It’s been nearly six months since I was shaken to my core by a conversation I had with one of my accounts. We aren’t close friends, we don’t spend time together outside our overlaps in space and time due to my responsibilities, but there is mutual respect that has been earned by both sides.
He is not from this country, but he has built a business that continues to grow. It’s growth isn’t out of luck, but out of a shrewdness that is easy to miss and difficult to beat. He’s nervous about his grasp of the English language, yet he speaks better than many American-borne people with whom I work on a daily basis.
Our conversation began with the usual topics – pricing, upcoming promotions, promotional retails he can offer his customers, merchandising and advertising new price and package promotions. Pretty old hat, nothing remarkable.
The conversation drifted to, not for the first time, him wanting to hire me. I told him that he couldn’t afford me, which made him want to hire me even more. It’s true though, there is no way he could afford to pay what I would need to do what he wants me to do.
From there, he told me that I was making a mistake, that I would regret it. Here are his words:
“You are making a mistake. You shouldn’t be doing what you’re doing. You can do more. You should start something, build something. You will regret not starting your own business.”
My head spun, because firstly, he was right. Second, I’ve started businesses before. Starting is easy for me – it’s fun, it comes naturally. I love it. Executing on the other hand is something at which I suck miserably.
But this conversation continues to haunt me. Every time I get home 10 minutes before my kids’ bedtime… every time I have to say good night on the phone… every time I have to take phone calls or respond to text messages at 8pm, 9pm, 10pm. Every time my job rudely interferes with my life, this conversation leaps into my consciousness… a ghost through a wall and into my mind.
For years I spoke about freedom vs. security. For years I pushed and motivated, inspired and challenged. It’s time to turn that inward.