On the morning of February 3, 2015, ten aspiring entrepreneurs, all men, ranging in age from their mid-thirties to their mid-fifties (“I’ve been in this business for forty years. There is nothing you can say that will hurt me,” said the oldest man), gathered at a Brooklyn Starbucks to discuss their great plans. They took up the entirety of a long table constructed of affordable wood and talked extremely loud.
The men confused this common space for a boiler room. They seized one stool, a precious seat in a crowded place, because some arcane section in the business plan required that one of their sparsely packed backpacks could not rest on the floor. After all, these men were not riff raff. They were meant to be tycoons.
These men believed themselves to be paragons of originality, altogether different from other captains of industry. Yet not a single man at the table sported a suit, much less a tie or a shirt selected with an iota of care. Indeed, the men had not bothered to dress well at all. They regularly looked down at their laptops and often made references to “being on the same page.” They swapped such invaluable tips on how to send an Excel document to other colleagues by email and the best way to swallow a cough drop.
They were the team. They meant business, even though it often took ten minutes to set up a five minute meeting. They were going to kill.
What follows is an actual transcript of their conversation. It is presented here as a litmus test, a way to determine whether the men who are talking loudly in your Starbucks are, indeed, on the same page:
“Let me do my damn job!”
“I want you to do your damn job.”
“I have to do my damn job!”
“Relax. I want you to do your damn job. We’ll get you cold-calling tomorrow. Now about this guy…”
“He’s a good guy. But he’s very predictable.”
“Not like us.”
“No. But if he talks about salmon, you talk about salmon. If he talks about brisket, you talk about brisket.”
“And you’ll be able to do your damn job. Because you’re an original.”
“Alright, so let’s say Friday. We’re going to say 8:30. Now what time is the meeting?”
“Let’s be realistic. He’s on a train. You’re on a train. Let’s say it’s a 4:00 drop dead time on Friday.”
“Well, I should think we should have the meeting a little bit earlier.”
“We had a 4:30 cutoff on Friday. Realistically…”
“I don’t care. I’ll come home at 7.”
“We’re getting snowed in.”
“Let’s say we do a 4:30. We can concentrate on the meeting.”
“Is that okay with everybody?”
“Okay. 8:30 we meet, 4:30 we eat.”
“Alright. So the next thing that we got throw at us. The Brooklyn Initiative. The theme is pretty much handling the scheduling on that, which is fine by me. Now here’s the thing with that. What day is it? February 3rd? What day do we got?”
“We sat down with them and put together a strategy.”
“The Brooklyn Initiative.”
“Yes. These guys are conversating. The way I see it, they get compensated.”
“They get compensated?”
“In forty or so accounts.”
“We have the list.”
“The problem is that the person in charge of this Initiative wants more, which is pretty much impossible from a logistics standpoint. It’s going to be intricate changes. Impossible. So I’m going to make the Wednesday meeting with one of you guys.”
“Here’s the deal, guys. These guys are seasonal businessmen. I mean, it’s criminal. With that said, there’s not a lot of business out there. But those guys have about a twenty to twenty-two week season. So here’s the deal. Their owners start coming back in March. Whatever it is. By April, they’re back. These guys want to start. These guys gotta start putting their deals together.”
“Right. Swinging. But the moral to the story is — well, this is…”
“That puts it through to the end of April.”
“They’re going to start fluffing their pillows at the end of March.”
“I think we have four to five weeks with them tops.”
“Here’s more on that note. Thank you for opening that door for me. Because I’m going to walk through it. I need to make out the items that we’re going to sell.”
“We got beat up on Friday for saying that. I’ve seen the invoices.”
“So take ’em. This is all I suggest to you. Because the veterans of this table know about planning. No plan has failed.”
“An extra pair of eyes never hurts.”
© 2015, Edward Champion. All rights reserved.