Step 1—Get Past Your Fears and Think Thru Things Methodically.
We would be meeting with a large team of 10 people including high level leaders from this retailer like their interim CEO, VP of sourcing, a VP on the merchant side, and their Design Director to show them our concepts for both guys and girls product.
Our team lined up to make the presentation would include—myself, our 2 company owners (the Chinese owner who can speak to the factory and is knowledgeable about the production details, but doesn’t necessarily meet with retailers on a regular basis and our NY based CEO who works daily with high level industry leaders and can speak to pricing, company specifics, statistics, time and action calendars, etc.), our sales person who landed the appointment but is new to this type of product development type of meeting, and 2 young designers to assist me with the product.
Based on the people on our team, I knew that the meeting’s content would be handled by our CEO and myself in terms of most of the talking. As always, he would speak to the numbers side of things and I would speak to the product and trend part of things.
As if that wasn’t enough, over the weekend, things took a turn for the worse….I was the lucky recipient of a stomach bug that seemed to be traveling at light speed through the NY metropolitan area. Luckily it was out of my system by Monday and although not feeling 100%, I was feeling like I would be fine for the meeting, but guess what, our CEO had caught the same bug and was barely able to even function enough to send an email saying he had to cancel out of the trip. I knew it had to be bad if he couldn’t even call in or email me any directive for handling the meeting. I was starting to go into crisis mode.
Knowing that we had so many important people in attendance for the meeting (it’s not easy to gather these people at once so it would be our only shot), it would have to go on as planned; there was no way we could cancel it. And I, still recovering from my stomach bug and feeling like we had not come to any resolution for our final presentation, and now worrying that I had to carry the ball on some of the topics that our CEO would normally talk to, and manage a team that is a bit green in terms of high level meetings was starting to go into melt down mode.
I was feeling very overwhelmed and insecure about how I was going to manage my team and also be able to handle some of the discussion that our CEO would typically handle. I needed to take a deep breath, get my thoughts together, and take control over what we were going to do.
So after a brief moment of hysteria with thoughts in my head of “why is this happening, I can’t do this, how can we get out of this meeting”– I came to my senses and just knew that we had to get our team organized and settled on a final presentation. I had this one day to deal with all of the final details because we would be in flight the next morning.
If my sales and design team didn’t feel comfortable with the final product and have enough time to prep and practice, there was no way we would have a successful meeting. I just needed to go with my gut instinct on final decisions without my CEO. In some ways, it made the last minute decisions easier. I could finalize the design part of the presentation and get the team going on how they would set up and organize for the meeting.
We had it all nailed down by the afternoon so the team could have time to get comfortable with everything–
Step 1 accomplished.