19. The advantages of meeting face-to-face
My father was a self-made businessman and was truly wise. Born in LA during the Great Depression, with immigrant parents and little education, he began with nothing – but by the age of fifty he had built up a successful business with over sixty employees. His approach was simple: work hard, show up on time and always meet your clients and employees face-to-face.
My father taught me everything I know about business and I owe much of my success to him, but this one simple piece of advice has lasted me a lifetime and I am constantly amazed by the benefits.
There is something about sitting across a table from someone or meeting up for a coffee – or even the connection that takes place during the few moments of that first handshake. This is the time when someone will decide whether they like you or not, trust you or not, and most importantly, whether they'll want to work with you or not.
This is not to say that these things will ever take the place of your actual work and what you bring to the table. Ultimately, your skills and talent will have to stand on their own – but meeting face-to-face will go a long way to benefiting your career and that is a promise.
Meeting face-to-face says a lot about the kind of person you are. It shows confidence. It shows respect. It shows that you are willing to make the effort. It also shows that you are a 'people person' and the truth is, this business is about people.
In the early stages of my career, I took a Disney VP out to lunch when I had nothing. He pulled out his gold company credit card, but I insisted that he was my guest. When I had my first series commission and the BBC was concerned that their needs for the show were being overshadowed by another channel, I went right in to meet them face-to-face, to hear their concerns and to let them know I was committed to making sure they were addressed.
And just last week, I flew to Oslo in Norway in order to meet with a lawyer regarding a new series I just created. I could have set up a call. I could have set up a FaceTime chat or easily communicated via e-mail. But thanks to my wise father, something told me to hop on that plane....
And as a result, I ended up having six meetings with some of the top international television companies – and am now in the process of negotiating a deal!
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