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Monday, November 19, 2007

you gotta know when to fold 'em

Oh Kenny Rogers, you're a modern day oracle. Sometimes you really do need to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em, know when to walk away, and know when to run.

Nobody panic, the company isn't folding. But there have been a couple of experiences over the past few days that reminded me that every opportunity shouldn't be taken, every path doesn't need to be walked. I'll share one of them, the other one I'll keep to myself. Oddly enough, I'm going to share the personal experience and not the business one.

Last night, I was talking on the instant messenger to a guy I'd just met. The conversation had just gotten started, literally, we were about four exchanges in.

Him: "Hi, this is ****"

Him: "how are you?"

Me: "pretty good, and you?"

Him: "pretty good"

Him: "so are you cynical about men, too?"

Me: "what?"

Him: "it's a question..."

HIm: "ARE"

Him: "YOU"

Me: "yeah, I'm familiar with questions, but why would you ask if I was cynical about men, too? That implies that I've already admitted to being cynical about something, which I haven't, because I'm not"

Him: "are you always so uptight?"

Him: "because you seem pretty uptight right now"

Me: "no"

Him: "WELL?"

Me: "well, what?"

Him: "are you going to answer my question? Have I caught you at a bad time? Maybe you'd be in a better mood later"
(after a brief pause, where I considered my options and answered the phone - it was somebody I'd much rather spend time talking to)

Me: "I think we're done here."

Me: "Goodnight."

Really. What was that? Was he trying some of that Mystery, pick up artist bull? (not familiar? let me enlighten you...) Was he that pathetically clueless about how to have a conversation?

I don't know, because I didn't stick around to find out. Sure, maybe I'm missing out on an opportunity to make a new friend, but if that's his first impression, can you imagine what's to come? Forgive me for wanting to miss out on hours of being corrected and having flaws magnified.

It's a lesson I'm learning in business as well as in personal relationships - not every opportunity is going to be helpful. It may seem obvious when it's written down, but I can assure you, in practice, it's not so easy. When your biggest dream is to have a healthy, growing business with a broad client base, the lines between colossal time wasters and genuine helpers gets a little blurry. The only thing I know that works is just as clichéd as you think - trust your instincts.

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