I spent the last 2.5 years getting to know the guys and gals I worked with on my accounts. As of February 1, we had an org change. With this change, came a new team, a new boss, a new Regional Sale Director, and five new reps to support. This is exciting but also intimidating. The folks I have worked with for the last 45 months know me. They know I am controlling, willing to listen but not afraid to talk. They know I don’t rent cars and only use pencils for my notes. They know I tell fictional stories to my Uber drivers out of boredom. They know I’m always on time but that means an hour early for our meeting so I can create the room. They know I am obsessive with prep. They know I expect them to go first in the revolving door and I won’t stay in Courtyards. They know that my dinner order will for sure be a Russian River Chardonnay and a super modified steak off the menu (hold this, add that, no oil, clean, no starch, extra veggie…).
That being said, my new team doesn’t know me at all. I have no credibility with them, expectations or, more importantly, warning indicators of how much of a royal pain in the ass I really am. Sure, I warned my new boss. I told him he should talk to my old boss about how difficult I am. He said “you can’t be that bad.” After this statement, I told him that every time we passed, I would share something really weird about me so he could understand.
First Three Passings:
“Fred, I make my bed up in hotels every morning before I check out.“
“Fred, I love hard cheese but I refuse to eat and hate melted cheese.”
“Fred, I refuse to wear jeans on a plane because I am convinced that denim attracts more germs.”
After these three passings, he gets it. I am weird.
I still have a Regional Sales Director and five reps that don’t understand or know me. This is where the story gets fun.
I am working with a new rep (not just new to me but new to our company) on a long-time account. We meet in the lobby to plan our meeting around 7:00pm when I arrived in Daytona Beach, FL. I am staying in a Residence Inn. For those who know me, this is a normally off limit hotel due to the lack of bar and rooms that are uncomfortably big for 24 hours. However; this one had a bar and was on the beach. From time to time, I’ll compromise. This was a “time to time.” Beach and bar are some of my favorite things.
The new rep (who is lovely by the way) and I decide to go to dinner. Dinner includes a few apps and two Russian River Chards for me. This puts me right into my unnecessarily social money zone. We chit chat a bit and get off to a great start on getting to know each other. When we finish, I climb my 5 foot 2 self up into his giant truck and we head back to the Residence Inn. As we walk in, we decide to have one more wine. We turn to the bar and see that the bar is closed. Let me remind you this was criteria #1 in booking and it was only 9:15!
As we walk back to the elevator, I notice a great group of folks, sitting on coolers of beer in the lobby. As much as I wanted to judge, I was super impressed at the planning that went into this. I invited us to the party (you read that right) and we were immediately welcomed. Here we sat, two software sales friends interacting and getting to know 20 fleet drivers for a large food distribution company. At this point, we were just friends, enjoying Natty Lites and each other’s stories.
A few stories later and we decided to play Party Phrase, which is a mobile version of Catch Phrase. It is the perfect game for a group of 6-8 adults. We had 20, four of which were so toasted they couldn’t say their names, much less describe words and remember whose team they were on.
I am hyper competitive. Whether it is about the account I want to win, the tennis match I am playing or the game of Party Phrase in the lobby of a Residence Inn with a bunch of fleet drivers in Daytona Beach, I WANT TO WIN.
At this point, everyone was committed to play because the loud blonde chick who won’t let us not play said so. Let’s stop here for a second and think about what my new workmate was thinking. Long story long, we all agreed to play. The first round, no one could remember who was on their team. I am a problem-solver. I had my handy- dandy backpack on me. I reached right in and found two stacks of sticky notes. This allowed me to identify each team with a color. They loved it. We went on to enjoy a great night with our new friends in Daytona Beach sporting colored post-notes on our shirts. Jason, Santa Todd, Hippy Mark, Little Jeff and Boss Man Bill, who I of course called Billy.
It moments like this where you realize traveling for work is exhausting but it creates memories with kind-hearted strangers that can never be forgotten. Cheers to making friends in the lobby.
Remember Always Clean Your Tray Table!