His Handshake Was His Word

His Handshake Was His Word

I’ve been in the business of relationship building for over 25 years and as a result have learned more about human nature, the good the bad and the ugly, than I care to remember.  Although I have tried to file away the more negative experiences, some were so traumatic that I still get a bit sweaty just thinking about them.  There was the time, early in my career, when a very senior politician took a strip out of me in front of a room full of reporters for not inviting her into the Green Room with the rest of the VIPs  (she had arrived late in an attempt to make an entrance and it seems I missed her), then there was the time we lost out on a piece of business that I killed myself day and night for three weeks to win because according to the decision maker I was “too friendly”, and then there was the time when we lost a major and very prestigious piece of business, even though the relationship was amazing and the results were through the roof, because “someone” who was now in a position of authority  knew “someone” whom he preferred to have “closer”.  You can figure out the rest!


But then there are those amazing people and special experiences that draw you back in and that help you remember why you got into this business in the first place.  We are human after all. We thirst for knowledge, we are driven to succeed, we respond to kindness, we long for acceptance and who doesn’t want to be acknowledged and appreciated for all the hard work and effort!?


Andy Parris, Marketing Director for Canada for the Caribbean Tourism Organization, our client, set that bar high.  He was an industry expert, well known and very well respected within travel and tourism circles around the world.  People everywhere sought his counsel.  He was wise, smart, strategic, knowledgeable, hugely credible and often tough, but most of all he was human.   He was kind, caring, thoughtful, generous, sharing, encouraging and had a great sense of Caribbean humour.  He was a mentor, a teacher and an advisor – he was my friend. 


He led by example, which is what I try hard to do both in my personal and professional life - not always successfully.  We all face challenges and adversities that we fight to overcome.  Sometimes life becomes so overwhelming that we just don’t know how we are going to survive.  And then I remember Andy, his strength of character, his pearls of wisdom and his personal stories of struggle.  And then I find that hidden strength, smile, remember how blessed I am to have had, and to have, so many amazing and good people in my life – and of course – to be Mom to my “Gold Bead” as Andy used to call Morgan when she was a little girl, and then it all doesn’t seem as bad.