Can you place a dollar amount on the value of the L.E.T. skills? Over the course of my career I cannot even guess, but I can approximate its value to me last month (July of 2014): $24,000. That was the month in which I was trying to convince the project manager of the shopping center where I was opening a new store that the building permit he insisted I had to apply for wasn’t really needed. I knew I didn’t need it. I’d consulted with the county and my architect and I had researched it. I had a printout of the code in my briefcase and was ready to offer it to prove that this guy was an idiot and didn’t know what he was talking about. But he was being very “difficult”.
Twenty minutes into our first face-to-face meeting, my architect and this guy were still sparring over technical issues that were over my head and we were getting nowhere. In that moment I remembered a story Dr. Gordon’s (creator of the leadership training program, L.E.T.) real estate agent told me many years ago. He mentioned being at an impasse with negotiations over the purchase of a lot of land. Dr. Gordon came in to the meeting and just asked, “What are your needs?” And then he just listened until the sellers felt completely understood. They made a deal right then and there while the real estate agent stood by mesmerized. Inspired by that memory, I interrupted my architect, faced the project manager and said, “It sounds like you’re very concerned and you want to make sure that whatever we do won’t have any negative consequences with the county. You just don’t want a headache in the future.” The guy turned around, looked at me, let out a deep breathe, then said, “Yes, that’s exactly it.”
After maybe five more minutes of my Active Listening to the project manager, the mood lightened. He suggested walking over to the space to inspect it in person. After a bit more technical chit-chat with my architect he was convinced that not only did I understand his needs and concerns, but that I shared his concerns. It almost sounds like a stupid, overly simplistic and obvious solution to a problem, but this man had the power to demand I apply for a formal permit and to delay my build-out. I was able to solve this problem quickly, without a fight, and in a way that left both parties happy with the outcome and with each other. Considering I’ve signed a lease and I’m now married to that center for a few years, maintaining a friendly working relationship is crucial.
So how’d I get to the $24K? Easy. It takes ninety days to get a building permit here in Hawaii. Three months x $8K per month rent = $24-thousand smackeroos. Instead of stressing out for three months and paying rent for nothing, I’m now in the middle of construction and will open within three weeks, right on schedule. I can’t even remember what I paid for L.E.T. years ago, but it was a fraction of $24K. I’d say that’s a great return on investment.