I have a confession. After two weeks of this project, Saturday meetings are my favorite. This week had a bonus, 13 has always been a lucky number for me. Walking into Classic Coffee to meet Rob Knight confirmed everything I just said.
This introduction was facilitated by Mark Trigonoplos, Day 5, but I didn't know the full context until meeting Rob this morning. Mark had shown sent him the blog so he could take a look. Rob tells me the story of reading the blog and realizing that he and I have been down some of the same road, especially in sales.
"This guy stole my story...actually, more like great minds think alike." Rob chuckles as he says this, the laugh is infectious and I catch it.
We have a lot in common, not just surface level items, but we have some deep personal convictions, those details that form who we are, as a common basis for getting to know one another. We have blue collar labor in our coming up. The kind of work that gives you a sense of pride in a job well done, a certain power in knowing what you can accomplish by pushing through. We value that work as people, in all aspects of life.
The arts have always been a part of our lives. Rob is a drummer, having been in bands since he was 9, save for a more recent absence from them. He loved writing all through high school, but found music was what he really loved to write. Inspired by the rock he grew up on, but with his own personal twist. He has music stories, band stories, work stories and others. Rob is a storyteller.
Sitting there, drinking coffee while the rain pours down, the topic of my service comes up. Rob was in the Army for a year before he was hurt off duty. He thanks me for my service with a firm handshake and talks about the nobility of it. This has never been a topic of conversation I am 100% comfortable with, the thanks given for my service, but there is such a deep sincerity in Rob's words I find that I am not uncomfortable at all. He truly means this. Rob is incredibly authentic.
We both hated our first networking event. Rob and I have a common sales background, though in different industries. Those large events, 150 people plus, with the collage of business cards gathered and no real idea who you were speaking to, getting cut off by your competitor and brushed to the side, that's our shared memory. Rob had a revelation during those moments. He knew he needed to go to these events, but he still didn't like them. So he made a resolution after observing all of his competitors running from person to person firing off the same pitch. He would make one friend in the room, just one. It didn't matter if they were with a competitor or not, he would begin a relationship with that person. It worked.
Not immediately. Relationships are an investment. It takes time to be invited to sit at someone's table and earn their trust, but it does happen. Rob went on to be very successful with this philosophy of making friends and his use of humor to change up the same dry pitch that everyone was hearing. Rob tells me the way he was in sales is the same way he is having coffee, he's authentic.
If I were forced to use one word to describe Rob, that would be it. Being in his company is fun, the stories flow and he is not always the hero. We have both screwed up, both learned lessons, and we share those as openly as anything. Connections like this are not incredibly common because we often like to keep our curtain closed and project our perfection, those polished pitches we all have, but they are wonderful when they do. Rob and I have done the same types of things in response to the same situations, we think alike. Great minds even down to our haircuts.
Sometimes time flies and other times it slows down so you can get everything from the moment. We fit about a month's worth of talk into an hour and a half. It is genuinely sad when it ends, but Rob passes me his business card and we talk about how we should get together and grab a beer. That's definitely going to happen. Just like Rob, I am a big fan of beer.
Favorite Dinosaur: Pterodactyl
Why: I'm a huge fan of Pee Wee Herman