A long, long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, as the story goes, I was going to have a career in publishing. In preparation for this, I spent the summer at the Radcliffe Publishing Procedures Course, and at this, I’m not kidding, I took a course in cocktail parties.
It was called “Sherry Hour” and the entire group of students, about sixty people, many of whom are now running magazines in New York, were required to spend an hour or so at the end of the day drinking and chatting with whichever publishing professional had taken the train up from New York to teach us that day.
I’m always fascinated by the details of when and where ideas choose to arrive. You think about something, sometimes for days, and suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, you get an idea. In point of fact, your brain has been working on it for days, but when the lightbulb finally goes on, it seems like the Idea Fairy has just shown up and waved her wand.
In my last posting, I wrote about the challenge of working with attorneys – more specifically, of getting what I know into their heads, otherwise known as “teaching”. This is often far from easy, and since I wrote that entry, I’ve been thinking about why. Tonight, as I was driving back to the office after dinner, I think I figured it out. Attorneys obviously aren’t stupid, but sales and business development are often very difficult concepts for them to employ. Why is that?
On Friday, I had my first meeting with a new client, a law firm. It was really kind of perfunctory – a brief conversation, some chitchat, a list of the attorneys I’d be working with, a brief discussion of next steps, and that’s it. Off we go.
On the other hand, like these kickoff meetings always do, it also felt momentous – like standing at the base of El Capitan, with the rope around my shoulder, looking up at the summit.
I'm currently reading/listening to a fascinating book, "The Power of Now", by Eckhardt Tolle. Tolle is, obviously, German, and is some kind of spiritual teacher. He reads his book in a slightly creepy German accent -- flat, unnaturally calm, with sort of a lisp. On his website, his picture reminds me of something Mark Helperin wrote once: "A man who looks like a rodent should never wear tweed." And yet, in all seriousness, he is a gifted teacher, and he has something, believe it or not, to say to professionals who are selling.
The thing that really cripples, say, an attorney who begins to work on business development is the simple, harsh fact of rejection. In one form or another, most of the people contacted are going to make it really clear that either a) they don't want to talk to the attorney; or b) they don't want to buy what the attorney is selling, which is himself. Rejection, with a capital "R".