“When the cop started knocking on my door, I knew I had to answer. They kicked me out of my room. I tried talking to the front desk, but the cop said, ‘NO. YOU NEED TO LEAVE THE PREMISES NOW.’”
That’s what David told me, when I called to find out what was going on.
Jeez, and I thought I had a frustrating time getting on the conference call.
A couple weeks earlier, David had asked to interview me about hooks in marketing and salescopy. We set a date and time.
A couple days before our interview, my apartment sent a notice that they’d be testing their siren system. They didn’t know when. But it could fall during our interview. Not exactly pleasant background noise. Even a 5% chance of the alarm blaring during our call, was unacceptable.
I found out I could lock myself in the club house’s theater room.
On the way down, the elevator lurched to a halt and I wondered if a cable would snap, rocketing me to the ground floor. I jumped out on the 1st floor. It was a premonition of things to come.
Two minutes into our call, my WIFI dropped. I called back in with my phone, breathing deep and making sure to enter all 50 or whatever digits to get back on the webinar line.
David admitted I wasn’t the only one having challenges. “I’m hosting this call from my hotel room and I asked the front desk if I could stay in my room a bit longer. They said I could, but I don’t think everyone knows. I’m getting knocks on the door.”
“Do you have the Do Not Disturb sign up? Worked for me in Vegas.”
Later, I’d find out how useless that suggestion was. But during the call, I noticed several times David disappeared for half a minute or so. I figured he had a bad connection.
After over an hour, David ended the call, his voice fading out so much that the final note of the interview was garbled noise tumbling into silence.
“Are you kidding me?” I thought.
So I called him, to find out what happened.
Turns out his connection wasn’t bad at all – at least not at first. He just muted his line, when the hotel staff began banging on his door, demanding he leave. He ignored them as best he could.
Then the cops showed up.
He didn’t ignore them. While keeping his phone close, David grabbed his things and tried reasoning with the police as they hustled him out the door. They wouldn’t even allow him to speak to the front desk.
I felt my brain re-wiring as I listened and realized how wrong my first impression was. There I was, feeling frustrated with how the call was going. And it turned out, David was holding his shit together while almost getting arrested.
- I realized that I could have been a little more patient. If I were to assess myself, I was over 90% there. But that still leaves an extra 10%. Refining how you conduct yourself is tricky in situations like this. When do you push forward? When do you allow? The further you shoot up the social strata, the trickier it gets. A go-to way to guide yourself, is monitor whether you’re getting upset, rattled, or annoyed… and whether you’re letting that get to you. If yes, work on yourself. If no, then you’ll have a much better grasp of what to do.
- I made a mental note to remember what happened, if I ever have trouble on a call and get frustrated. I can always remind myself that people have handled worse things. Like almost getting arrested. The only more disruptive events I can think of are getting robbed or attacked by a wild animal. I moved out of Baltimore, so I think I’m relatively safe from the first. I’ll just make sure to not take calls in the woods.
- You never… never… never know what’s going on behind the scenes or on the other end. You’re either making up your own facts, or interpreting a small percentage of the facts available. When David’s line kept cutting out, I figured it was a bad connection and nothing more. Which happens. But I would have felt completely different in the moment, if I had known he was juggling a phone, a laptop, and a police escort.
- On the call, we were discussing “hooks” for a sales message. I described how I always try to find the juiciest fact that can grab a reader’s attention, and bring that to the forefront of a sales message. In addition to that, I try to find something incongruent. Something weird. The story of a millionaire who was bankrupt. The heart health secret discovered in a dangerous explosive. Water that makes you older. Then… the call itself became life-imitating-art. When I talked with David afterwards, I told him that he now has a story he can tell for the next five decades. Every time he hosts a meeting, or speaks at an event, or even when he’s chatting with someone new… he can say he was almost handcuffed and thrown in jail for hosting a conference call about marketing. He found his personal hook. “Nothing bad happens to a writer,” I said on the call – and I repeated that to him.
“Dude, I’m jealous!” I said.
“You can reference me!” he replied.
And that’s what I’m doing now.
You don’t have to be a writer, to transform challenges into a story.
You can be someone interviewing for a job. Or going on a date. Or teaching something to your children.
What embarrassed you in the past? What caused you pain? What do you want to push away, not talk about, and hide from?
Bust it out, instead. Because, just like fears dissolving when you confront them, a painful past can become a positive force in your life, if you’re proud to share it. I hope David is.