The Power of Mutual Respect

Unlock the Power of Potential with Mutual Respect

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I had a client meeting this week. The President of a middle market software firm called me to explore some possibilities of how we might look for a technological solution to solve a current challenge in the business.

Although we exchanged four phone calls, one email and had one live conversation, when I arrived for the meeting he was not in the building. He was called away to a client site.

The intention of the meeting was that he would invite several members of his team to have an exploratory dialogue about what the perceived challenges are and what the potential solutions might be. Unfortunately this was all in his head and had not been communicated to anyone else directly.

When I arrived, the Marketing Manager, who knew me from previous work was surprised to see me. I explained the situation and she said, “The President has talked about this for a while on different occasions. I know he has a vision around it.” We both agreed we didn’t know exactly what he was thinking but this was now becoming a priority. There’s tremendous power in this kind of mutual respect. We were able to advance with no clear direction. There was no anger about not knowing of the initiative. There was no disappointment of not being included in a potential meeting. There was no griping about the President following through on something before all agreed it was the right time. This mutual trust and respect was mobilizing.

Because I know the President pretty well, I knew he’d be very remorseful he forgot to reschedule our meeting in his haste to service a client. I trusted that he would be ok with me sharing our phone conversations with his Marketing Manager. She had a little time so  I shared what I thought the intention was and she shared what her previous experiences were of this potential opportunity. We agreed that we would explore ideas and just talk with no agenda of where the conversation might lead. We knew that there would be a follow up meeting after the President had time to inform the team that he was taking a first step in exploring some possibilities. We agreed, that our dialogue would further that mission.

Later that afternoon I received a sheepish, apologetic call from the President. We talked about how many demands we all face today and how we’re inundated with so much information it’s hard to keep up. He was thrilled we made good use of the time by have an initial dialogue. He and his Marketing Manager teased each other about their complimentary strengths and weaknesses.

I’ll be out next week to meet and explore possible solutions with a greater team to have a richer dialogue.

I can’t wait to work this company again. There’s nothing we can’t create together.






I really wanted to use this photo as the cover photo in the website.







The message it demonstrated to me was that NLA works with smart, independent people that excel individually to achieve common goals.


The second photo of one person helping the other up the mountain was intended to demonstrate that we provide assistance and fill gaps so that the we can enable and unlock the potential of the smart, independent people we work with.



I couldn’t find the rights to the first photo. I searched everywhere. I searched in Google Images, I searched in ThinkStock. I became pre-occupied with the importance of this photo, of the image and the idea that I wanted to present.


I was at a crossroads. It’s not right to steal an artist’s photo. Artists are a group that are often exploited, under-appreciated, under-recognized and under-paid. Someone somewhere stood in the freezing cold to capture that shot. They deserved compensation or at least credits for the photo and I couldn’t find it.


Posting the photo without permission seems like a small risk and it probably is. I see images used commercially that I know are not available for commercial use. When I see it, I recognize it as wrong. I judge the people who used those images and I shake my head at organizations that allow it.


Could I now allow myself to be in that category — the apathetic category?


After some time, I realized that there are many great photos I could use properly that would convey a similar message. I finally chose the three figures standing on a mountain top, independently. We’ve received several compliments on the imagery.


Corporate values are important. They are the guideposts that help employees make decisions when they are at the crossroads and there’s no one around to give permission. Sound values create agility in problem solving and enable speed to market with new products and services. Authentic values attract and retain high caliber teams.


At NLA two of our core values are ‘maximizing individual contributions’ and assuring ‘fair compensation’ for those we work with. Stealing a photo from an artist is not the right thing to do. Thoughtlessly using a photo without permission is not the right thing to do.


You might be asking why the photo is presented in this blog? Is it ok to showcase work in a blog?


It’s ok. Blogs are not designed for commerce but to share information. It’s a shade of gray but an important distinction.


Solid corporate values will empower employees and leaders to make the best possible decisions with the information they have available to them, with the purest intent they can at the time in our fluid and ambiguous world.