Playing the long game…
When it occurred to me I better start working on this Q3 e-newsletter I then realized the third quarter is already three weeks old. This will be the 25th issue of the newsletter, but the first time I missed a deadline. Where did the time go? I also came across a box of old baseball cards recently, which allowed me to reminisce about my childhood while flipping through the players from the 80’s like Tony Gwynn, Don Mattingly, and Andy Van Slyke. Now these same guys are managers and fathers of current big leaguers. Sadly, some are no longer with us. Ken Griffey Jr. (aka “The Kid”) and probably the most famous son of a former player, is getting inducted into the Hall of Fame this weekend. My own son is growing up so fast and I wish I could slow things down. Even though this all makes me feel a little old, I’m also constantly reminded how our world becomes a much smaller place the longer we are around.
People I sold to 15 years ago are now pitching me things. Co-workers I started my career with are now Presidents, Chiefs and SVP’s. All this is to say it’s a small world and we should all be playing the long game. It’s tough to appreciate this when you are getting started. It’s hard to imagine the clown sitting in the cubicle across from you might end up the President of a team some day. The account coordinator at the agency you work with may become the Director of Marketing at a future sponsor you end up pitching.
Relationships and how you treat people along the way is your most valuable currency. The pressure is often on to close deals and drive business. However, building relationships takes time. The true art is finding a balance with the current task at hand while always nurturing long-term relationships. Deals will come and go along with jobs, titles, etc.. Hopefully the relationships you establish will last a lifetime.
As with any good relationship, it is built on trust, transparency, empathy, memories, mutual interests and simple likeability. This doesn’t mean you need to be best friends with everyone. True friendships are special and I’m lucky to have become friends with many co-workers, clients and peers over the years. However, having good work relationships is not the same as being friends with everyone. It also doesn’t mean there needs to be an end goal in mind.
People prefer to do business with people they like, but playing the long game is bigger than just getting a deal done at some point down the road. It’s about creating a network of relationships you support and will hopefully be there for you both personally and professionally. It’s about helping someone find a new job or referring a candidate to someone who is hiring. It’s about connecting people who may be able to help each other in some way. It is treating people well along the way and feeling the same in return.
Time goes quickly and none of us know how much we have. Making the most of every moment is easy to say, but difficult to do. Keeping an eye on the big picture is tough when you are focused on what is right in front of you. The first 20+ years of my career involved several twists and turns. I’m sure the next 20 will as well. The people and relationships along the way will be what I cherish the most. Thanks for spending a little time reading this and enjoy the rest of the Summer. It will go quickly…..