This week, I am going to highlight two special relationships that have had a disproportionate impact on the growth and success of The Latimer Group. It’s “Relationship Week” here at TLG headquarters!
I founded The Latimer Group in 2002, with little more than an idea, three extra rations of energy and passion, and encouragement from several important people in my life (more on that in the next blog post). After much conversation, we (sort of) sharpened the idea, set up a website with some basic content, and launched, headfirst with no helmet, into the world of small business ownership.
(Aside: From the beginning, I have always spoken in the first person plural “we” when describing The Latimer Group, for several reasons: I had a Board of Advisors, (who were at the time really just some good friends lending me their name); I had an unbelievably supportive partner, Emily, who was part of the idea from the very beginning; I had our dog Ridley, who always sat with me in the “office” (which was the spare bedroom in our boarding school dorm apartment); and I always intended that The Latimer Group would be a true group. So my use of “we” was at a minimum, inclusive and hopeful!)
For the first year and a half, I networked hard, took in some occasional work here and there, and tried to be as patient as possible.
And then, in 2004, I was introduced to a man named Kent Brittan. The introduction came from my father-in-law Tom. Tom and Kent were then, and still are to this day, close friends. At the time, Kent was a senior executive at a major Connecticut-based corporation, and he happened to mention to Tom that he wanted to hire a coach to help his team get ready for a round of important business presentations. Tom recommended that Kent speak to me, which he did.
To make a long story a bit shorter, I met with Kent, and eventually he invited me into his office to meet with him and a colleague Dan, to make a formal business pitch. This was going to be a huge moment for me and The Latimer Group. I made my pitch, in the most honest and authentic way possible, and even though I was young, new and lacked any sort of a client base, Kent and Dan agreed to give me a chance. A pilot workshop became a series of workshops, which became a series of introductions to others inside the company… and the relationship with the company continues strongly through until today. And it has led to relationships at several other companies as well.
Whenever we bring a new teammate onto the team, I always start their onboarding with a review of our relationship map, where we show the companies we work with, and how we got to know each company. And at the center of that map, always, is the name Kent Brittan, whom we refer to around here as “client zero.” He is the root of our entire client tree. Everything has flowed out of that first round of conversations in 2004 with Kent.
Fast forward to June 27, 2019. Our team, now seven people strong, was holding its annual mid-year retreat and on the agenda was a visit with Kent (now retired) and his wonderful wife Charlotte. For the members of my team, this was their first opportunity to meet a man they had heard so much about. During our visit with Kent and Charlotte, we caught up on old times, discussed so many names of people we had worked with, and most of all made sure Kent knew how grateful we are to him. I pointed to the entire Latimer team, and said, “None of this happens if you had not taken a chance on The Latimer Group.”
This is a great story, one that I am proud to share. I am grateful for that first introduction, and for the chance Kent took on me. I am proud of how that first opportunity has blossomed into so much more. And I am most proud of that fact that fifteen years later, Kent and I are still in touch, now as friends instead of business partners. And every time I see him, I always tell him “thank you.”
Why am I sharing this story with you? Because it is a very “human” business story, highlighting some basic and necessary behaviors. Nurture the relationships in your life. Show gratitude. Stay in touch with people. And when someone gives you a chance, do everything you can to make them proud.
And finally, if someone has ever given you a chance, be humble and remember that your hard work and skill still required a break from someone else. We all need a helping hand, at one point or another.
Kent Brittan gave me a hand, at a moment when I needed it. He could have gone to any number of larger, established coaching and training firms. But he chose The Latimer Group and me. I will never forget that. And I have spent the fifteen years since extending my hand out to others in the same way Kent extended his to me.
Have a great day, people. And if you get a chance today, extend a hand to someone else who needs a lift.
We believe that great communication skills change the world. We transform people and organizations of all sizes with simple, repeatable techniques, through an integrated platform of corporate training, coaching, and asynchronous learning.
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