I’m proud to report that I read a lot of magazines – covering a wide variety of topics and subjects. As a professional auctioneer I feel it’s important to keep up on the latest trends, not only in the auctioneering world, but on lifestyle, art, travel and wine, to name just a few.
However, it was a recent article I read in a business publication that really hit home. Well, “really hit home” may be putting it lightly. To be truthful, it was more like a punch to the stomach.
The focus of the story was about CEO’s and other high-level business executives who were hired by a failing, non-growing or unprofitable company – to turn it around – and put it back on the right financial path.
These individuals accepted the position and in the course of just a few years – not only hit the company’s goals – but far exceeded them. And, what was the reward for these business executives for doing such an incredible job within a very short period of time? Pink slips.
It seemed once the company was heading in the right direction, the owner or its board of directors, made the decision to hire someone else to lead – and at a lower salary now that the financial crisis was behind them.
And, within months or a few years of making that decision – where did the company end up? You guessed it. The best scenario was the company continued to move forward – but at a snail’s pace. The worst scenario – it went out of business.
That reminded me of a conversation I overheard years ago spoken by a “very experienced”, gray-bearded, old-time fishing guide captain at the marina not far from my home near Pine Island, Florida.
He said, “You know boys, if the Captain’s doing a great job in calm waters and in rough seas – if he knows exactly where the fish are and how to get them to bite – and if he keeps everyone entertained by his tall tales during the trip to and the trip back – then for gosh sakes – don’t go throw’n me a retirement party until I’m ready to retire.” (By the way, I’ve taking the liberty of deleting and diluting some of the Salty Sea Captain’s salty language.)
So, how does all this relate to me? Well, on occasion a charity or organization I’ve been working with for years – and not only achieved their fundraising goals but far exceeded them year after year – gives me a “pink slip” with the kind words, “You’ve done a marvelous job – have pointed us in the right direction – and have raised more money than we could have ever imagined – so we’ll take it from here.”
I won’t lie. That stings. I do feel letdown. However, even though I feel sorry for myself for a while, within a very short period of time I become more concerned for the charity itself. I want them to succeed because I know the need. But I also know that, without my experience in the Captain’s chair, rough waters lie ahead.
When I’m at the helm, I want every guest departing a fundraising event to feel as if they just experienced an 8-course meal of the finest and freshest cuisine – not an overcooked and stale hotdog from a vendor behind his umbrella-covered cart.
Ooops! I just might have merged the business article with one I read in Bon Appetit.
The old saying of “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”! I find this applies to almost everything from boat engines to fundraising auctions.
When you have questions regarding “maintenance” to your fundraising auction please do not hesitate to contact me. www.thevoe.com
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