“Uh, oh,” I said to myself, as anxiety drifted toward panic. I had a business decision to make, and it had to be made now. I needed advice; the question was, from whom? With lightning speed, I cross-referenced the issue at hand with folks I knew who could help and might be willing to do so on such short notice.
“Evan,” I thought, “he’s perfect.”
Evan Steele, CEO of SRSsoft, founded the business in 1997, building it from the ground up. He’s got a lightning-fast mind for numbers and knows business issues inside and out. Of course, there was the added benefit that we’d become friends, having dinner with our wives multiple times. And to make matters even more perfect, his offices are down the street from mine —literally about a mile away.
“Evan,” I emailed, “Do you have time for lunch today? I need some advice.”
Send-receive (wait a minute or two), send-receive (wait a minute or two), send-receive (wait a minute or two) …
After what seemed like an eternity but was, in reality, about half an hour, I received the response: “Sure. What time?”
“Yes!” I exclaimed, knowing that this meeting was critical.
On the way to the restaurant, I learned that Evan was in the middle of something significant at work, but you wouldn’t have known it by the way he acted. First off, he said “yes” instead of, “Sorry, I can’t today. How about tomorrow?” He spent about an hour and half with me as I laid out the issue and struggled to understand some of the concepts he was explaining. He never once made me feel rushed or that I should start winding our meeting down. By the time I got up, a weight had been lifted —I’d been educated.
I know what I know, and probably feel that I know a bit more than I actually do, but about some things, I know that I know very little. I can distinctly recall being in grade school and counting on my fingers to do simple math — I just do not have a mind for numbers or an interest in conquering any field in which they are the local currency. (This is not to be confused with admiration, which I certainly have for those who excel in mathematics or physics). But I also know we cannot let such deficiencies stifle us; the key lies in having no qualms revealing them to the world, and asking for help.
In addition to what I learned from Evan about business, he taught me a lot about being a good friend. You see, it’s not about lending a hand when it’s convenient for you, but being available when the supplicant is faced with their action moment (the whole “friend in need” thing). For my part, I’m going to do a better job of picking up on the plaintive sounds of real need in the voices of those who approach me, because just as justice delayed is essentially denied, so is critical assistance.