I’ve spent a significant slice of my time at Floricane having coffee or lunch with friends, community partners, prospects, clients and former clients. Conversations range from personal to professional, from celebration to complaint. I talk. I listen. I offer perspective, or advice.
It’s all just part of what I do. One time, I’ll pick up the tab, and the next time they will. Sometimes we simply split the bill.
Lately, something new has been happening. Old clients are actively reaching out to use me, or others on the Floricane team, as problem solvers, counselors and brainstorm generators. These one-off conversations, usually lasting one or two hours, seem to provide our partners with space to think aloud with a somewhat neutral, well-informed thought partner.
Recently, in these limited engagements, we’ve explored a wide range of issues and opportunities. We’ve thought aloud about different ways to restructure an organization; armed two client leaders with tips and techniques to make their summer staff retreats meaningful and fun; explored implementation approaches for another organization’s strategic plan.
Our clients benefit from the limited, low obligation engagement. We stay involved, and add value. It’s a space that serves everyone well.
Proof that I’m no businessman came over breakfast a few weeks ago. After an intense bout of problem solving and idea generating, my client said, “You are going to bill me for this, aren’t you?” I don’t exaggerate when I say I stared a bit blankly at him for half a second.
It took another staff member to remind me that three recent conversations paid our rent for the month.
My next move? Inviting a smart businessperson out for lunch, and paying her for some perspectives on how to run an increasingly complex organization. It might be time for a taste of my own medicine.