We stood on the corner of 53rd and Columbus, after a super swell summer night of inner-city rambling. “Ok, well… Night!” Ross tossed me his Leading Man grin and turned to head back to his Hell’s Kitchen apartment.
“Night then.” I said through a tight “everything-is-just-fine” grin. I turned north toward my studio shoebox on the Upper West Side.
Ross and I had been dating about a year. He was the lead actor in a big musical that was touring the country. When he was in town we would have a great time walking for hours though Central Park or some new un-explored neighborhood – each excursion ending with our continued search for the city’s best margarita. It was light and fun.
I wanted more. Not more time, but more connection. After several attempts at expressing my needs and receiving the emotional equivalent of a pat on the head – I still felt less a romantic partner and more a neighbor’s Labrador pup.
On this night, at this street corner I was hit with a miraculous moment of clarity and realization. “Hey!” I called to his retreating back. He turned. I let all pretense drop, and said evenly, “You are not really. totally. crazy for me. are you?”
I could have remained silent and spent many more months playing out scenarios in my mind that usually involved me fictitiously playing his leading lady in the RomCom called “Life.” Instead, I had thrown my question over the edge and stood waiting for the sound of the lonely “plink” as the pebble of truth hit cool hard reality below.
In an act that I (now) view as transcendent benevolence, he let out a big sigh, flashed that smile and said simply, “No. I guess. Not really.”
“Oh… Ok… So… I guess we’re done then?” I wouldn’t have believed this was coming out of my mouth if you had played me the FaceBook Live of it happening. Two people, three sidewalk squares apart, mercifully and mutually and excruciatingly euthanizing “Us”, amid the rushing rapids of people, and taxis, and taxis, and taxis.
Recently, as I was interviewing service providers for the many facets of expertise I need to run my professional speaking business, It struck me… That moment of time spent a decade and a half ago was a powerful step in my evaluation process.
Some businesses treat me like they are happy to spend a few moments with me, if it means a sale, but it seems clear they will be off singing and dancing elsewhere as soon as I sign on.
Others truly take the time to discover what I am all about, and how we can best work together. They connect with me. These are also usually the folks who offer a few ideas or insights “just because” without ever charging me. They seem to understand that loyalty and commitment to me means loyalty and commitment for them.
That connection is what I want to spend my pennies on.
Which kinds of business partners do you have?
Which kind of business partner are you?
Connection creates culture. And your culture is what draws new customers, attracts top talent and retains valuable team members. Connection creates culture either way – lack of connection leads to a negative culture. But if you strive to connect openly and often, you will create a positive culture, with customers and employees who are crazy for you!