This was not a small deal I was working on, mind you. No, it was a $30 million deal with a very attractive return. Thirty mil may seem like peanuts to some of you hot shot corporate muckety-mucks, but for me this was significant. I had poured my heart and soul into this project over the past couple of years, shepherding and coddling and feeding it delicious appetizers, and basically navigating it to the point where I thought we were reasonably agreed upon all the terms and conditions.
Up until now I had been dealing with their guys on the ground in our region. My main contact’s name was Dave and we had developed a pretty good camaraderie. But as we approached the finish line, a strange, faceless beast from a land far away mysteriously emerged on the other side of the table that went by the name of “Corporate.” This “Corporate” couldn’t actually speak with us in person, but Dave and its other representatives notified me that there was suddenly an urgent concern with several issues relating to zoning variances and credit markets and capital rationalization – things that I thought had been resolved months ago. Then out of nowhere a host of lawyers and bankers descended on the deal, seemingly appearing from every corner of the earth. Now, lawyers and bankers can generally be quite useful for helping us achieve our corporate goals while using other people’s money, but in this case they were just making things far more complicated than I thought was reasonably necessary. Things were getting out of hand. I started hearing whispers of threats that Corporate was now getting indigestion and had serious concerns about the changing market conditions. They were considering pulling the plug on my precious deal. Next thing I knew, Dave told me that Corporate scheduled a Board meeting to review their pipeline of deals and pick and choose which ones would make it and which ones would get axed. Ours was on the list.
The next few days I fretted anxiously, trying to push things along, but knowing full well that I had no control of the outcome. Being the exemplary leader that I am, however, I faked out everyone around me. I pretended, with brash confidence, that I was in complete control. I assured all those involved on my side that we would come up clean, that the deal was inevitable and that soon we would stand victorious. But inside I was getting eaten up with worry and doubt. For two weeks, I ruminated and wondered and played out all the worst-case scenarios in my head. The most horrifying scene was of me standing before the Board, sweating profusely as I try to explain the implosion of the deal and the significant write-off of the sunk costs. The Board glares at me silently, dumbfounded. “See?” The old crotchety one finally speaks up. “I told you he didn’t know what he was doing!” They all shake their heads in disappointment, and point me ominously towards the door.
I couldn’t change the channel. It kept playing over and over and over in my head.