This morning was rough. I do not have them often, but the stress, lack of sleep, fears about financial security, etc. just got to me this morning.
I was speaking to my business partner BP on the phone and I told him I was stressed. Unlike anyone I have ever met, he actually wanted to hear the litany so he could help fix it — and then he did.
We disconnected briefly and I just cried for about 45 seconds. Then, I got back to work. By the time he called back about 10 minutes later, I had moved on and he was very impressed with my resilience.
Because I am a lawyer, I am often the target for people who are looking for someone to blame or abuse. It comes with the job. I do a bit of gatekeeping for BP and, depending upon how we have positioned me, people sometimes view me as ministerial rather than as BP’s equal, especially since I am younger (and frankly, poorer) than he. Sometimes, it’s advantageous for us, but this week, I had two separate encounters with executives with companies with whom we’re pondering working. One man is calling me 3-4 times in an hour once or twice a day. The other tends to be extremely insulting to me in writing, essentially implying that I am incompetent.
This morning, I mentioned it as I reason I was less than enthusiastic about having to finish my responsibility on each project. Within minutes, he called each of them, read them the riot act and recalibrated their understanding of who I am and alerted them that I could kill their deals because I am annoyed with their boorishness. Seriously, I was moved that he stood up for me. I know I shouldn’t be, but I nearly sighed “my hero.” So often, I have to deal with all of it myself or just take the abuse or try to gradually modify their behavior. He just fixed it, strengthened my position, and garnered apologies. Well played, BP.
BP and I have two very different specialities and two very different industry backgrounds. He called this afternoon to ask me to ponder how to structure an idea he had. Without any pause, I outlined exactly how it would work, which items would be built into which part, expanded upon his idea and introduced new revenue streams, etc. When I stopped, he asked me a couple of questions about what I had said, and then asked if I needed some time to develop and refine the strategy. I told him that’s exactly what I had just done. He said “Really? You don’t have to think about it?” I told him I no more needed to think about it than he would if I asked him to sell a bar of soap . . . some things, you just know.
We laugh about the fact that we spend nearly all of our time working in and worrying about an industry in which neither of us had any background, doing things far outside our areas of expertise. When he asks me things that I know, about industries I worked in, concerning techniques or strategies I helped pioneer, yeah, that takes about 10 seconds. I need that every once in a while, the reminder that I am an expert in something valuable. It happened twice today and it felt great both times.
I’ve been on this tightrope I’ve been on for so long . . . everyone watching, no room for error, filled with absolue terror, and trying not to look down. The stakes are so high, the payoff is enormous (so enormous we’re casually house-shopping for new digs for me — and I cannot bear to tell my mother the prices). I’ve sacrificed so much personally and financially to succeed. I need the challenge. I need to keep learning and growing and scaring the hell out of myself.
It helps to know I am not alone. I may hate him some moments or some days, but I also absolutely love BP, too. I needed him to protect me today, to let me know he was working to fix the causes of my stress, and to know that I was valued and valuable. He knocked each thing out of the park.
Well done, BP.