Sunday, June 06, 2010

How To Be A Good Friend

A month ago I was called upon to facilitate a firm-wide lawyer retreat focused on business development for a great law firm in the Southwest. I have worked with this client before, and I am very impressed with the efforts of this group of attorneys to raise their image and brand in their community. They already have a wonderful reputation, but are also aware that "Law" is a business. They are working to ensure they make their business development, marketing, networking, branding, advertising, PR, sales, and social media a priority. I wanted to work more with this client!

The problem was the date of their meeting was over a four day trip that my wife was taking with my oldest daughter. This left me needing to find someone to take care of my 8-year-old. We do not have grandparents nearby, and there was no easy option that was comfortable for everyone involved (including me).

I asked a life-long friend from Los Angeles, Tim Homan, if he would consider flying to Tucson to spend two days with us. He could take Kate to the movies and swimming pool during my Friday and Saturday meetings at the law firm. He did not even hesitate. He has a flexible work schedule, and immediately agreed to step into help me. My need was to make sure that I would not be distracted by anything (or worried about Kate), as it takes a lot of effort and energy to prepare and facilitate a successful workshop.

I had not seen Tim in over two years, so it was also a chance for us to catch up. I purchased a airline ticket for him and we all arrived at in Tucson at the same time. We ate lunch and then I spent a few hours with my client. While I was with the lawyers, he took Kate to a movie. Later that night we all went to dinner (Mi Nindito is one of the best Mexican Restaurants in the country!! It was worth the hour and ten minute wait!). After Kate went to sleep we talked for several hours. The next day I facilitated the workshop while they went swimming. Finally we all had lunch and then drove back to the airport. Tim was home in L.A. by dinnertime on Saturday. Kate an I were home in Austin by 9 PM.

It was a short business trip, and a good time for everyone involved. Kate thought he was the most fun "Manny" (male nanny) in the whole world. Also, Kate and I had an adventure traveling together and ate dinner at TGI Fridays in the Dallas Airport, .... where I even let her have a hot fudge sundae (cuz I am a push over when that kid gives me that "cow eyes" look!).

This whole experience got me thinking a lot about "friendship". I have known Tim since 7th grade and we attended the same college. I cannot remember a time when we were not friends. We have always helped each other out in the "rough times" and have been present for the "good times". Whenever I have needed someone's help and he has never hesitated.

I took this experience to have a long talk with my daughter about the whole idea of "friendship". We talked "How To Be A Good Friend", and although she is only eight, she was very interested in the idea of having friendships that last over 30 years. I never know if any of my impromptu life lessons sink in with my kids, but this one seemed to make an impression. I pointed out that Tim has his own daughter, and I was sure he would have rather been in Southern California than in a movie theater with Kate in Arizona.... but that real friends are there to help each other.

The woman sitting next to Kate and I on the flight home heard our conversation and added "WOW, it is not every 43 year old guy that would give up his Friday and Saturday, and hop a plane, to baby-sit some kid for a couple of hours and then fly home! - That is the definition of a friend!". She is right.

I am fortunate, as I have several friends in my life who naturally step up help each other. I hope I am one of friends to them in return. I think I am, but I am motivated to work even harder in this area. It just takes noticing what others really need and then finding ways to be the catalyst that helps them succeed.

How about you? Are you the type of friend who comes through in those weird and rare occasions when they really just need someone... even if it is an inconvenience?

Have A Great Day.



Anonymous said...

Your post hit me in the gut. I know I would not give a day to watch some friend's kid.

Unknown said...

he was amazing!! indeed a great friend that last for a life time~

Rob said...

Thom, you've said that people do business with those they know and like. Be careful how liked you are; demand is infinite.

Why does someone have to do favors for us to consider them a friend?

I have one friend who comes to me for relationship advice, a friend I would've never made if Thom Singer hadn't set me straight on some things, a friend who's never done anything for me except give me good practice being a parent. It makes my life richer just knowing he's doing better. I don't need the grass mowed and the car washed.

It doesn't matter that your child had a good time. You or your wife just need to commit to being there for the family 24 hours a day. I want to see you unquestionably incur the opportunity cost of losing career productivity for family time. I want to see you send the message that family trumps money.