Last week I had a film shoot in California. It was a multiday shoot with a new division of a company we have been working with for many years. Thanks to Covid, we had never actually met any of the clients we worked with on this shoot in person.
The shoot represented more than just another day out of the office. It meant that we began an official relationship, in person, with 7 new people. It was a great reminder that some people are much taller and some are much shorter than they appear online.
Everything changes when you meet in person. The conversations are different. The connections are different. The chemistry is different. The compliments feel different in person. And there is much less asking, ‘Can you guys hear me?’
You can’t experience the full pull of human magnetism on the phone or via video conference. Zoom doesn’t allow for the simultaneous conversations that happen naturally among teams when they meet in person.
The warmth of a smile and the heartiness of a laugh feel different in person. The power of a handshake or a hug dwarfs the impact of an online wave. As a result, you leave the in-person experience with a greater affinity for one another. And you remember why you are supposed to brush your teeth and wear pants to meetings.
The power of the in-person experience is why we can’t all work from home all the time. While the flexibility of virtual teams offers several advantages, it eventually creates a disadvantage. Because in-person connections are more powerful than online. And you leave yourself vulnerable to stronger in-person relationships developed with someone else. It’s true at work, at school, and in our personal lives.
See your people in real life. You create stronger bonds with your clients, coworkers, friends, and family when you are together in person. The energy exchanged in person is powerful. Leading to a more meaningful experience. And a stronger desire to see each other again. Which is the key to long-term relationships.
*If you know someone who could benefit from this message, please share it with them.
On Monday morning I woke up in Orlando, Florida. Most people would be thrilled to be in Florida in February. But before the sun came up I was at the airport, leaving sunny Florida to head back to Wisconsin. And I was thrilled. Because I had a very interesting afternoon planned.
I landed at Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport at 11:30am. I was eager to get off the plane. But the universe had other plans. In fact, I was kept on the plane for at least 30 minutes, at the gate, while police were summoned to deal with some human shenanigans that unfolded on the flight.
Once I finally got off the plane I hurried to the parking garage and jumped in my car. I sped off towards the Illinois border, just 30 miles to the south. I had 3 meetings planned that afternoon. I hadn’t prepared at all. I did no research. No competitive analysis. No powerpoint presentation. Because on a random Monday afternoon in February, I simply made plans to see 3 old friends.
My interesting afternoon started with lunch at the Waterfront Warehouse in Kenosha, Wisconsin. If you are ever looking for a great place to meet someone for lunch midway between Milwaukee and Chicago, this is the place.
My seat had a great view of Lake Michigan. But what was really fun was having lunch with my friend Bryan Specht. Bryan lives in Chicago. I live in Milwaukee. So we decided to meet in the middle, like Maren Morris said.
Bryan is a rockstar marketer. We first met when his former agency, Olson, was considering buying my former agency, Engauge. Bryan and I got to know each other through that process, and I really liked him. So we stayed in touch. But we hadn’t seen each other for 7 years.
As we ate we talked about life, and business. We talked about entrepreneurship, private equity firms, acquisitions, and earn-outs. We talked about the challenges of organizational integration. We talked about the people we knew in common. And Steve McQueen. And Monaco watches. (Bryan has the one I want.) We sounded like adult business people who have a lot of knowledge and experience. Which apparently we do.
Bryan and I are the same age. We were both college athletes. Our last names both end in ‘echt’. And he recently started his own marketing consultancy called Salient Group Ventures. I started my own advertising and idea agency, The Weaponry, 4 years ago. So it was great to spend time with someone I had do much in common with. We were both eager for more time together. So we’ve committed to making Kenosha Konversations a regular thing. (We didn’t actually kall them Kenosha Konversations. That’s just a kute name I made up for this story).
After my lunch with Bryan I drove 15 miles north to a spot in Racine, Wisconsin called Route 20. There, I met with my college track and field teammate at The University of Wisconsin, Mark Dahms.
Mark is wicked Smart. He was the valedictorian of his senior class at Waukesha Catholic Memorial High School. He was a great student at Wisconsin, and went on to get his MBA at Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management. I always thought that was where you went to study cereal. But apparently it’s like, a good school, for smart people.
Mark has been with SC Johnson since he graduated from college. But don’t think Mark hasn’t gotten around. He worked for SCJ in England, where he met his wife, who was working for SCJ. #RaisedEyebrow They also lived in Australia. And apparently, when you clean a mirror with Windex south of the equator, you should wipe it counter clockwise. (I may have just made that up.)
I had not seen Mark in 14 years. So we caught up on life, work and family. I learned that a traditional Polish Christmas celebration may involve keeping a carp in your bathtub. And I was reminded that if you were really tall in college, you are probably still going to be really tall 24 years after your graduate. Did I mention that Mark once made a bet that he could eat 6 giant fudge brownies for dessert at our college training table. That didn’t turn out well for anyone.
A Symphonic Ending
My 3rd meeting of the day was with my friend Camela Langendorf. Camela and I met our freshman year of college at the University of Wisconsin. We met in Symphony class. Which is way harder than it sounds. (I still got an A.)
Camela was always funny and smart and fun to be around. Today, she is a great photographer, and owns her own business called Varitay Studios. The company name comes from the fact that Cam is not just a little bit tay. Or even regular tay.
Before we got together on Monday, Camela and I had not seen each other since… 1995. That’s right,it had been 25 years since we last saw each other in person! Yet it was like we had seen each other yesterday.
We talked about life and family and careers. We talked about college and friends and the pursuit of happiness.
We also talked about photography and entrepreneurship. We dug into profitability and business development and the power of great employees. We talked about great books. And we talked about how we should get together again soon.
Why Do This?
So why did I schedule time on a Monday afternoon to see friends who I haven’t seen for 7, 14 and 25 years? Because life is short. And our human relations are extremely valuable. At the end of our days, the only thing that will really matter is the impact we have on each other. So I make staying in touch with my people a priority. It’s one of my best habits (along with smiling first thing when I open my eyes in the morning).
Who haven’t you seen lately that you should? A friend? A family member? A business associate? Your waxer? This week I challenge you to make time to reconnect with someone you haven’t seen in years. Maybe even decades. We have a limited amount of time on this planet. You never know when that time will run out. So make plans to see your people now.
See your people in real life.
*If you know someone who could benefit form this story, please share it with them.
Welcome to the second post in my Days Of The Week Series (my gut says this will be one of the seven best). Today we’re talking about Friday. Which is really more like Friday! It’s one of the most popular days of all time (see what I did there?) Everyone loves Friday. But I don’t love the way we often think about the day.
We all know the phrase TGIF. The thing I dislike about this is that Thank God It’s Friday is really saying, ‘OMG! I am so thankful I have reached the end of my week of suffering!’
But on Fridays at the Perfect Agency Project we want to: Make the most. Not just coast. So we are rebranding the day as Phone a Friend Friday. Or Fone a Friend Friday. Or Phone A Phriend Phriday. Your choice.
Relationships are really, really important in business. I’ve made a genuine effort to develop, maintain and grow mine. In fact, people are one of my favorite things about this planet. And they were an important factor in me choosing to live on Earth.
Today we use lots of ways to keep in touch. We text, email, tweet, snap, chat, IM, Link and stalk people. But Fridays were made for phone calls. Because schedules free up and the pace slows down at the end of the week. So instead of using that lighter load at the end of the week to knock off early, or hang out at either the real or the proverbial water cooler, I encourage you to call someone in your network that you haven’t talked to in a while.
At a minimum, my Phone a Friend Friday calls are always a highly enjoyable end to the week. But they routinely provide great insights, advice and learning opportunities. They help strengthen my relationships. They often shine a light on another friend or contact that could use a call, a hand or a word of encouragement. And these calls regularly lead to new opportunities for me to work with some of my favorite people again.
So don’t start mailing it in just yet my friends. Pick up the phone today and end the week on a high note. Your Friday calls may prove to be the most valuable part of your week on both a personal and professional level. If you don’t know who to call, call me (614-256-2850). Even if I can’t talk at the time I’m sure to call you back. And my voicemail messages alone are usually worth the call. Have a great day. And I look forward to catching up soon.