Get results with groveling

   One of the great misconceptions people have about the concept of owning your own business is the dream of "being your own boss."
   There is an inference of independence, of answering to no one. You are the top dog, and those years of sniveling obedience to higher-ups are finally behind you. No one can tell you what to do. Let others do the groveling.
   Nice dream.
   In business, we all have someone who requires continual pampering because their allegiance is essential to our success. For some itís a major client who could pull their account on a whim, sending profits tumbling. For others it could be an investor, or a key employee they canít afford to lose.
   For me, itís landlords. Find me a landlord with a top retail location, and Iíll show you some major league groveling.
   In fact, I performed some impressive groveling just last week. The present landlords of the prime retail location my main store occupies selfishly sold the building out from under me. All those years of pampering, down the drain. They just took the $11.2 million sale price and ran, leaving nothing for me except the remains of my lease.
   Meanwhile, the new landlord was coming to visit. No time for self pity, there was groveling to be done.
   "Well, Mr. Chin, its such a pleasure to meet you," I said with a wide grin as my new landlord, the master of my inconsequential life, entered my office (which I was humbly renting from him).
   "Iím very happy here," I continued. "Itís a wonderful building, great investment. I wish I had the money to invest in such a fine piece of property. I hope you like what weíve done in the retail portion. Itís been a lot of work, but weíre counting on staying here for a long time."
   Iím not stupid. I know when to stop babbling. It was time to get a rapport going.  
   One problem, though, which I quickly learned. Mr. Chin was from Hong Kong. He didnít understand babble.
   The rapport was not going to happen. There was a translator available, Mr. Chinís local agent, but how was he going to translate my charm, grace and willingness to grovel?"
   This was going to be a challenge.
   I made a rapid decision. Short sentences, lots of smiles and constant nodding with short bows was the way to go.
   "Good building," I said, smiling, nodding and bowing all at once.
   "Yes," said Mr. Chin, "very good." When he smiled, nodded and bowed, I knew I was on the right track.
   "Very happy here," I continued. Smile. Nod. Bow.
   "Good," said Mr. Chin.
   "I want to stay forever." Smile. Nod. Bow.
   Too complicated. Mr. Chin looked at his translator, puzzled. His translator spoke to him in Chinese and Mr. Chin now understood what I said. He threw back his head and laughed heartily.
   Whatís so funny? I thought, as I laughed along with him.
    It didnít matter. We were bonding. It looked like humor was going to be appreciated.
   "$11.2 million," I noted. "You have lots of money. Will you be reducing rent?"
   After the translation, we had a good laugh over that one. For some reason he thought that was hilarious.
   After a few more chuckles, we were bosom buddies. He opened up, and in halting English and with the help of the translator told me about his factory in China, where he makes millions manufacturing fish toys for aquariums.
   I listened like I never listened before. Everything he said was fascinating. Some of it I even understood.
   Of course, if he had told me he had made his fortune kidnapping babies and selling them into slavery, I would have told I admired his courage and initiative.
   The fact of the matter is Mr. Chin, by controlling the building that generates a good portion of my income, is a good man to have on my side. Fortunately, I happened to like him and we got along well. If I hadn't liked him, we still would have gotten along well.
   Thatís the way it works. We can all be fired, one way or another. For me, itís locations and leases. Iím at their mercy. Only Mr. Chin can save me.
   Thatís why I grovel. And thatís why I suggested to Mr. Chin that he adopt me. So what if he laughed. Iíll keeping working on him.

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