How do you deal with the challenge of something going south just before it was supposed to be going north? And you’ve completed a massive cycle of action.
I got a call today from a client in Sydney, Australia, saying “Jeff, I need to talk to you.” And that’s not something that he easily says, so I know this must be significant. I called him up and he gave me the run down, “The transaction we are in as you well know, we are concluding the sale of our business. And we have an exclusive offer that we have accepted and we have provided that courtesy to the purchaser and at the last minute they have started to change the terms of the agreement significantly and I just needed to share that with you because I am actually annoyed and also afraid and would like to get your perspective on this.”
I said to him okay, this horse is always a possibility here and we knew that in advance. Here we are. Not ideal. It is real. There are three things we really need to look at here.
First is that he got a chance to purge with me here. Which had nothing to do with the solution but it was really about his relationship to it. Which he needed to be given the opportunity to do that just to kind of air out so he can let his perspective to be known to someone who wasn’t going to judge him but was going to appropriately listen and have a conversation with him about what are we going to do about this. And he was very lucid about it. The impact was significant. There were some options that needed to be addressed because it was complex and there was some merit to the revisions. I said first and foremost, the one thing is, let’s both agree and acknowledge exactly how you feel about this. Because these are things, what they are saying and doing, from the people associated with the deal should’ve let you know early on in the process before you gave them exclusivity. And in business as it is in life things do get revised. I wanted him to know from the beginning that he was being heard. Because if we are heard while we purge then we can find a way to the solution. If we find a solution before we are heard then we feel a bit discounted we wonder whether or not all the facts have been transmitted. Do we have the soberness of mind to hold a rational conversation about it? Things get really convoluted if we don’t spend the time to make sure all the challenges and the frustrations get discharged so we can reset our minds and have the sobriety in the conversation in what the solutions are. Once we got through that is was very clear what all the issues were from him and he was in a place of mind to discuss the next two options.
I said the next thing about this is we need to investigate the buyers that were turned away when you provided exclusivity to this particular group and see what that status is. Why that was important is because the buyers might still be interested, which is great, and it gave his mind, body and soul, something to anchor to that proved and demonstrated a presence of mind and a professionalism to really look at this objectively in terms of problem solving while the emotional side is spiraling out of control. It is possible for both things to happen simultaneously. They should be done simultaneously and learned to be done so. We don’t need to have the charge on them dissipate before we take the right action. Sometimes that is too late and windows close. We should be able to do things simultaneously. Once he saw the wisdom in that then we compartmentalized that and we didn’t say that today he needed to figure all that out but we did say that, that is something that needs to get done as soon as possible after he and the partners get together and discuss it.
The third thing I said to him is we need to give this a 24 hour rule. Meaning that no decision will be made on this for a minimal of 24 hours while the feather settles and the sobriety of mind collates all the possible so we do not have our judgement clouded by the emotional charge that is put on this. And after going through these three steps his demeanor, presence of mind, state of mind was remarkable. Not unexpectedly so. Because we did these three things.
Let’s review. Number one we have got to be able to fully discuss and discharge and express what we are feeling about what it is as a way of informing people about the facts of what the situation is and as a way to air out to take a little bit of the charge of it so we are not held hostage or blindsided by our emotional reaction to. But we are still acknowledging it. Which is a very, very important part of this. The second thing is to look at alternatives to be able to sift out and derive options that are worth pursuing to identify further what potential are for the next steps that maximize the outcome depending upon what the most favorable course of action is. Another absolutely critical step. The final thing that we did is we said no final decision for the next 24 hours minimum. No action is going to be taken until you really see what the right actions to be taken are. We are not going to take an action just to feel better. To make it look like we are doing something, taking it seriously. No, we are not going to make a decision until we are really clear on what that is and what that means.
I hope you found that of immense value because in these heat of the moments, in which there might be 4 to 5 a year, those are the very things that determine the success or failure. It’s really important we have a default structure in place to be able to appropriately address the circumstances. That is something that needs to be rehearsed, so that we know exactly what it is and when it needs to be implemented. And we are certain in that. Which further reduces are anxiety and increases our confidence that we are going to be able to appropriately address a circumstances in front of us that can be highly volatile.