Excellence & Presence

On August 13th, we announced a new offering to a select group of disciples that were ready for an intense program that was designed to stretch and grow participants’ strengths and skills in ways that aren’t possible in other sessions. We aggressively set the start date for the five month program for September 10th. Although the class was almost full, we realized on Wednesday that a few of the candidates were waiting for approval from “above”. After much discussion with my associates, last evening, I sent this email to the people who had already registered.

As you know from our Applications Sessions together, I preach “Promise what you can deliver and deliver what you promise.” I also believe that we at David Kurlan & Associates are held to a higher standard and should always be aware that you are watching the example that we set for you by our actions. With that in mind, you can imagine the conflict that I feel as I deliver the following message. We have decided to delay the start of the RainMaker Clinics to September 24th rather than the 10th. Without making excuses or placing blame, we are waiting for final commitments from a couple of clients who must approve their employee’s participation in the program. We considered starting on the 10th and adding the new participants on the 24th, but after hours, Wednesday, we agreed that it was important to the group that the entire group start and move through the process together so that they can learn to support and learn from each other. I appreciate your understanding and assure you that this minor delay will make for a stronger program. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me directly.

Rick Roberge

If you want to see a lesson in my email, feel free, but the lessons that I want to point out are in a couple of the responses that I received.

From Rob Jewett:

It must have been that Eagan guy. I just KNOW it. One or more of HIS clients must have held this up . . . Gosh . . . I hope it wasn’t my questioning that caused this delay!

At any rate, your message reminds me of a television show to which I have become inexplicably addicted. Bravo’s “Top Chef” was on last night. In this show, a bunch of folks are competing for a large prize and great opportunity in the professional culinary industry. One of the competitors last night finished his recipe and sampled it. He decided that it was so bad that he would not submit it to the judge. Rather than putting out something of which he was not proud, he chose to offer nothing, and hope to make up for it with a big hit in the next round. We at Terracon also believe that we are better off if we are late delivering the product that fits the customer’s need than if we are on time with an incomplete or inappropriate product. Besides, we’ll probably pay late, too.


Look at Rob’s use of humor in the first paragraph. First the tease of Mike. Then pointing at himself as the possible cause. Then he relates our decision to a recent TV show where the decision was not to offer something that wasn’t ready. Finally, he makes us feel very comfortable by pointing out that our decision is in close alignment with his own company’s philosophy. He wraps it up with the humorous little poke about payment.

Ed Jette had a slightly different approach.

Just get them closed, Ed

We have some great clients. It’s easy to see why these companies were selected for this elite RainMaker Clinic. They have the ability to be “present”. They demand quality of themselves and consequently can expect it from others, while at the same time recognizing that stuff happens. Lastly, they approach business and service seriously, but are always ready to inject humor into the moment to keep everybody comfortable.

Thank you, gentlemen.

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5 thoughts on “Excellence & Presence

  1. To conclude the story on “Top Chef”, the end result for not making anything and then trying to make up for it in the next challenge with two dishes instead of one got the guy booted off the show. His Hubris annoyed his teammates and the judges.

  2. And the moral of the story is that sometimes when you stand on your principles and don’t lower your standards to the world around you, the competition and even the establishment might not like you showing them up. In the “Top Chef” example, I wouldn’t be surprised if the contestant knew that he might be thrown off the show if he didn’t play by the rules and decided not to submit a mediocre entry anyway. Maybe he would rather not compete than submit something that he wasn’t proud of.Kudos to him!That being said, sometimes good customers will not be as “understanding” as ours were and may end the relationship because you didn’t deliver as expected. No problem! A promise is a promise. Tuesday is Tuesday. Zero defects is zero defects. If your customer expects it, they have every right to get it and if they don’t, they have the right to not understand.So, Promise what you’re gonna deliver and deliver what you promise!

  3. Jeanne is right about the Top Chef contestant. Howie was not well liked (I didn’t like him myself). His failure to deliver in that first round was NOT the reason for his departure, though. The judges booted him because he failed in his attempt to make a big hit in the next round. The assignment was to “wow” the crowd. He failed miserably in that attempt. His hubris did him in because he attempted to produce more than his ability allowed. In effect, he promised more than he could deliver. It’s nice to know I’m not the only one on this blog that watches the show!

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