We all have to work our hardest to stay focused these days. There's so much going on that it's becoming increasingly difficult to keep the juggling act going. Inevitably, one of the balls falls to the ground. A story I'd like to share is about one of those times when what you think is a well-planned evening nearly turns into a disaster. Sometimes we get so caught up with meeting a deadline or trying to make a good impression that some critical details get overlooked.
It happened to a dear friend of mine who was visiting some of his top clients in Cleveland while the World Series was going on. He's with a major investment banking firm and, like many in his business, does a lot of client entertaining. Often that means skyboxes during the playoffs, ringside seats at major boxing matches, 50-yard-line seats at the Super Bowl and that sort of thing.
My friend met about six of his clients at a trendy restaurant in downtown Cleveland. After a nice dinner and a couple of drinks at a local bar, it was time to go to the ballgame between the Indians and the Marlins. The group walked over to Jacobs Field a few minutes before the game was to start. My friend gave the tickets to the person at the gate, but as the tickets were passed through a scanner they were rejected. My friend was puzzled, as was the ticket agent, because everything seemed to be in order. But then the woman examined the tickets more closely, and that's when she dropped the bombshell. She told the group that the tickets-which didn't carry a date, only the game number-were for the next night, not this particular evening. A moment of silence ensued while my friend said he virtually saw his life pass before his eyes because he was so embarrassed. What would you do? My friend merely told his clients: "I am so sorry, but let's do the whole thing all over again tomorrow night. Same time, same place!" He said he was terrified and didn't know what else to do. Fortunately, his clients took it all in stride.
My friend had flown in from Chicago that afternoon to entertain his clients. He caught the last flight back home that evening and then flew back to Cleveland the next day. He and his clients had dinner at the same place, went to the same bar for a drink and then walked over to the ballpark. This time the tickets were accepted. My friend says he will never forget the incident and will always check his tickets for any event at least a dozen times before he dares take clients anywhere.
That same friend shared a similar horror story that happened earlier to one of his colleagues and some of his big-hitter clients. This time the scene was Augusta, Ga., and the Masters golf tournament. When the host presented the tickets for entry into the tournament grounds, he and his clients were suddenly ushered away to a tent where they were interrogated by security officials regarding the counterfeit tickets they had unknowingly presented at the gate. It was later determined that the firm that sold the tickets was itself duped by another supplier. Eventually the investment banker and his clients got to watch the tournament, but it was certainly an uncomfortable incident and could have ruined his relationship with those clients. He was lucky they were good sports.
Both stories are scary to say the least. All of us entertain at one time or another, and just maybe, if we're not thorough in our planning, we might end up in a similar predicament. If that happens, I advise you to smile a lot, pray and try not to panic. Easier said than done, I'm sure.
Doublecheck the details,
Charles S. Lauer