By Michael Gunther


Whether ’tis Nobler in the mind to suffer

The Slings and Arrows of outrageous Fortune,

Or to take Arms against a Sea of troubles,

And by opposing end them…


I rarely quote Shakespeare, but a recent incident reminded me of this opening phrase of a soliloquy in his play Hamlet. Do you stand idly while opposing forces attack you, or do you fight against these troubles to do what is right? Let me explain…

A few weeks ago I attended a business function at which I’d been asked to speak about leadership and management. Immediately after I finished and was returning to my seat, an individual I’d met only once before approached me (I’ll call this person “John Doe”). He said he’d heard I might be working with a potential new client, and that we should partner on this project. He handed me his business card, and then off he went—all while the next speaker had taken the stage and begun.

I didn’t think much of this little interlude because it happened so fast and I barely knew John. But later that day I received a copy of an email he sent to my potential new client. It stated that he had spoken to me that morning and thought we could collaborate on a project for this client. He actually reached out to my potential client and acted as if we were going to work together without even asking or speaking to me about this scenario.

I have to admit, at first I was stunned. That a practical stranger would assume I would want to work with him and that he would imply it to my potential new client. My frustration grew into anger, and then, I focused on our core values—one of which is Leadership. I picked up the telephone (after I calmed down) and called my potential client. I left a message and apologized for any confusion, explaining I had no relationship with John. I then emailed John and cc’d the potential client, letting him know it was not okay he’d used my name and my company’s name and suggest we had spoken about partnering together on a project.

An interesting thing transpired. John never responded to me, but did send a subsequent cryptic message to my potential client, who in turn reached out to me via email and said now more than ever they were ready to move forward with our services. After speaking with our new client about this situation, I learned it was the way I handled it which pushed them over the edge and realized my company was the right fit for them. So, an incident that could have been extremely damaging to our hard earned reputation actually turned around for the positive.

It still amazes me that someone would behave like that and believe it was okay. Business is all about relationships and I know that relationships are fragile and need to be nurtured. I hope this individual realizes what he did was inappropriate or at the very least doesn’t attempt that type of behavior again. It didn’t bode well for him and created a lot of unnecessary frustration for both my potential client and myself.

Bottom Line

Be willing to protect your company’s hard earned reputation. Other individuals may want to ride your coattails, so be wary of people who want to “partner” without knowing you, your business, or process. Be willing to fight back in a professional and timely manner. Lastly, clear core values within your company always prove to give the best guidance on how to resolve almost any issue.

This is another article in a series on Michael’s entrepreneurial story and how being raised in a large family has influenced his career. To read the previous articles in this series, visit his blog at

Michael Gunther is Founder and President of Collaboration LLC, a team of highly skilled business professionals who are dedicated to assisting proactive business owners to build profitable, sustainable businesses through results-oriented education and consulting services. Learn more at


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