Walking through the three-story law office with the owner by my side, I was embarrassed. He didn’t know how I felt, but I sure did. It wasn’t the humiliation you feel when falling down in front of a crowd; it was that deeper, more potent, disappointed-in-myself feeling. It was knowing I should have done better, and it was hitting me hard.
The building was full of his employees. I counted more than sixty folks who worked for him.
Earlier, we’d chatted in his private suite for an hour. His office was beautiful. I’d requested the meeting because I wanted to learn how he’d built his practice. He told me his story.
Then we took the grand tour as he walked me through the top floor, the middle floor, the ground floor, and out to my car.
We stopped at door after door and he introduced me to each of his team members. He knew every employee’s name, their spouse’s names, and their kid’s names. He had questions to ask every one he spoke to, or comments to make about something that was going on in their lives.
Each person lit up as we stepped into their space; they rose, we shook hands, and I felt increasingly ashamed of myself. He continued the chitchat, exhibiting an understanding of everyone on his team.
My face burned red because I knew I didn’t know nearly as much about my team members and their lives and their families. That was true even though I had a much smaller team. He knew things I wasn’t even sure I’d be able to learn if I tried. He knew what one family had enjoyed for dinner the night before when they grilled ribs in their backyard; he knew about grandparents and their medical issues; he knew about concerns with their kids. How’d he know all that? How did he remember it?
He gave me all sorts of business management and marketing advice, but I left his building with a strong suspicion that those tips weren’t the reason for his success.
Yeah, I was embarrassed.