I’m “lucky.” Lenders, vendors, investors, entrepreneurs… in “the business of lending money to the masses” call me daily. They share their wins, their losses, their challenges, their frustrations and most importantly, their ideas with me.
Why me? I suppose because I’m transparent. I’m straight. I fully admit my agenda and my biases. My reputation is all I really have. Ultimately, that’s all any of us own.
As a result, I have the good fortune to be able to access some of the best minds in our industry.
Make no mistake! I recognize that I’m often “the dumbest guy in the room.” Frankly, I prefer this role. “Always be learning” is my mantra.
Over the years, I’ve “worked” on a multitude of projects with professionals who charge by the hour for their services. I’ve never understood this. The premise that the fee generated by a collaboration between a client and their “hired gun” should be based on time, materials, numbers of participants… some commodity, is nonsensical.
The real measure of my collaboration with my client is to what extent have I improved my client’s condition. As my mentor, Alan Weiss wrote, “Billing by the hour or day is intrinsically unethical. Lawyers bill by 6 minute increments. We all know how well that works. Time-based billing rewards sloth & lethargy.”
My value is in my advice, my counsel and my network; not in my presence. My clients should not have to make an investment decision [hours billed] every time they need my help.
Example: My client needs a bank! No bank = catastrophe! I jump on a 10 minute call with a banker I know who is willing to provide an operating account for my lender client. If I bill for 10 minutes of my time, what dollar amount does that equate to? $166@$1000/hr? What value did I deliver? I enabled my lender client to remain in business! Think about all the capital, infrastructure, customers served, employees, vendors, tax authorities, commercial property owners, consumer activists 🙂 politicians, lawyers, lobbyists, industry associations… who are dependent on the survival of my client!
I’ve invested 20+ years building relationships with folks smarter than me. Relationships that allow me to solve a bank issue with a short phone call. Relationships enabling me to introduce two unaffiliated lenders – unaware of one another AND YET operating in the same city – to collaborate with one another, solve their individual challenges and achieve an extraordinary ROI that they never dreamed possible.
[Note: I stole the following from another mentor, Seth Godin.]
Consider two loading docks at small companies.
At the first, a tractor-trailer filled with heavy boxes shows up. The sole worker on the dock is tasked with unloading the trailer, asap.
He puts on his gloves and begins hauling the boxes, one at a time. He’s manhandling them off the truck and straining to stack them to the side. Eight hours later, he has a strained back, blisters and an empty truck. A day’s work, hard earned.
At the second dock, the sole worker looks at the truck and then heads next door, to the larger company and their foreman, a woman he met on the bus to work last week. “Can I borrow your hand truck and ramp for an hour?” It took guts to ask, he might have been rejected, but his calm manner and ability to connect worked.
An hour later, the truck is empty.
Who worked harder today?
For most of us, hard work is measured in insight, emotional effort, and connection. It’s been a long time since the economy fairly rewarded people based on brawn alone.
And now, consider the third company, where the person at the dock planned ahead and had everything ready as soon as the truck was scheduled to arrive…
Or consider the keyboard workers, one of whom does a repetitive task all day long, and the other who did the labor to find a plug-in or macro that would do it in a few minutes…