Luck Is Back On My Side, For Now

K is back in town and nothing has changed since he was last here. His vision for the company is still flawed, albeit he seems to be getting more in touch with reality nowadays – the reality that his plan is not working.

Business is an art and that’s what makes it so compelling and so dynamic. I am wrong more often than I am right and what I think may not work may actually be precisely what is needed. Having said that, the reason I am constantly shitting on my partner, K, is that his fundamental common sense in business is flawed at its core. One’s goal in business should be always focused on adding value, not the other way around.

Never ever wish for or expect loyalty from others. It is an overt demonstration of weakness. As long as you add value to your organization, it will be recognized somewhere and your allies will grow, and quickly. Of course, do this while watching out for yourself and never take the words of others at face value. The second that you stop adding value, you can be sure somebody is trying to figure out a way to get rid of you. You should expect that and embrace it, not criticize others for being disloyal. On the same token, when your organization stops adding value to you, it’s your turn to leave and move on to something greater.

You may sit there and wonder why I continue to chastise K in such vitriolic manner, when instead I should be helping him to figure out what’s wrong. I must have you know that I have tried, and so have all the other partners, but this guy’s head is thick as stone.

Today was different.

Going on with my new theme of proactively saying shit without giving a fuck, I decided to take a new approach. At around 9:30 this morning, I sauntered into the office and snatched a list of ‘potential clients’ off K’s desk and sat myself down. The entire team has been staring at that list for months, with nobody doing anything. Everyone is waiting for some ‘consulting company’ to introduce them to one of those companies, because that way it will ‘go smoother’. As an entrepreneur, that is an absolute insult because rule number 1 is you have to hustle. Looking quickly through the addresses, I noticed 2 of those offices were nearby.

“K, lets go,” I gestured.

“Go where?”

“I want to show you something.”

We hopped into a taxi and went straight to one of those offices. The first office was tucked away on the 5th floor of some run down building next to a beer garden. We entered the elevator and went up.

“Wait,” K started. “We don’t have an appointment scheduled.”

“Yeah, so what? We’re here so they’ll have to receive us.”

One of the first things I learned from one of my early mentors is always make the introduction in person. Granted, it is better to call in advance to let the other party know you’ll be coming, but never give away any details by phone since the more you talk, the more opportunities they have to hang up. Tell them you’re going, and that’s it. When you speak face to face you have the advantage of adding emotion, charm, and personality to your pitch. In fact, it is better if you leave them speculating, with no clue what the meeting is about. When you finally reveal your agenda, they will either love it or hate it, leaving little to no chances for “let me think about it and get back to you later”.

We entered the office and were received by 3 receptionists. After some small chitchat, we learned that the purchasing manager was in a meeting and couldn’t see us until afternoon.

Fine. We’ll be back at 1.

We left and headed to the next closest office off that customer list. This office was in a nicer building, and took up floors 14-17. The purchasing manager was some grumpy old eastern European guy. I briefly told him I had something to show him, and he gave us some time in his meeting room. After a few minutes, this fucker clearly had no interest in us, which was fine, so we left.

By this time, K was getting all hyped up and excited. He had obviously never made any cold calls or pitched business to strangers before and I can tell he found this world intriguing, as that never happens in a traditional Japanese business culture. As we spoke, I picked out a small Japanese company from the potential client list. I called them, spoke to the Japanese gent on the other end for a minute or so, then passed the phone over the K.

“It’s your turn”.

K went fucking nuts. His speech quickly became stuttered and he broke every single rule of sales, disclosing almost everything about our company to this stranger on the other end of the line. After about 5 minutes of the most horrendous sales pitch I have ever heard in my life, he hung up, sweating profusely, but vivified.

“I think they’re really interested in us! They said they want to meet tomorrow afternoon!”

Yeah ok, calm down. “We’ll meet them tomorrow then.”

K started to open up, seemingly impressed with this foreign approach to sales. I took this opportunity to lay it out to him, castigating his amateurish style of management, telling him his plans will not work indefinitely. He seemed to be more in agreement this time, admitting that he was told the same thing from a number of his trusted ‘consultants’. I said what I had to and we headed back to the first office.

Long story short, this company was a company called T-seafoods, which we later learned happens to supply the majority of seafood to all of the major retailers and supermarkets that K and team have been dying to get into the entire time. Before the end of the meeting, I had sold a 70kg bluefin tuna (which we don’t even have yet, but can get) with promises to put us into their list of retailers and seafood restaurant chains, starting with orders of small quantity. They need it by next week, which means we have a solid order in hand, which could lead to a lot more if we deliver well. What happens from here on out I cannot guarantee, as now our partners need to execute on their price, quality, and delivery.

After the meeting, I headed off to do other work and reunited with K back at the MT office a couple hours later. There was a new aura of excitement in the air, and everyone was scurrying about, being busy, which is good. A few more members from the Japan side are coming tomorrow and I expect a lot of commotion in the office. I think I know what these guys need, and that is somebody to push and challenge them to achieve greater. I may be just the right person to play that role, and in that same gesture, provide an exemplary opportunity for myself to mature as a manager.