I’ve sat in dozens of identical introductory meetings with clients in my career–the usual handshakes and pleasantries, the soft chuckle that precedes “So let’s get down to business,” and the poker faces during the pitch, before it all comes full circle with another round of handshakes and pleasantries. The ones that stand out tend to do so for the wrong reasons.
There was one exception that has stuck with me for years, however, and helped me to rethink everything I knew about forming relationships in business. This particular meeting began like any other. My partner and I took our seats in the client’s office and made small talk with him, before he threw us a curveball. “So let’s get down to business,” he started. “But first, let me get you some popcorn.” He then proceeded to stand up and exit, as my partner and I looked at one another, bemused. Was this a trick? Some sort of deft power move? Was he even coming back?
Seconds later, he reemerged carrying two small bags of popcorn, as promised. He casually handed them to us as though this were completely normal. A mantra soon began running through my head: “I want to work with this man.” The “down to business” part of the meeting proceeded routinely, save for the crunching of popcorn heard throughout. But there was also an inescapable air of enthusiasm during the conversation, and it came courtesy of a handful of fluffed corn kernels.
The importance of first impressions in business is not a secret–interviews have been sunk and deals have been lost as a result of a weak handshake or bad posture. But we sometimes overlook the other side of that; the ways one can go above and beyond in an initial meeting. These little gestures are deliberately not extravagant, but they immediately stand out and could ultimately prove to be the factor that establishes a long-lasting and rewarding relationship.
As we made our concluding round of handshakes and pleasantries, I felt compelled to once again thank the client for the popcorn. He smiled and said it was nothing. But I remembered it every time I returned to his office as we continued doing business together.
Apparently the most-covered pop song of all time, “Yesterday” is essentially a perfect composition, so don’t be fooled by its ranking just shy of the top 100. When the protagonist began playing it in the recent film of the same name, I got chills, and that was a decidedly flaccid “guitarist on the quad” rendition of the song. But the versions by Ray Charles, Judy Collins, Aretha Franklin, and of course the Beatles’ original are all beautiful blueprints of the possibilities of putting this song in the right hands.
When I say the Beatles, though, I really just mean Paul McCartney, who is the only member of the band involved with its writing and recording. Even when it was performed in concert, John, George, and Ringo would step aside for Paul’s solo spotlight. Despite its generation-spanning appeal, Continue reading “#103: Yesterday”
My affinity for the Beatles’ harmonies is no secret at this point, and “Because” is one of the most stunning examples on record. John, Paul, and George blend together so beautifully here, and major kudos to whoever decided to include an a capella rendition on Anthology 3, because it allows listeners to appreciate their incredible vocals absent of the unsettling, sparse instrumentation found on Abbey Road. It truly transforms the lyrics from ominous to optimistic.
That said, I don’t dislike the original version by any means. It’s kind of creepy but also calming. Despite John Lennon’s claim that “Because” is Continue reading “#104: Because”
I have a theory about “Hello Goodbye.” It’s probably a stretch, and maybe I’m playing armchair psychologist a bit, but here goes: “Hello Goodbye” marks the beginning of the end of the Beatles. Continue reading “#105: Hello Goodbye”
The idea of “beyond the grave” duets has an inherent creepiness factor, and somehow, even though “Real Love” is a much better song than “Free as a Bird,” it feels decidedly more unsettling. I’d chalk this up mostly to the hollowness of John Lennon’s lead vocals, filtered from a piano demo and carrying an (intentional?) almost ghostly effect amidst the added production from the surviving Beatles. However, I’m not going to take for granted one last opportunity to hear Paul harmonize with John, even artificially. George’s guitar work is also a wonderful addition.
Not only did Yoko wisely opt not to contribute, but kudos to her for not trying to snag additional royalties by taking a credit for playing “wind” or whatever.
After “Free as a Bird” and “Real Love,” you’d be forgiven for assuming that a third ‘reunion’ single would accompany Anthology 3, but apparently the remaining trio couldn’t agree on a Lennon demo to tackle. Rumor has it the leading contender was Continue reading “#106: Real Love”
By far the most puzzling inclusion on the Red and Blue albums–seriously, how did this George Harrison-penned b-side make it onto a Beatles best-of?–“Old Brown Shoe” is an all-around enigma. When George was coming into his own as a writer with masterpieces like “Here Comes the Sun” and “Isn’t It a Pity,” he composed this oddball track, even recording a demo on the same day as “Something” and “All Things Must Pass.” And yet, as readers of this countdown know, I have an inherent bias towards George tracks, and so “Old Brown Shoe” has long been one of my random favorites.
This song is full of such bizarre non sequiturs that I don’t really see any issues with these lines. Practically every lyric seems Continue reading “#107: Old Brown Shoe”
Let’s just get out of the way the single biggest reason why I can’t in good conscience rank this song any higher: Continue reading “#108: I Feel Fine”