Perceived Effort

I’m not going. Nonetheless …

“They say” that I help them because I condone-certify-applaud their excesses in pursuit of … innovation, a business start-up, etc. Thank you! I say that the late sports super-agent, Mark McCormack (once voted the most powerful man in sports), condoned and certified me in one of my excessive habits.

McCormack said there are times, and not necessarily that infrequently, when it is wise to travel 5,000 miles for a 5-minute meeting. It was a tactic I started using instinctively years ago, when I was working in Washington, in 1974, on drug abuse issues; the fact that I could say, “Look, I was with Ambassador Moynihan in Delhi just three days ago and he assured me that …” was, well, a show-stopper. Without fail! (And worth a 25,000-mile roundtrip in 96 hours.)

I’m not going, this time, as I said at the top of this post. Because a tough situation mostly cleared itself up, or at least went sub-critical. But I changed my plans just yesterday, so that I’d arrive in L.A. from Sydney, doubtless exhausted after 14 hours in the air, at 10 a.m., then take off from LAX two hours later for a 1,500 mile one-way trip, be at my destination about 6 hours, then head back to L.A. and immediately go on to Las Vegas for a difficult speech.

But the point here is that I did not hesitate (and it wasn’t a critically ill family member or some such personal crisis), and it’s something I end up doing at least a couple of times a year. And the power is, as in the D.C. example, literally beyond measure—and almost without fail. Some part is substance, but it’s overwhelmingly psychological. The fact that someone would make an “insane effort” (e.g., travel, exhausted, thousands of miles for a 25-minute audience with whomever) almost always breaks a logjam, and sometimes leads to a solution on the spot.

(Incidentally, this timeless tool is arguably more important than ever—in this age of electronic communication, the personal touch has become more valuable because of its rarity.)

Tom Peters posted this on September 22, 2007, in Strategies.
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