A banker was put in a difficult position with two partners who were fighting. The only thing he could do was call in their loans, because their business was making no money.
“I don’t know if you can do anything about this,” he told me, “but I recommended that they talk to you.”
“Am I to call them or are they going to call me?”
“I told them to call you. So let’s give it a couple of days and see if they do.”
One of them, Terry, did, so I said, “You know, Terry, I can’t help you unless your partner agrees.”
After Scott, his partner, called, I sat down and had a long chat – one-on-one – with each of them.
It became clear to me that they were not compatible.
Terry and Scott had married sisters. These brothers-in-law were as different as black is from white. And the sisters didn’t share philosophies either, whether it was about life or about business.
Needless to say, the brothers-in-law didn’t get along. They started this little business. They wound up with three stores. The stores were just making a half million bucks profit a year before they started fighting.
So I said to Terry, “What would you do if I could wave a magic wand and put half a million bucks in your pocket?”
“Oh, man,” he replied, “I want to be a musician. You know, I’m a good singer and I play the guitar and I’d build a studio in my basement and …”
I asked Scott, “Hey, what would you do with that money?” “I would start another business and compete with my brother-in-law.”
So it was obvious who was going to buy whom. Scott borrowed enough money from the bank to buy out Terry. Terry took the money and built a recording studio.
Terry never did make it big time in the music business.
He wasn’t a great singer, but that’s part of life. Now he’s out working for somebody else, but he’s happy. He received enough money to pay off his house and set himself up for life. He doesn’t have to work too hard. And he did have his fling with his band.
The key to this interaction was nothing more brilliant than getting these men to ask the “when you’re grown up” question.