February 23rd, 2009 12:58 EST
Do You Want a Little Friendly Advice?
Two years ago, I was asked by a company to help them find some capital. Before I could fully agree to the engagement, however, I had to make an evaluation of the company and its prospects because my batting average is critically important to me, and the only way that I can keep my batting average high is by selecting only deals that I know that I can do.
This particular company was very interesting. They were in the business of prepaid credit cards or gift cards that could be used at malls and other shopping environments. The company received cash in advance and held it in trust until the customers spent it at the malls of their choice.
But this deal had "hair" on it. It was not a clean or easy deal, and it was not going to be a slam dunk. That`s because it was difficult for a lender to get their arms around the collateral. It was difficult to explain it, and it was difficult to understand it. And what was more difficult was the CEO of the company.
When we met in person, I asked a variety of questions, and after about 20 minutes of asking questions, I asked if I could offer some assistance and make some suggestions. And the answer that I got from the CEO was nothing less than shocking. It was so shocking, in fact, that I immediately refused to accept the engagement.
The CEO looked at me after I asked if I could offer some assistance and said he doesn`t want assistance, he just wants some money. I was surprised but not caught off guard by this, because I`ve seen this personality a hundred different times before. So I quietly put my papers in my briefcase, thanked him for the opportunity to work together, and walked out.
There were two things working in this situation. Number one, I don`t tolerate disrespect (http://tinyurl.com/bmvdjs). I don`t think anyone should tolerate it. Disrespect is bad for me, and it`s stupid and rude of the person who`s being disrespectful. Second, I couldn`t introduce a person like this to any one of my contacts of any substance because the great likelihood is that that person would treat my contacts the same way as they had treated me, and I wouldn`t put any of my friends or colleagues, whether personal or professional, in a situation where they might be disrespected.
I`ve said many times to hold your head high and don`t be disrespected because in the long run, you`ll get a lot further along, and I continue to maintain the same stance. Even in this difficult economy, you should hold your head high. You don`t have to take anything that doesn`t work for you. Hold out for something better, especially if it means you can avoid being treated in a disrespectful manner.
The moral of the story is that the CEO of this company -- who was very gentlemanly and felt very embarrassed as he watched me put my papers in my briefcase and walk out of the room -- told me recently that the company had gone bankrupt. Everything was wiped out. So, the CEO who acted like he was worth $100M got nothing from his company.
In large part, it was because no one could help him. He wouldn`t allow anyone to provide him with any assistance. It was a great concept, and it was even potentially a great company, but at the end of the day, Entrepreneurial Ventures failed -- not because of the markets, not because of its products, but because of its people.
I am not laughing at him -- I would never do that. But the reality is that people take businesses down. So if you want a little friendly advice from me, be mindful of this lesson all the time. Be a respectful person. Keep your head up high, and make sure that your business is always doing the right thing.
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About Joel G. Block, President of Growth-Logic, Inc. Often dubbed a "Growth Architect" by his clients, Joel Block advises companies on explosive growth strategies by driving revenue and sales. Well known in the capital markets, Joel is a successful entrepreneur, speaker, advisor and faculty member of the iLearningGlobal community.
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