Real stories from fellow Platoon Members… Names changed to protect the innocent!

Did you ever find yourself in a having a great celebration and in less than 5 seconds it turned into your worst nightmare?

We had just signed a $400,000 contract with a new client after weeks of negotiations and a 9 month sales cycle. The lead person representing the new client was a wonderful woman who was just a little on the portly side. I suggested to her that her team and our team have a celebratory dinner at one of the finer restaurants in Pittsburgh, home of our company. There were 9 of us total. Our waiter wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer and made several mistakes with our orders throughout the night, dessert being the biggest. We had all order soufflés, a house specialty, but they had to be ordered at the time we ordered our meal due to the time to prepare. Well, when it comes time for dessert here came our waiter with the dessert cart. I reminded him that we all ordered soufflés and he looked at me with a blank stare! Not one to sweat the small stuff, we shrugged it off and allowed him to describe the decadent options on the cart. New York style cheesecake, tiramisu, crème Brule, chocolate mousse parfait and on and on. We placed our orders and minutes later out it all comes. He looks at our new portly client, looks at his tray and proceeds to say to her, “You must be the moose!” Without a second of hesitation he reaches on his tray and places the chocolate mousse parfait in front of her. My partners and I, 4 total, jaws dropped to the table and we sat there motionless and speechless waiting for her reaction. She never reacted although the 4 of us were mortified. Needless to say that restaurant came off our list for life!

1st stop on a 20-day national tour demoing a new system and IT DOESN’T WORK!!!

Way back in the early 90’s before Microsoft Windows, the internet and laptops, PC software was written in DOS. We had just spent almost 2 years developing a DOS based enterprise system and as VP of Sales, I was anxious to get out there and show the world what we had done. I scheduled a driving tour of 15 meetings coast to coast in 20 days, which equated to over 7800 driving miles and I was doing it solo! My first stop was in Detroit Michigan to meet with the CEO, COO and CFO of a fairly large health insurance company. After lugging over 100 pounds of equipment, desktop PC, 21” monitor and peripherals up to their offices on the second floor (no elevator by the way) and setting everything up, I began. We had already spent a considerable amount of time on the phone so I had the info I needed to present our solution in their terms. After a 15 minute pre-demo discussion IT IS SHOWTIME!!! I started typing on the keyboard and nothing and I mean nothing is happening. When in doubt reboot, still nothing. When in double doubt, tap dance, still nothing! I apologized and threw myself at their mercy, promising to make this disaster up to them. Pack everything up, lug it back down the steps to the car and drive to the closest pay phone to kill my development team. I had practiced the demo a hundred times back in our lab and had knew the system like the back of my hand…WHAT DID THEY SCREW UP? I got our system architect on the phone and started to let her have it….both barrels. After listening to my rant for several minutes she calmly asked, “Did you have the Caps Lock key on?” My mouth immediately shut, I thanked her for her time and drove 300 miles to get ready for day 2 demo in Indianapolis. The other 14 meetings went off without a hitch. Although by the time I rode back into corporate headquarters I didn’t want to sit in a car again for as long as I would live! As a side note, that company in Detroit did become a client, it only took 5 years after that disastrous day to make it happen!

Always make sure your gear is furniture friendly!

We finally had the 800lb gorilla in our sights. An presentation to the “C” level executive of Arby’s International in Atlanta Georgia. We designed, manufactured and installed computer based energy management systems for the hospitality industry. This meeting had the potential for 2000 systems, which translated into over $40,000,000.00 for my company! My team and I enter the boardroom early to set up our system which included the actual computer components housed in an industrial wall mount steel enclosure with all the cool light and gages on the front. We set it up on top of the boardroom table which is made from exotic wood from some desolate corner of the world. The presentation begins and the executives are very engaged. Our lead engineer decides that they would be very impressed by the components inside the box. He proceeds to stand up open the box and swing the door open. Since it was a wall mounted panel there were no rubber bumpers on the bottom of the steel panel. The steel door creates a ¼” deep semi-circle gouge in the table that seemed more like a mile deep! We continued with our presentation but you could feel the temperature in the room plunged by at least 1,000 degrees in that split second! After we wrapped up, I apologized to the CEO and promised to have the table repaired. We did and made sure from that day on that all demo equipment was furniture friendly!