Saturday, June 7, 2008

Two Points for Honesty

Staying with my sister tonight in Annapolis, MD.

I got in late. We talked about food for a while and watched the Michael Pollan TED Talk.

Now it's even later. So I'll make this quick.

On my way down here, I stopped in Baltimore to see Steve, a developer that made a bid on the request for proposal I sent out a little while back.

The request netted two proposals that I'd feel very comfortable accepting, and my big goal over the next few days is to pick one and start running with it.

I rolled into Baltimore expecting Steve to give me the hard sell. We had briefly discussed the difference between his proposal and the other one, but we hadn't gone into serious detail about why his was better.

We started talking, and things spun in a totally different direction. Steve didn't sell. He heard my story, heard me tell him what I do and don't like about the two proposals. He took it in. And he thought with me.

He told me what was good about his solution. He told me what wasn't so good. He told me what was good about the other solution. He told me what wasn't so good. And, as we got deep into it, he acknowledged I should probably hire the other guys.

He said I should make sure of a few things. I should ask a few more questions I still haven't asked. I should go ahead with the supplementary interview with Big Dan Shupp (both my biggest and toughest tech advisor). But, if all goes as well as it probably will, I should give them the job.

Honesty. Transparency. Open beats closed.

Brad Burnham wrote about it the other day in a great little piece about fraternizing with the competition. Fred Wilson continued that discussion on AVC. Umair Haque writes about it all the time. And Steve just showed it to me first hand.

He could have pushed a solution on me tonight, and it would have been a good one. But, instead, he focused on the problem, and he offered thoughtful advice.

I hugely appreciate it.

If anyone needs some web development work done, let me know. I know a wizard down in Baltimore.

Note: The title comes from a Guster song from a Guster album that I think has a decidedly rock opera feel. Not particularly relevant. But, as usual, it's past my bedtime, and that's my excuse.

Update (July 2): According to the blog post I just read, Seth Godin would 100% of Steve's decision to suggest that a potential customer hire the competition. I figure it carries a little more authority coming from Seth than from me. A little.


steve goodman said...

Jake, I appreciate the shoutout. I'm little late on seeing the post, I know, but I've been neglecting my RSS reader so that I can actually get stuff done, rather than think about other people's thoughts all day!

Jake de Grazia said...

Hey Steve.

Shoutout is well deserved. Might not have seemed like much at the time, but that was a hugely helpful conversation.

As for RSS, I try to chip away every day and share an article or two. I love it so much when others share and comment, I want to reciprocate. It is tough, though. Days can disappear in there. So much to read. No "stop time" button.

Talk soon.