Dave was one of the most successful managing partners of a professional firm that I have known. When he first took the job, the firm was in desperate shape, losing both money and talent. He turned it into a highly profitable firm with a reputation for having one of the best cultures in its profession. When he retired, it was many times larger than when he had taken the top job and still growing.
And on top of this, he made it pour. Among the new business attributable to him was a steady flow of work from one account that ranked as one of the firm’s top three clients year after year. By the time he retired, he had been working the account for almost thirty years and had a close relationship with the man who was now chairman of the client company that went back almost as far.
They had met early in both their careers when Dave was given responsibility for handling a matter at the client company. The person in charge of the client team was a young, high-potential manager assigned to the task as a way to give him experience rapidly. The man impressed Dave by his competence and ambition. Dave decided to stay in touch with him after the initial matter was settled.
I asked Dave how much time this took. Very little, he responded. Most years he was doing other work at this client and would have breakfast or lunch with him every six months. In the few years that he didn’t have work at the client, they would have a short phone conversation twice a year.
When the man became president and later CEO and chairman, their relationship went back over twenty years. The chance that a competitor would take this account away were slim. How different it would have been, if Dave had let the relationship go cold for fifteen years and then sought to rekindle it when the man became president!
How many rising stars do you know? Don’t lose sight of them for an instant!