I attended a function on Tuesday in the Microsoft offices here in Melbourne. I was there for a presentation of what had been rated the worlds best intranet – a Melbourne company. There was also a preview of the upcoming Office 2013 by one of the MS marketing dudes. I had been invited by an intranet guru (I think that is now an official role) I had met at a course he had run about 18 months ago, and then ran into a couple of times after at networking functions. He’s a nice guy, an interesting guy, and seemed keen to cement a friendship. He was the headline presenter on the day.
The other main presenter was someone else I knew, though had not seen for nearly 5 years. Back then I was acting in the role of IT manager and had engaged this consultancy to do some work for us. I had a very particular notion of what was required, and probably pretty demanding in my expectations – always the best way to be in my experience. As it happens the consultancy we engaged, quite small at the time, were equal to the task. Between the lot of us we did some good work, affected some positive change, and cemented an odd sort of connection which exists to this day.
The guy presenting was one of those guys back then, a partner in the company pitching to us what they could do. With him then was the other partner, and present CEO, with whom I formed a more substantial, and sort of odd, relationship with.
Not long after that initial meeting I got a call from the CEO asking if I was interested in working with them in the role of Practice Manager. I was interested. We had coffee, we had beers, we chatted and exchanged emails as time passed. In the meantime I had handed over to a full time IT manager and returned to my previous role, which dwindled away as the company declined. My friend the CEO assured me that it would happen, just not yet. I’d heard that before, and gradually drifted away into other things. I was right – nothing happened.
I’m not sure what the next connection was, but I remember reading about how this company in 2009 was rated by BRW as one of the 50 fastest growing businesses in the country. That piqued my interest, and I felt a pang of regret that I hadn’t got on board when the opportunity might have been there. Somehow I got talking to the CEO again, and again he asked if I wanted to work with them in some vaguely defined role. This was about 2010. Maybe, I said. So I met with his HR manager – the CEO being away in one of the newly opened opened offices in NYC, London or Shanghai. The HR manager didn’t know what to make of me. She had no clear instructions about what to do with this guy who lumbered onto her doorstep. I was similarly disappointed. I remember at one stage sending an angry email to the CEO about how he had jerked me around twice now.
Time went on, I ended up working across the way from Microsoft in Freshwater place, nearby where this company had relocated. Getting coffee one morning I bumped into the CEO once more, not long after I had watched him appear on Secret Millionaire – their company had come on exponentially from the small outfit I knew in 2008. Once more he expressed interest in me. By this time I was very busy and making a lot of money, so nothing more came of it – except, oddly, I engaged with them in my new role. Then, about 6 months later, I left that role and again he suggested I do some work with them – with the same outcome. A bunch of cancelled meetings after and nothing had happened.
Lo and behold then I’m sitting there in the audience watching the other partner do his very impressive thing. At the end he tells us there’s an open bar around the corner, and the chance to catch-up for more discussion. Of the 60 odd there about 20 adjourn to the bar, including me. First opportunity I get, free beer in hand, I walk up to the partner prepared to remind him of my identity. No need. He sees me coming and exclaims “H!” (or something similar). We shake hands, and I compliment on his great memory. And he remembers it all, remembers the job he did for us, is aware of the relationship I have with his partner, he even tells me that when he saw my name on the guest list he went and checked out my website. We talk profitably, and are joined by others, over a second, third, fourth, and ultimately, a fifth beer. I was only staying for one. The sun is shining, it’s a bright, warm day in excess of 30C and I feel like I am back in one of my elements. Once more I feel myself speak with the authority that comes from confident opinion. They nod, agree, ask questions, and once more I wonder why it is so hard if it can seem so easy?
By the time a tray of shots comes by the small crowd has dwindled to about 9. I’m chatting very productively with the events manager about over events she has planned, about the races upcoming, and feeling very much in a familiar groove. I toss the shot back, bid my farewells, and cross the river to Flinders Street station and to home. Maybe it can be, I think.