Why be fearless?

This reminds me of my first partner in our software/consulting service business. He was absolutely fearless.

We would always arrive at appointments very early so he had an excuse to “poke around”. He’d ask anybody, the receptionist, someone in the breakroom, even the janitor. He’d see what was going on in the parking lot, the loading dock, even in the warehouse or factory. Seeing him in a business for the first time was like watching a kid in a candy store.

In our first meeting, he always knew something about the client’s business that they didn’t. He’d say things like, “Automating the inventory won’t help if Fred and Jean are counting 2 different things.” This always led to interesting discussion and often, follow-up business.

Once he even spent a week of his own time on third shift, going over procedures and reports with factory supervisors. They didn’t know who he was; they just figured someone from the main office sent him. He did a complete analysis in Excel which we used in a proposal. That got us hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of work.

I often challenged him, “You can’t just do that,” I would say. To which he would respond, “These people need help and don’t even realize it. We have to find a way to show them.” Then the inevitable, “It’s better to beg for forgiveness than ask for permission.”

Looking back, it didn’t always work. It pissed off some people and burnt those bridges. But when it did work, we often concluded that nothing else would have.

I learned a lot in those days. I’m still not as fearless as my partner was, but I’d like to think I’m getting there. Thanks for the memories.