Know Thy Company
Know thy company!
The following is an excerpt from my upcoming book, “Engage!”
It’s been 861 days since I left my life in Tamarindo and moved to Canada.
When I left Costa Rica, the temperature was 35c and when I arrived two days later at my new abode in Whistler, it was -15c. Yet this 50 degree difference doesn’t even compare to the 180 my life has taken. We all make choices, but sometimes, no matter what the guru’s tell you, choice is not always ours. Its how you react the obstacles that are often hurled like boulders in front of that can your defining trait. Good or bad.
In 2002 I was the President of a small video game company that specialized in skill games and tournaments. We had just got our listing on the OTCBB, and had been invited to speak at an investor’s conference in New York. The CEO of the Company was a real fat fucktard, and his buddy, the CFO had an ego the size of Donald Trump’s hair. So it was decided that the CEO would present at the conference because, in his words, “he deal was too important to blow”.
We flew on the red eye on Sunday night because the thought was that we should be there a day early to get rested and prepared. Right. Monday was spent touring New York, visiting the 911 site, going to the top of the Empire State building and so on. I may have got a nap in somewhere.
Dinner was a forgettable moment, but the drinks at the plaza were kind of entertaining as I found myself sitting next to Bruce Willis and enjoying some decent pinot noir. Later in the evening, I found our CEO in the bathroom snorting coke. Great. So here’s my boss doing rails before a big day of meetings. Great. He said he was going out to get some more and that he would meet us back in the Plaza. He was a no show so an hour later I took off and went to my room.
I was awoken the next morning by the CFO knocking at my door telling me that we should probably get on over to the conference soon. I told him to grab some breakfast at McDonalds for me across the street and by the time he came back I was good to go. We went over to the CEO’s room, and there was a drink cart outside that was littered with empty bottles and late night food. After what seemed like a lifetime of knocking, the CEO answered the door wearing nothing but speedo-type briefs. Did I mention that he must have weighed 150 kilos? He has a big rash across his face, the type you get from falling on cement. His eyes were black and he smelled really noxious. There was no way in hell he had slept. The was still powder caked in his nostrils. A fucking disaster.
He said, “Pat. You’re doing the presentation.” The presentation was in two hours, and to be honest, I I didn’t do any drugs but was a little hung over from the Pinot the night before.
The CFO said that we’d better get going and that I needed to practice the presentation. And this is something that I told him and that is one of the most important things that anybody in any sales or management function needs to have under their belt.
“Know thy company”
It’s not enough to be able to talk in conversation generically about what your company does, you must be able at any given moment to give a full presentation on the who, where’s and what’s. It must be complete enough for someone to make an informed decision whether or not they want to invest or buy your product.
Anyways, with 30 minutes to go both the CEO and CFO were panicking because I was nowhere to be seen. In fact, I was having a double Caesar back at the Plaza, which happened to be around the corner. I find it always pays to get your mind off things, and Bruce Willis regaling about his movie Hart’s War was doing the trick. With 10 minutes to go, I said goodbye to Mr. Willis and walked into the conference at the exact time they were asking for our company to present.
Went to the podium. No notes. No powerpoint. Killed it. Twenty minutes later we signed a financing deal with a group that was in the audience for $10 million.
One of the questions posed by the investment bank’s head of marketing was how I could present to 100 people without the use of aides. I explained that no one has any right to speak about their company unless they know it cold. The real reason, of course, was that the PowerPoint presentation looked like a 3 year old had designed it.
But since that day, I have always been prepared to give a speech or an interview on a moment’s notice. Case and point is the recent announcements by Ross’ Gold.
I had just come back from a physio appointment for my shoulder which I had injured while snowboarding when the phone rang and a women’s voice came on asking if Ross was available for an interview. I politely replied that we weren’t ready for any press as we were still formulating our business plan. That’s when she told me we were the lead story on the digital version of the Vancouver Sun.
Some idiot (me) had not thought when he posted a link to the new corporate website on Ross Rebagliati’s Facebook page and Jeff Lee had picked up the story and written a piece on it. Now I have always enjoyed Jeff’s columns and tweets, so I was a bit surprised when he told me he had tried to contact the company for comments before running the story. He said he Facebook messaged Ross. The truth is he wanted a scoop, and that was fine with me.
The question we posed to ourselves was should we continue with the interviews now that the cat was out of the bag. By the time Ross was able to speak with me from the top of Symphony Bowl on Whistler Mountain, we had about a dozen interview requests. We had no choice and we ploughed in, head first.
In retrospect we could have done a better job, but even though the Company had only been an idea on a beer coaster at Seppos a week earlier, we knew enough to be able to speak with knowledge and conviction.
So always be prepared to speak with knowledge about your company from the first day onwards. It will pay off.