Getting the right mindset for business: tales of a quiet American

Hurrah! Another apprentice makes it through the cat-fighting, back-stabbing and baloney of the boardroom to become Lord Sugar’s business partner. It may make exciting TV but don’t be fooled. Being good in business can, and I think should, happen a lot more quietly!

I recently worked on the build of a new website for a new client – a very experienced business consultant. The project, to research the goals of the website and to produce fully optimised content, came via a friend of mine.

What are you known for?

Rich has known this UK-based American for years and I was intrigued to hear all about him. I heard about how great he is at getting the best out of people; his success at creating opportunities and that you won’t meet anyone more charming and sincere. I was told I’d be jealous of his optimistic determination and that forever calm, nothing seemed to phase him. If that wasn’t enough to take him seriously then there was his impressive ‘blue chip’, ‘black book’ of clients.

I was puzzled. Could this really be the face of success in big business today? Where was the ego and the put-downs: the shouting and finger pointing. Surely there was something Rich was overlooking.

Is it me…

Before my first meeting with the client I went over my research results repeatedly to look for a flaw he was bound to find. Brushing up on presentation skills, I went on to trawl the internet for the very latest on success with SEO. Having seen so many mauled in the TV boardroom, I was going to be the one that was ready for anything.

And so, firmly shaking his hand punctually at 6pm last Monday we were off. No more time to dwell on his reputation and wonder what he’d be like to work with. We were doing it.

Deal with the reality

It turns out I was right to be cautious… sort of. His keen eye for detail did find fault with what I had done but it was only once and totally justified – I had misspelt his surname. Rich was also absolutely right. This quiet American lived up to it all. Knowledgeable, charming, informed and approachable he reignited my faith in today’s corporate world. Quite rightly, he questioned my approach but never was I in any doubt that he valued my response. And his voice – it never raised above a very pleasant purr.

Business, as in everything in life, is a choice. We cannot always choose who we do it with but we can certainly choose how we do it.

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