top of page

Empty Invites


I was invited to a regional meeting for the US West Coast to give a large group of leaders an intro to what they could do with Salesforce based on what was developed and actively available to them.  I highlighted significant changes that saved large amounts of administrative effort and time.  Additionally, the new system was easier to use and provided timely information on their PCs and mobile devices.  It was a no-brainer as nothing had to be created especially for them; it was all done.  They had to stop using their old Excel spreadsheets that used the “Sneaker Network” (my term for running/sending files and information around using any means possible) to get around and start using modern CRMs. Yes, it looked different, but it was incredibly easier.   Before I set out from Florida to San Francisco, I was provided my plane tickets, transfers, and hotel stay by my host, the global leader of the team.  He supported the effort. He was spending significant money on the system itself, all of this “proof” allowed me to speak during his team's precious meeting time and covered all of my significant development and travel expenses.  He is a brilliant and nice man, and I knew I could count on him to help me help his team to hit a home run.  F*ck, was I wrong.

The Incident

I felt confident and well-prepared as I prepared for my presentation, getting mic'd up and reviewing my notes. I had done my research, understood their project challenges, and knew their history with outdated systems. Moreover, I had the support of their leaders, making me believe that this presentation would be a breeze. However, things took an unexpected turn as the previous speaker left the stage, and it was my turn to shine.

The emcee introduced me, and as I took the stage, the audience greeted me warmly. I launched my presentation on the jumbotron, excited to share the benefits and possibilities of the new system. However, it was at that very moment when everything went awry. The leader who had invited me and sponsored my presence stood up from the front row, accompanied by his first-in-command, and visibly walked out of the room. The room fell silent as everyone witnessed this unfortunate incident. It was clear that my efforts had been undermined in a big way.

Nonetheless, I continued with my presentation, trying to maintain composure. The audience engagement was high, with many questions and murmurs of excitement about the potential time savings and ease of accessing information. However, deep down, I knew this incident had a far-reaching impact. It unveiled a sobering truth - the glimpse of the future they had witnessed clashed with their leader's expectations.

Through his actions, their leader implicitly communicated that while he accepted the concept of progress, he remained firmly rooted in the past. Despite the new system's potential, it became evident that he still expected to use Excel spreadsheets. While he promised not to hinder progress and acknowledged the value of this remarkable tool, his actions spoke louder than words. Behind the curtain, he seemed indifferent and unconcerned about the new system's success. This unfortunate incident effectively condemned people to operate in two parallel systems, forcing them to adopt the new one while still adhering to their preferred old reporting methods.

It was disheartening as I witnessed the clash between a promising future and resistance to outdated practices. However, I remained determined to advocate for progress, believing that the potential benefits of the new system could eventually sway even the most stubborn of leaders.

What a d*ck  🦆

What's The Big Deal?

Allies are frequently thought of as friends, supporters of your efforts for the collective good of the users and operators. They should be trusted to support your effort(s) when you are not in the room to explain and/or defend yourself.  More importantly, they should be people to openly promote the benefits of the change you and your teams are leading and debunking false thoughts that may pop out of the woodwork when you are not there.  Lastly, and most importantly, if these allies are senior and respected, they should be counted on to open doors (and keep them open) so that the project team can focus on the task required to get things done.  Fortunately, you have been reading this book long enough to know I am about to lob a turd bomb over the fence. Get out your umbrella.

Allies in the business world are not much different than many allies in the military/political world.  They must always be massaged.  And if you don't maintain them, satisfy them, and ensure you understand and address their whims, then assume they are no different than anyone else.  Maybe worse, especially when considering project work requiring timely deployments, change of process, and training.  You can not let your guard down or reduce your attentiveness to an ally after you have their support.  If anything, you need to pay more attention to them.  Your attention can be focused on ensuring their happiness and instructing them on where to help you best, but never forget that they expect something from you.  Always.


FAIL 😱- Let's take a closer look at this situation. This effort had all the makings of a success story, with a well-executed presentation, supportive materials, and even an invite from the global leader. 

However, despite these initial advantages, it never got off the ground. In this scenario, at least two crucial missteps caused things to falter:

• The global leader failed to sit in the room with their staff, witness what their team saw, and hear what their team asked. Without this firsthand experience, it was near impossible for the leader to devise a plan that met their team's needs and aligned with their goals.

• Even though the leader saw the potential for dashboards and reports from new tools, this vision became lost regarding actual implementation. Ultimately, it was too easy for the leader to continue doing things the way they always had, with their staff's happiness sadly not valued enough.

From the staff's perspective, they were excited about the new tools and eager to use them. However, why would they change without a mandate to fully integrate these tools and the looming thought of continuing to use the old system? Ultimately, their hands are tied and accountable to their leader's direction and requirements. When efficiency is jeopardized by the need to use old and new tools, there is no incentive to adopt new technologies.

What appeared to be a slam dunk ultimately gave way to an absolute strikeout. The key takeaway here is that even with the most promising of plans, execution, and follow-through are paramount. Foresight, active listening, and commitment to change are required to ensure that the potential benefits of new technology are not lost during implementation. By staying true to these tenets, organizations can stay ahead of the curve, meet their user's needs, and realize the full potential of their CRMs.

Lesson Learned: Guard Against Complacency


In reflecting on the situation, I realized that I fell victim to the dangerous trap of complacency. The overwhelming success of the event and the active participation had blindsided me, causing me to overlook the need for a healthy dose of skepticism about the "real" next steps. Instead of rushing back to the airport, assuming everything was in order, I should have stayed in town and made the extra effort to ensure that all the hard work had not been in vain.

It's crucial to remember that the pursuit of success is a continuous journey. We should never become complacent, even in the face of apparent triumph. Success is not written in stone, and its meaning can often be distorted or misunderstood. We must remain vigilant, constantly challenging ourselves and questioning the reality of what we perceive as a win.


What I Could Have Done Differently: Building a Safety Net


Suppose I had the benefit of a crystal ball. In that case, there are several actions I would have taken to avoid the pitfalls of complacency:

Coordinated Expectations; I would have proactively coordinated with the event's leader, ensuring they joined me on stage after my talk to set clear expectations for the next steps. This partnership would have helped align our understanding of what success meant and avoided potential misunderstandings.

Expressing Concerns; I should have contacted the leader immediately after the session and candidly expressed my concerns. It's important to communicate openly and honestly, especially when doubts have already crept into our minds. By voicing my apprehension, we could have worked together to address potential issues or gaps, ensuring that the necessary actions were taken promptly.

Developing a Remediation Plan; Once we had acknowledged the concerns, creating a plan to remedy the situation would have been crucial. This plan would have involved identifying potential gaps or improvement areas and taking the necessary steps to rectify them. By embracing a proactive approach, we could have mitigated possible negative consequences and ensured a seamless path to success.


The lessons learned from this experience reinforce the need to remain vigilant, question perceived wins, and challenge our assumptions. Pursuing success never ceases, and we are responsible for safeguarding against complacency. By coordinating expectations, expressing concerns, and developing remediation plans, we can confidently navigate the uncertain waters of success and mitigate potential pitfalls.

* * *




bottom of page