Metal.Mental.Tough

July 29th, 2011   •   no comments   

        

I confess. I should be writing about some new social media trend or fad–maybe even Google+.  Truth is, I’m seeing a lot of great information about that stuff out there.  What I’m not seeing? Experience in the trenches, 25 years of “stuff” that makes you what you are.  In this day of social transparency, it’s 24-7 non-stop “streams and screams” of information.  All of this is fine, of course.  The key to success for business is simply this: what strategies work and what channels do we select?  As the channels grow, it’s important to remember two things: 1. These are tools; they do not replace what traditional marketing teaches us about relationships and sales and 2.  If you cannot sell, you won’t win.  Which leads me to my point of selling is tough and to stay in the game of business, selling is critical.  

Looking back at my career…I was not “mentally tough” until I had the (then) misfortune of working for Robert L. Cox (a blessing in disguise) aka: Bobby the wild card, Bobby the toughest, Bobby the cussing machine, Bobby the almighty.  I say this with the deepest of respect.  Bobby Cox, age 60-ish when I met him fought cancer 3 or 4 times successfully before passing (against his will and Lord only knows he argued with St. Peter and God when he got to heaven) just after 9/11.  Not only was our country in grief, I was in grief over the loss of somebody who taught me the value of being tough and how to do it.  

If any Memphis lawyers over age of 50 are reading this, they might appreciate it.  For you young folk out there–I can only say that things are mighty different now and you are lucky in your career if one day, somebody isn’t afraid to “bust you up” and like it.  Without further delay (you know I like brevity), here’s why I will always love Bobby Cox and what I learned from him:

(Note: Just a small fact that he helped Fred Smith start FedEx and that when he died he was legal counsel to FedEx and also Secretary of the Board of Directors of FedEx.  He and Fred Smith went way back with college and maybe the Navy. I attended his funeral where Chairman and CEO of FedEX,  Fred Smith spoke at his funeral–I cried like a baby.)

  • Bobby Cox let me shoot a Benelli .12 shotgun at Frank Watson’s farm– and until I shot, it was all men.  I won.  I had just had baby #1 and Bobby said, “let her shoot.”  I did and from then on some of the attorneys called me Annie-O. To this day, I’ll never be able to thank him for telling his boys to let a girl shoot at their event. I don’t think Frank Watson was all that happy but I’m sure he got over it.
  • Everybody in the law firm was afraid of Bobby (mostly because he’d cuss you out if you looked at him but I loved that spirit and as I grew up in Texas, I had a healthy respect for that) and one day I snuck into his office when he was out- and prank called all the attorneys I could and left messages (this was in 1992 so technology wasn’t as good).  I laughed so hard and finally confessed to him. I didn’t know if he was going to fire me or kiss me.  He didn’t do either but that was the last time I did that.
  • Once a new bond salesman at Morgan Keegan parked his new BMW in Bobby’s unmarked parking spot.  Although there was an empty space nearby, Bobby–in good fashion–opted to wench the BMW to his old, brown Toyota Landcruiser until the front tires were off the ground.  On the market closing, of course the bond salesman was beyond mad.  When he appeared to complain, I got to be the fly on the wall watching Bobby give him a “touch-up” about parking in “his” spot.  Then, Bobby threw his keys at him and said, “go un-hook your toy and keep it away from my truck.”….
  • One day–in my work as a volunteer in a civic group, I found out there was corruption taking place and I threatened to expose it.  These were people twice my age.  They, in turn, threatened to go to my boss and get me fired from my job.  What did Bobby do? Stood by me.  We got the bad guys.  True story.  Lesson: Do the right thing.  Bobby was that kind of man.  I’ll never forget it.  I was only 27 and had no real political power but my law firm stood by me and more importantly, Bobby told them he’d run them out if they weren’t careful.  
  • I made a cussin’ jar for Bobby when he met with the young associate lawyers.  I’d say, “Bobby…you cannot use the F-bomb on these young, innocent people…You must pay me $5 for every violation. We’ll have enough for the partner bonus pool.”  He loved it that I stood up to him with respect and admiration.  
  • Bobby loved and lived to hunt–especially turkeys.  Anything really but he also loved any challenge.  He embraced difficult. He argued with everyone and he loved to say this, “screw it, I’ll do what I damn well want to.”  Those who knew him might say that was putting it nice.

In closing, my last few encounters with Bobby were when I started my own business. I still have the letter he wrote (on his lawyer letterhead from Memphis’ oldest law firm, Waring-Cox) to me encouraging and congratulating me for my success.  He called me one of his “favorite people” and signed it “all my love”.  I have that letter framed.  The last time I saw him was when I snuck into his Baptist Memorial Hospital room while his wife Joel and staff were away.  I just happened on it; he was alone and I walked in.  He was on a respirator but knew me and his eyes lit up when he saw me.  I simply blew him a kiss, told him thanks and said, “Now you get your butt out of this bed and kick some ass right now.”  He blew me his last goodbye kiss and I will never forget it.  Thank you Bobby Cox and all the great attorneys he hired who taught me “mental tough”.  There is no better teacher.  With love to Bobby and FedEx….a salute to great men who helped this woman get a shot off!  Thanks to all the men out there who encourage and support women entrepreneurs and believe in them.  Thanks for reading this!  Inspire someone today! 

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