You’re Always Marketing So Keep It Classy

A few years ago, GGG was engaged in the restructuring of a multi-billion dollar company that had relationships with numerous and varied businesses and firms throughout the country. While focused on the client’s interest, I took this opportunity to make some excellent connections and solidify existing ones with professionals in a multitude of industries – even though we were most often on opposite sides of the table. I worked with many bankruptcy attorneys, private equity professionals and business leaders, developing excellent working relationships towards the restructuring of this company.

It’s important to recognize current business as opportunities for new business. Not only does this prepare you for the future but it motivates you to work harder on the current case.

Regardless of your profession or industry, look at each meeting, conference and project as a marketing opportunity. After all, you are good at what you do, and you want others to know this.

It’s not often in my profession that I get new business from existing or past clients because of the nature of the turnaround industry. However, more than half my future business comes from those with whom I’ve worked during a case, whose interests at the time are not those of my client. That is, many times I am hired for future situations by those who sat on the other side of the negotiations table. Even though we were on opposite sides of the situation, those who ultimately hire me one day appreciated the professionalism with which I carried myself, the thought process I used to resolve the case and the outcome I achieved for my side.

Subsequent to the case at hand, they have other clients who they want me to represent. Next time they see me in the courtroom or at the negotiations table, they want me to sit on their side. That is why I always stay fair to the other side in a business case and communicate clearly. Make it your duty to do the same. People appreciate knowledge, professional conduct and sound business ethics, and they like solving problems quickly and efficiently.

Mutual respect is the goal for long-term marketing in business. Always be honest and forthcoming – you don’t have to be the nice guy in a tough business deal, but having professional respect for your negotiating partners and gaining their respect is the recipe for growing your referral sources.

Some of my long term, twenty-year referral sources come from these situations in which I gave oppositional professionals’ clients a hair cut, but who later wanted to work with me.

Remember, you’re always marketing.

What are your primary sources of referrals? How do you cultivate those?

What Cheerleaders Can Teach Us about Big Business


Last night I did a radio interview (that I’ll post when the podcast becomes available), and I was asked a question that I thought I’d share my answer to with you here.

I was asked about my guiding principle – one that helps me lead my firm and other companies that hire me as their CEO.

My Guiding Principle: Be Proactive, Not Reactive.

I live by this motto, give speeches about it, and I’ve mentioned it here before.

All businesses have problems. Nothing goes as you expect it to. But if you’re proactive in your leadership, decision making and planning then you’ll have the tools, people, and ideas in place to handle much of what comes at you.

On the contrary, if you’re constantly reacting to everything, you’ll never get your feet underneath you long enough to resolve your problems.

I’ve also found that honest communication goes a long way. People try to lead secretly, and that doesn’t work. Yes, leaders run businesses, not committees, but if leaders are honest with those involved, especially key stakeholders like boards, banks and creditors, there is a much greater chance for success.

Ra Ra Ra!!!

My initial turnaround success was a Chapter 11 restructuring at a company called Cheerleader Supply, a $50+ Million revenue business with over 1000 employees. As their name suggests, they made cheerleading uniforms, pompoms, etc., and they sent kids to summer camp to learn how to become cheerleaders.

It was the spirit of Cheerleader Supply that helped get it through Chapter 11 restructuring, and I learned a serious lesson about attitude from them.

Think about football games. When your team is down, the cheerleaders cheer harder – they don’t get dejected. Seeing that attitude – embodied by everyone at Cheerleading Supply – inspired me and allowed me to be the best catalyst for big change that I could be and ultimately brought that company through Chapter 11.

I’ve applied that attitude to everything going forward. To this day I still have a pompom in my office reminding me of this original successful turnaround and the importance of cheering harder and having the right attitude even when things seem their darkest.

What You Can Do

I encourage you to go forward with this attitude, which goes hand and hand with being proactive instead of reactive.

The proactive leader is cheering constantly for his company by saying that nothing is going to stop it from being successful – especially not his own complacency when it seems like he’s up by four touchdowns and can just coast (are we good with the football metaphors?).

Learn from the cheerleaders and be a proactive leader.

What’s your guiding principle? How do you think these notions can help you in your life and business?