Part XXIX – Banking on It (Continued)
If I accept you as you are, I will make you worse;
however, if I treat you as though you are what you are capable of becoming,
I help you become that.
~ Johan Wolfgang von Goethe
I now see in my records that it was 1995 when I coordinated that Sixth Annual Los Angeles Lawyers’ Dinner at the Natural History Museum with the caterer in question. And now a year later I was again in charge of producing that prestigious event for the Citibank Private Bank – the Seventh Annual Lawyers’ Dinner.
The client had always chosen a downtown Los Angeles venue for this event, as the guests would be arriving directly from their law firms on a business day and many of the major firms were downtown. I was able to secure the beautiful Grand Hall of the Music Center, the Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles County. As for the catering, the Music Center had their own in-house catering and restaurant operation, so an outside caterer could not be brought in. That was perfectly wonderful for me, as the Music Center housed the most prestigious theatres in the city, as well as the philharmonic and opera house. The catering staff was used to accommodating the most important clients and events and there service was impeccable. I was delighted that I was able to secure a rare open date at this location.
The caterer from my ‘Opening Scene’ called me to find out where the lawyers’ dinner would be, hoping that she still had a chance at the job, but the tables had certainly turned. She didn’t know that Jean was determined never to use her and she was now at my mercy. :-) Yes, the tables had turned. But there was something in me that would not let me treat her in the same way that she had brushed me off not long before. I gloated over the turn of events for a bit, but when it came to actually speaking with her and having to let her down, I knew I had to do it with grace and civility. After all, the Citibank Private Bank had been her client up until that time and now she had lost her client to me. I am sure this humbled her. My instincts told me to let her down easy and I did. I explained to her that we were able to secure a date at the Music Center and they obviously have their own caterer. So I let her believe that that was the only reason she would not be catering the event that year. I couldn’t tell her the truth. But I’m sure deep down she knew she was out of the picture. Looking back at the situation, I realize that I was refining my own spiritual qualities of forgiveness, compassion and humility and I would soon discover still another reason why my guidance led me to handle her so carefully.
The Lawyers’ Dinner in the Grand Hall was wonderful. During the reception and dinner, prior to the guest speaker, we had a trio of musicians who were the first tier members of the Los Angeles Philharmonic. The catering and service by the Music Center’s staff was excellent. Everything was first class.
For the client that year, in addition to the Lawyers’ Dinner, I also coordinated a Private Dinner Concert with the Philharmonic as well as the Showboat Dinner and Performance. Both events held at the Music Center were for the attorneys and their spouses.
Jean Tardy was such an incredible client. He was a creative thinker himself and we would put our heads together and come up with great ideas. But he also gave me full reign and let me express my creativity for these events, providing the budget for me to do so. The creativity wasn’t always expensive – for example, for the Showboat dinner, I ordered small painted wooden riverboats right from New Orleans and had them shipped here. I had the florist incorporate them into the gorgeous table arrangements. Other aspects of the events, especially for the Lawyers’ Dinners, were elaborate. For that annual three-hour dinner and an average guest count of 130-200, the billing was often over $100,000 (yes, you read that correctly). And that’s without spouses! More detail on this later…
You know that I was guided to deal with the former caterer delicately – with kindness instead of well, arrogance. I had by then been in business for about 12 years and had never crossed paths with her before this occurrence, although I was aware of her just like I was aware of all of the other top event professionals in the city, as they were aware of me. We all knew who we were, whether we worked together or not. But the chances that this caterer and I would cross paths twice in the same time frame and especially after what had transpired – that was definitely unusual and very synchronistic. This is what happened…
I received a phone call around that same time from a client in Denver. Remember during the cable convention, there was a second mansion party I produced across the canyon from the Home & Garden Television bash with Crosby, Stills & Nash?
Well, the call from Denver was that client. They wanted me to book an estate and coordinate their event, but they asked me if I would consider using their chosen caterer – a caterer who apparently had ties to the owner of the company. And you know who that caterer was, don’t you?
Are you starting to recognize the 'Sub Plot' here? My experience with this caterer was coming full circle…
• There were major flaws in her service at the event we had worked on together…
• She thereafter lost her former client to me.
• She was decidedly rude to me when she thought she had the client secured this year and was happy to see me out of the picture.
And now the Universe was handing me the decision to hire her or not for a different client. Something was cookin’ here and I’m not referring to the caterer’s kitchen.
Now let’s consider my general perspective…
• I had the knowledge of locations that clients wanted – that was a primary aspect of their events.
• I had the ability to coordinate and produce all aspects of the events.
• I believe my reputation and expertise were strong enough to allow me to insist on using my own vendors without putting off the clients.
I had a decision to make.
What do YOU think that decision was?
To be continued…
Private Reply to Marilyn Jenett (new win)