Chris Markiewicz's Blog
Every Monday – thoughts, observations and ideas that hold up a mirror to who & how we are

Richard & Marina

As I head towards my 25th anniversary as a freelance trainer, my mind finds itself going back to my early days in the business and my first major client – a large regional newspaper group on the south coast.

I’d made contact through a mailshot and follow up call, and was invited in to meet with the HR Director, an ex submarine officer called Richard. Arriving in the reception area of the large, imposing period building in Southampton, I was asked to wait to be collected. About 10 minutes later, a young girl came to fetch me. She introduced herself as Marina, Richard’s HR assistant. As we negotiated the corridors and stairs to reach his office we chatted. I enquired about her and her role, how long she’d been working there and other bits and bobs.

We eventually reached Richard’s offce and he and I got down to discussing business. The meeting went very well, so much so that for the next three years or so, I ran regular sales and customer care courses for the company. It was, to put it bluntly, a nice little earner!

It must have been at least 18 months after that first meeting that Richard confided in me about his decision process when choosing trainers. I had been expecting him to quote criteria such as experience and industry background (I’d been in publishing). These were indeed relevant, however his main criterion blew me away:

“ I ask Marina to report back to me how the trainer was with her on that long walk from reception to my office. If her impression is positive, I am likely to go with that and vice versa”.

He went on to explain that he wasn’t the only one who needed to be impressed and that Marina and her colleagues were the real clients, the likes of whom I would need to have capacity to engage with on course after course.

Based on that early experience, I remind myself every time I go into an organisation for a client meeting or to run a course, that EVERYONE is important and may have influence we are utterly unaware of. You never know if the receptionist is the CEO’s daughter!

Apart from which, its just bloody good form to be pleasant and respectful to everyone, however “humble” their role. I’d like to think that approach has stood me in good stead these 25 years.

2 Responses to “Richard & Marina”

  1. Great message in here Chris; the thought that everyone is important never escapes me either.
    Here’s to the next 25.

  2. Very true Chris although if they had asked the receptionists how we were on our meetings many years ago they would probably have likened us to Eric and Ernie! Take care, Greg

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