Can We Talk…? Part II

Chit Chat

It was just another incoming call… one of tens of thousands I’ve received over the years.  Not knowing the caller, I simply picked up and as usual said, “Hi, this is Steve…”. 

Ninety seconds later, I invited the gentleman to stop by my office for ten minutes later in the week. 

It was a scene that has been repeated a few thousand times over the last twenty-some years; often with powerful results. 

As I mentioned in an earlier post, I owe this habit to meeting the man who led the Green Bay Packers organization for most of the last two decades.  In fact, that day I redefined the duties of every executive assistant that ever worked with me again.

Gone was the cover. The “sorry… he’s in a meeting”, the “may I ask who calling?”, or the “what is this in reference to?”.  Gone also were the little white lies… the fabrications, and the string-alongs. 

Never again did I have my calls screened.  To this day… if I’m available I take the call, regardless of who it is.  If I’m not available, I receive a message and return the call… every one of them, within 48 hours.

It may be quick… I may or may not meet with them, and I may or may not refer them…
but I do return their calls.

When I relate this… I inevitably get a response such as “Aw, come on… I don’t have time to waste with everyone that calls… most of them just have something they want to sell.” 

It is important to note that this usually comes from someone with a “manager mentality”, not a leader.  Remember, I got this advice from Bob Harlan, the legendary CEO and President of the most storied franchise in NFL history. I called him myself; he answers his own phone.

As a small business owner, I figured that if he could do it, I could do it. And yes…, I am biased toward the green and gold.


But here is the thing, while managers are looking at their watch and worrying about wasting time getting caught up in someone’s sales and marketing processes, leaders are not threatened this way.  We get done what needs to get done, regardless of the time.

And while managers go into a meeting with a potential vendor prepared to wield their power and say ‘no’, leaders understand that others have great ideas, and there is no need to close the door on everyone… we can say ‘no’ at any point we want to. When you are comfortable with your power, there’s no need to throw it around.

Ownership means we can evaluate and make decisions.  There’s not a salesperson in the world who can waltz into my office and sell me something that I am not interested in… I don’t care how good they are. 

At the same time, my authority to decline any offer I choose also means I am free to listen to others before deciding anything.  Unless someone is offensive or dishonest on the way in, I will give just about anyone ten minutes… and after that, we’ll both know if it makes sense to continue.


Do I hear anyone thinking ‘total waste of time’? I’ll give you my answer and a few other thoughts tomorrow. I look forward to hearing from you.



Managers want to do things right; leaders do the right things.

With the ability to say ‘no’ at any time, I have the freedom to listen.


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