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Set the damn appointment

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.”

— Henry David Thoreau (Walden: Or, Life in the Woods)

A few years ago I had the pleasure of meeting a wizard. This man became one of my true confidents, friends, and taught me many lessons in life. For over 5 years I met with this man monthly and he helped guide me, hold me accountable, and introduce me to some of the smartest people I’ve ever met.

I heard about this “wizard” from a friend that was a little upset. It seemed that her client was in a group and the group had recommended to their members that they all get prices on the product that she offered. She called me and asked if I was aware of this type of group and I advised I was not, but it did sound intriguing.

I later got online to research this “group” which later unveiled it to be named CEO Partners; its leader was the wizard, Mr. David Clegg. I reached out to David and advised I’d like to learn more about this group and find out if I was maybe a good candidate for this type of professional “help”.

He agreed to meet me at a local restaurant for a cup of coffee and after a few minutes we were both intrigued by each other’s past and current positions. I invited David to my office where we would determine if I was a good fit for his mentoring group.

The morning David entered my office; he had to wait in that my current appointment was running a little late. As I greeted him he smiled and asked, “How did you get quoted in the Wall Street Journal”? I told him the story and I think I gained a little credibility. The next hour we discussed my company, my hopes and dreams and how I might join his group.

We mutually decided I would come for a visit and see if I might be able to learn, but also add to the discussion. About 3 weeks later I was sitting in an office with ten very smart people, people much smarter than I and it was game on. For the next 4 hours business strategy, financial implications of the recent downturn in the economy, and human resource issues various members were facing were discussed. I was hooked and committed to join that day.

For the next 5 years, I met with this group monthly for 4 hours. In addition, I would meet with David for 2 hours for a personal accountability session. He would have the notes from our last meeting, review them, ask me updates, and then ask probing questions that made me think about the current thought process and goings on of our company.

The greatest gift David Clegg gave to me was that you never leave a meeting without setting up another meeting. At the end of your meeting, you always agree to a date and time of the next meeting, even if it’s 6 months away. This forces you constant contact with your clients has personally caused me to become much more proactive and a better manager of my relationships.

As with all things in life, this group came to an end. The owners went their separate ways and although we still keep in touch, it’s not the same. I’m at a different season of my life and I’m not so sure that this group would be as effective today as they were during our time of meetings, but joining my personal wizards group made me who I am today and for that, I will always be grateful.

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