My time with Chuck

Have you ever had the opportunity to meet with a truly brilliant person? I just did.

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Find someone wiser than you and hold on

I have always been a firm believer in the power of having a mentor. Nevermore so than after meeting with the truly brilliant person. I had the opportunity to spend some time with a man named Chuck. I’m not going to share his last name as I’m not sure he wants to the press, but he’s owned large multinational corporations and been involved with name brands you would most certainly know. Let’s just say, he’s the guy that responds to your comment about a company that you admire, he refers to the founder like, ” Oh yeah, I know Jim he’s a good guy, college roommate”… he’s that guy.

So this post, is more about the recalling of my experience with him than it is about providing valuable info because to be honest, I was drinking from a fire hose for 90 minutes and was quickly beyond my brain capacity. Needless to say, my time with him was incredible and I had no business sitting at lunch with him.

So the question bares asking… how did you find a connection like that? Literally through a friend of a boss of a friend. Its about who you know right? The funny thing is, none of these connections ever happened until I started pursuing them. Or at the very least, letting the ideas out of my head and allowing other people to be involved in them. Which I have found extremely valuable.

People who are aligned with you on a fundamental level will do their best to help if they know they can. Let them know.

What made the time so incredible? Men like Chuck are in short supply. Men who are 50 years your senior, who have been very successful financially and are willing to offer it. They think on a whole different level. Chuck has the incredible ability to boil down ideas to the most simple form and offer them as nuggets of truth like candies falling from a piñata, there’s just not enough time to pick them up without seeing another one. Albeit, I was in his wheelhouse discussing marketing, running a business, getting ahead of trends. He has had lots of experience with media, advertising, sales and brokering deals which is perfect or me. The ability to simply communicate complex ideas is an art form and separates good practitioners and masters (of whom Chuck is).

Here are the key takeaways for me. Again, think 90 minutes of candy falling from a piñata. I can’t remember it all but I found some full sized snickers bars in there.

  • I’m leading with my best here, make sure you don’t fall into the trap of letting somebody pay you for your time. You need to have an equity position and every deal you make because once you sell the value that you create you don’t have any more to gain without creating more value again and again and again. Working project to project is ok at first, but at some point someone better will come along.
  • Marketing is creating demand for a product, nothing more nothing less. Marketing going well should make people want something they didn’t know they wanted.
  • Selling is the act of making people do what you want them to do. However, the demand has to be there.
  • Which leads into… sales are tactical, marketing is strategic.
  • Good marketing is putting products in front of avalanches. You have to be part fortune teller. Maybe not but the key is to be able to synthesize information from many different sources and make a forecast. I don’t think there’s any magic to this, its just knowing which sources to pay attention to then ride the wave.
  • Talent is God given, not earned or worked for but truly a gift. The illustration he gave was of the world’s best violinist. All [most] of us have a left shoulder and two hands but not everyone can make a piece of wood [violin] sing like that. Business men, put the violin to the shoulder, the creatives make it sing. They are symbiotic.
  • You’re getting old, its time to think about making a move.
  • Don’t let anyone get between you and the guy with the money.

So to boil it all down… consider taking care of your family first then once you have a steady cash flow setup, work for ownership and consider working for a lower fee. The initial emotional response to the whole deal is to continue on the path we are going and was when I am his age offer the years of experience gained for the benefit of others. I guess people aren’t much different from wine, they either spoil early or truly become legendary.

I have no idea what the future holds or what will come out of our meeting but if its nothing more than this blog post as a memory it was worth the embarrassment of showing up under dressed. Thanks for lunch Chuck. I hope we can meet again soon.

Read - Work your talent [/eightcolumns]