A Mother’s Love (Issue 698)

In which we are reminded that complaints or expressions of interest are not sufficient foundations to pitch.

Enjoying a brief break, I overhead a mother nearby talking to her son. She asked him how he was doing.

He said, “I’m thinking I might leave this job and find another. I don’t think my purpose on earth is what I’m doing now.”

His mother responded with great enthusiasm, “Great! Why don’t you call Mary Beth. She’s the woman you met with a few times (and largely ignored, I’m just saying…) during your senior year in college to talk about career options. She’s a very good resource, she might be able to help you think of some different avenues and broaden your horizons a bit. She has a big network. I’m sure she could help you, she was a great help to your sister and the Wade kids.”

He winced briefly, paused, then smiled his best ‘I’m trying to be a good son here’ smile and said, “Thanks, I’ll think about that.”

She stared at him, feeling the gentle brush off.

I was beside myself. I wanted to stand up and shout, “THAT HAPPENED BECAUSE YOU PITCHED TOO EARLY. HE HASN’T EXPRESSED A NEED! YOU GOT THAT OBJECTION, which you’re now unhappy about, because you think he should have been more grateful for the idea!”

I looked back at my keyboard, imagining that this now disappointed mother might have turned to me and said, “Hey, you’re a consultant. What should I have done?”

It’s good to have a rich inner life, you know?

Had she asked ….. I might have said: “When he said, ‘I’m thinking I might leave this job….’, you might have said, “Interesting!” and asked, ‘How will you go about that?’

And then, after listening to his answer, perhaps asked a question like, ‘How will you know whether your current networks and resources are giving you a broad enough look at your options?’ He has to look at current resources first.

If, at that point, he said, “I think I’m good,” there’s no play. Hold your ideas.

If, at that point, he instead said, “ I don’t know, I guess based on whether I like the options I’m seeing,” the play is something like, ‘Do you think you’d like to consider some additional resources now or wait until you’ve worked through your current resources?”

If, at THAT point, he said, “Consider some additional resources now,” the play is, “Would you like an idea? I have in mind someone who might be helpful.”

THEN…. pitch Mary Beth… and there will be no objection.

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