New Beginnings: Instincts, Sharp Eyes, Loud Voice

I am finished chasing down a particular business for an appointment. After so many communiques via email, telephone calls, and promises, the potential client cannot meet until some unspecified future day. “Strong pitch. Touched on our needs. Indeed,” the company president said. Without bitterness, frustration set in. I’m not sure if I’m doing something wrong relative to particular business.

Having placed myself in charge of acquiring new business for my revamped ad agency I wonder if someone else should be assigned to the task. After all, acquiring money for operational costs and paying people are so essential, my efforts should be concentrated on those things. That makes a lot of sense.

A quick word about my categorizing the state of my company as being “revamped.” That is not fully descriptive. What I did was tear down my business model. It hasn’t been an easy transition going from being traditional to disruptive and digital. There was evaluation of staff and the value of our accounts, and thus attrition. When this happens you find yourself standing alone trying to crystallize your vision.

Like minded people are hard to find. But, it is always a pressing need.

Two years ago, I began questioning my ability to judge talent. We interviewed several creatives to come in just above entry level. I sat down with the “perfect candidate.” She was smart, friendly, attractive and knowledgeable. She liked the way we laid out the office — roomy — clean — colorful. The neighborhood was crappy, but the office rocked. I extended an offer — she accepted. But, when she realized that we were committed to remaining multi-cultural, she withdrew. “I don’t really like that vibe. No offense,” was delivered in a soft but crushing voice.

My then PR Director came in as the candidate left and said she knew what was going to happen because her instincts told things about the woman I didn’t notice. The next candidate arrived minutes later. The interview went well and was a notch above “Miss Perfect.” Being the gentleman that I am, and because it got dark early, I walked her to her car. There was a quick mundane conversation, and I said, “I’ll let you know within a week.” This seemed okay with her. She served a long, absorbing smile and drove off.

As she was packing up for the day, the PR Director stared at me. She seemed disturbed. When asked, she replied: “That girl doesn’t want a job. She wants a social relationship.” When asked how she knew, she said: “Well, she folded and slipped a note under your laptop. I was passing by your office when you stepped out to take a call privately. She put a spot of her cologne on the note. She likes you, not the agency.”

My colleague went on to say that she had sharp eyes for this type of thing — “the charming siren.” I realize some professional women that will read this blog might take offense, but people casting shadows across your desk may have motives not even remotely associated with what you want. Their intent is diametrically dichotomous. Resumes often are an exercise in creative writing. Good fiction.

That’s not to say don’t trust people. We need a host of people to function in the ad business. I have to take somethings as they are. Other times references must be vetted. So, as I make decisions for my company, if instincts and sharp eyes tell me a truth hidden by a prospect, I am prepared to say “No” in a loud voice — even it if stays in my head.

Catch you later,

Bernard Alexander McNealy


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