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Show Up

06/10/2013 04:31 EDT | Updated 08/10/2013 05:12 EDT

As we approach the one-year anniversary of launching our business, there are a lot of people I'd like to thank such as my family, business partner, advisory board, friends, strategic partners, advocates and foundational clients.

It was just over a year ago where I amicably parted ways with my previous business partners and ventured out on my own. Once the paperwork was signed, sealed and delivered, I had to see my clients (not under non-solicit covenants) and, after careful consideration and good counsel, I realized I owed it to my clients to deliver the news in person.

I'd like to tell you I wasn't concerned and knew everything would be fine. I'd like to tell you I was confident and had no fear. I'd like to tell you as I was finally doing something I was very passionate about and was positive the business was there. I'd like to tell you all those things but the truth is I was scared out of my mind.

What would my clients say and how would they react? Would they laugh me out of their offices and have security escort me to the door?

However, I was no longer working for the business I co-founded and wasn't travelling on client business so I couldn't just board a plane and expense it. What I could afford at that time was to take the train on my own dime. So at 5:30 a.m. it was "all aboard" to go see my biggest client.

While looking out the train window, I ran through potential scenarios in my head. What questions would I be asked? How would this meeting set the tone for my other client meetings that awaited? What I would tell my incredible wife and beautiful kids when I got back home that night? It was the longest journey of my life. And this comes from someone who put himself through school as a flight attendant working around the globe.

I walked into my client's office and he had a big smile on his face. He offered me a drink and graciously asked how things were going as he always did curious why I was suddenly in town to meet. I said I was no longer an officer, shareholder or employee of the firm I helped co-found. I said I had amicably parted ways with my business partners and wished them the best of luck.

The smile on his face was slightly diminished as he was naturally a little surprised. I told him he was a great client and if we no longer worked together I totally understood. In which case I wanted to personally meet him and thank him for his business.

I paused and waited for him to say "Nice working with you. Best of luck."

He didn't.

He looked at me straight in the eyes and asked what I planned to do next.

I replied I was launching my own firm the next day and would continue to teach senior executives about digital and social media as I had done over the past year and building a little practice in the process.

I then assembled all my courage to confidently say: "If you thought I delivered for you before, just wait and see what I'll do next."

I paused and waited for him to say "Nice working with you. Best of luck."

He didn't.

He said that if everything was fine with legal and finance, he had no problem to continue working with me.

Entrepreneurs often talk about that "moment of truth" where things come together beautifully or disintegrate horribly. That was my "moment of truth" and I'll never forget it.

People sometimes ask me what do I think contributed to this outcome? Especially when this executive works in a regulated industry. Perhaps a mix of luck, divine intervention, honesty, hard work and a fierce desire to drive results for clients. Most importantly, incredible clients who like you, believe in you and recognize the value you deliver. The kind of clients who want to cheer for you. The kind of clients who are very special and make you determined to fight for those extra inches.

A few weeks later a dear family friend (who knew me since I wore diapers) and a successful executive in his own right shared something powerful, "Whether you're an start-up entrepreneur, Fortune 500 Company employee, veteran CEO or summer intern at their first gig, it all comes down to one thing...it's all about showing up."

Even when you don't know how things will turn out. Even when you know you are going to the gates of hell. Even when a client is ready to tear that final strip off you. Even when you have nothing left in the tank to give and are asked for more.

It's all about showing up.

I don't know what the future will bring after Year 1 but may I humbly share one small piece of advice based on my experience? (And I'll also ask you to remind me of same when I experience the inevitable highs and lows that come with life.)

It's all about showing up.

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