We've all met those people with whom we almost immediately "click". For me, John Woods aka Jake was one of those people. 20 years later I still find by bouncing my ideas of Jake and vice versa, there is almost always a better result.
This is part one of how Moots & Jake came to be a creative partnership:
HOW IT BEGAN - I remember sitting in my office on the top floor of one of the coolest office buildings in the flourishing Greenwood Village office complex just south of Denver, back in the day when I put on a suit and tie every day and had insanely large quotas hanging over my head every day, every night, every week, every month, every year, with the kind of bosses' boss who’s philosophy of management was “Don’t tell me how you did last month, tell me how you’re doing this month!”
I was contemplating how I was going to get the owner (Jake) of a company who was using quota-killing-amounts of telecommunications to switch from a reseller to the great MCI. The issue was always cost with this guy and I couldn't get our lawyers to budge on contract provisions that would allow me to compete at the reseller level.
Imagine that, an owner of a company concerned with the cost of one of his largest line items. What was wrong with Jake? I had access to sky boxes, every baseball, basketball and football game our professional Denver squads played.
Wasn’t my dashing personality, ongoing stories, unlimited expense account and sense of humor enough?
After all, I had already taken him to some of Denver’s finest restaurants and used all of my charms to win him over and still, he remained concerned about money????
Shocked at how reluctant he was to spend more $ with me for his services, I pursued. I relented.
MCI always did everything on a very large scale. I was winning refrigerators, tropical vacations, stereo systems and other prizes that my wife and I picked from glossy catalogs designed to make sales people sell. And there was no better way to motivate a person like me.
One weekend, in the midst of a HUGE nationwide sales contest with big prizes and bragging rights at stake it was obvious to all of my bosses that Jake’s company was a large target to win because of the way they used telecommunications. I was feeling the pressure to pressure. The prizes I could win included a two-week all expenses paid European trip, Cruises and BIG shopping sprees at many retailers. I won a Kawasaki Jet Ski at the Masters event held at the Ritz in an exotic Florida locale. That was after being part of a group of about 200 at a quota club that MCI closed Universal Studios for an evening for. I literally got to ride the Back to the Future ride twenty times in a row. THOSE WERE THE DAYS! Pre-dot.com, pre economic bust!
As the contest was really heating up, I got a phone call at home too early on a Saturday morning from my Vice President. He said, and I quote, I am not making this up, “You have to figure out how to get John Woods to move his services to us! I could win a helicopter!!”
I scratched my head at how him winning a helicopter affected my life as I sat there in a World Wide Wrestling match with my two little boys in their jammies. He went on to say, “You know Drew (my direct boss) is up to win a Mercedes and you could push his numbers over the top.”
I scratched my head at how Drew winning a Mercedes affected my life.
Drew was my boss and I liked him. Because Drew didn’t call me at home on a Saturday morning to plead for his Mercedes, Drew had class. He played with his children on Saturday mornings because he valued family time and the weekend. My VP, NOT SO MUCH!
I hung up and over the course of the weekend made a plan to somehow win Jake over.
I called Jake. I pleaded with Jake! I begged Jake! Jake dug his heels in, but asked me to send him a proposal.
I did so.
Within a short amount of time Jake sent his questions and comments, but surrounding his narrative he had drawn a comic book panel of commentary about my sales techniques (It involved a smarmy Camaro and what I believe was supposed to be a "Lady of the evening." I got a good laugh out of it. However what really struck me was the pure, raw talent he put into his drawing. It was a direct jab at me, but one done with so much cleverness it made me laugh. He had drawn cartoony characters and I realized he had done it within just a few minutes.
Sitting on my desk at home was a manuscript I was working on for a children’s picture book I envisioned someone that talented drawing pictures for. I had titled my manuscript – Ol’ Lady Grizelda. It was that Monday morning when I looked at the characters John had drawn my internal priorities shifted. Suddenly my fervent desire to be published became my focus. I called John and asked him to go to lunch. This time it was with the express intent to talk to him about drawing pictures for a children's picture book, not to try to get him to switch telecommunications vendors.
LONG STORY SHORT – John never did a dollar of business with me in my Telecommunications career (too cheap), but our artistic relationship had begun. Suddenly when we started talking about storytelling I realized he and I had a lot in common and I started dreaming about having someone so talented interpret my words on pages within a book.
OH AND ONE OTHER BIT OF GREAT NEWS – My boss did win that Mercedes, however our VP didn’t win his helicopter (oh shoot).
To be continued…