Earlier this week I ended up sitting in the plush penthouse office of a very senior businessman I’d never met telling him he should shut up.
I’ll explain more…
For context, my day job is to help firms improve employees’ data analytics skills. To do this effectively, I need to get to “the decision-maker” to learn about what they do currently and whether we can help.
Now, obviously these decision-makers aren’t sat by the phone waiting for calls from random people, nor is emailing effective either.
So to get their attention requires a bit of a left-field approach.
This guy (we’ll call him Fred) heads up a division at a company we could really help (we’ll call them ABC). On Monday I had a think about how to reach him.
Fred tweets a fair amount, usually about mindfulness, mental health, and focus, and from looking on LinkedIn I was able to find the name of his PA (we’ll call her Wilma).
I called up the switchboard and asked to speak to Wilma (who is more likely to pick up the phone to a stranger). I said, I know this is a really strange thing to say, but I’ve got a book recommendation for Fred, could I pop up and give it to him?
“He’s not here right now, but maybe come by tomorrow at 11?”
The next day I traveled across London to the big shiny skyscraper, went to the security desk, said I was here to see Wilma and was directed to the top floor.
Wilma and I made small talk, and she asked what department I was in.
“Oh, I don’t actually work here, but one of Fred’s ex-colleagues said I should look to speak with him” (which is true).
In the pause that followed, I gestured to the book I was holding and asked if he’d be back soon.
“He shouldn’t be too long, tell you what, just go sit in his office and you can see him there”.
10 minutes later Fred comes back from a meeting, slightly taken aback by my presence.
I acknowledged how, look, I know this is really strange, and not what you were expecting on a Tuesday morning but that I have a gift for you and could I speak with you for a couple of minutes.
He smiled, and agreed – my guess is that I’m hardly the most threatening person to have sat in front of you in your office.
We ended up chatting about what my company does, how we’re looking to grow the business and how it would be great to work with ABC.
He said, fair play for getting here, this sounds interesting and very happy to help – have a chat with Wilma and we’ll get a proper meeting fixed up.
I also gave him a gift.
“I was reading the articles you’ve written on the benefits of mindfulness, and, if you’ve not read it already, thought you could do with this…”
“Perfect”, he said, “this is exactly the sort of thing I could do with right now”.
It was a book by a Vietnamese monk on the benefits of silence.
In other news…
A podcast about sand.
Genuinely one of the most interesting podcast episodes I’ve listened to in a while.
A Jamaican heist, how Singapore has been buying dumps of sand from Indonesia and is now 20% bigger, and how the Australians (literally) sold sand to the Arabs.
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