Don’t Dip Your Quill In Company Ink

Aaron McHugh

I ride bikes most weekends with a group of guys. One of the guys, taught me this lesson.

Twenty-five years ago, his mentor gave him this advice, “Don’t dip your quill in company ink”. The summary is don’t mix romance and work. Without trying to be too crass, you can do what you will with your quill, but don’t involve anyone you work with or especially anyone who works for you.

Let me tell you a true story to illustrate the risks of not heeding this principle.

Early in my sales career, I won a company contest with the grand prize being a trip to the owner’s five-star horse ranch in Montana. The top 100 sales people gathered for a multi-day shindig bonanza to celebrate our company’s high performers.

Fast forward past the night of the Type A salespeople cutting loose, picture horse troughs full of beer, a country western band flown in from Nashville, TN, a stage built inside the indoor horse arena. It was a full-blown party.

The morning after the big palooza, the barely awake top 100 are assembled again in the horse arena for a buffet breakfast. The owner of the company comes riding in to give us a “Howdy-good morning” atop his favorite horse. He started in on a William Wallace type speech, thanking us for working so hard.

Despite the owners pulling on the reins, his horse was super distracted by something he smelled in the stacked hay bales 10 feet away. The horse caught a scent and wouldn’t stop nosing around this one corner. All of a sudden from behind the stacks, our married with children VP of Sales sits up. It was immediately clear that he had never made it to his bunk, but slept off his buzz there in the hay. Ok, we reminded ourselves, “He likes to party”. Milliseconds later, one of his female employees sat up next to him.

…It was not good. The whole company was there as witness to why your quill and company ink shouldn’t mix.

Be careful what do with your quill.

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