I had been publishing it for about five years when a woman in one of my meetings pulled me aside as the meeting ended. Almost in a whisper, as if not wanting to be a tattletale, she said, “I think somebody is plagiarizing you.”
“Why?” I asked.
She pulled from her purse a clipped article from the local paper written by Dr. Richard Borough, Ph.D. “Look at this,” she said, tapping the paper, “It’s the same thing you talk about in our meetings. You might want to call him.” The piece was about SMART goals.
“Thank you,” I said, “But, no, he didn’t copy me. That’s a common technique among those of us who work on goal setting.”
It was, however, enough of a prompt for me to reach out and introduce myself to him.
Richard ran a business support group, “Mastermind Alliance,” which he developed years prior when he was getting his practice on its feet in the bay area. When he moved to the Northcoast, he relocated its meetings, eventually expanding it also to the Central Valley. I had heard of it from business associates, almost always spoken of in hushed reverence; regarded as a blend of the “Million Dollar Circle” and the Who’s Who of local entrepreneurs. Great minds developed great concepts within its monthly get-togethers; only the best were invited.
Richard asked me to attend the first day we met. I don’t know if I was a “Great Mind,” yet I enjoyed the camaraderie, companionship, and supportive sharing. As my career morphed and changed, I no longer needed to attend; however, it remained on my calendar and whenever an open Wednesday made itself available, I was there.
Richard was at first a mentor, but as we worked jointly on projects, and discovered we had so many similarities, such as writing, speaking, marketing, and coaching; we developed a tight bond. He reached out to me for suggestions as often as I with him. It was inevitable that Richard and I became more than friends. I know the expression is somewhat overused, but he really did feel like a brother. I never had a brother, let alone an older one. Richard filled that role, as well as being a loyal friend.
For some reason unbeknownst to me, we didn’t go out often, only doing so on each other’s birthdays.
That was it, no more. Yet we never missed it. That unto itself was not so odd, but he insisted that we forever, every time, without fail, visit Oaxaca Grill and always order the same meal. We would do so on his birthday each year — and then again on mine. Despite suggestions from me, no other options were considered.
“Why do we always come here?” I asked. “Why not somewhere else?”
“I like this restaurant.” He replied simply as if that answered everything.
And you know what? It did. I couldn’t think of a better argument so I accepted the simple logic of it, and the tradition continued, only sidelined this year due to COVID. At our semi-annual lunches, we discussed politics, technology, TV shows, marketing – and of course business. I know we both really looked forward to those afternoons; why we didn’t do them more often I haven’t a clue.
The last time we got together was this summer. He needed to go to the hospital for a minor procedure and asked me if I’d drive him there and pick him up later that day.
“Sure,” I committed, before getting more details, “When?”
“I need to be there at 5:30.”
“In the morning?! I have to get up around 4:30 to get you to the doctor?”
“Yes,” he replied, “Will you still do it?”
Of course, I would. And I did. When I dropped him off at home, escorting him to the door that afternoon, I jokingly said, “You’re lucky I’m such a good friend, getting up before God wakes up to take you to the hospital when I could have been in bed. You owe me big time.”
“I do. You’re right. And when COVID is over, I’ll treat you to an extra lunch at Oaxaca.” He hugged me and disappeared into his house; the last time I’d ever see him.
His offer shall remain forever unfulfilled, not only a disappointment to the restaurant I’m sure but to our community at large, where he will be sorely missed; a hole that will remain forever empty.
Richard, I know you’re reading this, wherever you are.
The next time we see each other, you’re buying lunch – and I’m choosing the restaurant.
About the author: Scott “Q” Marcus is a professional speaker and founder of www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com, where he can be contacted for coaching, consulting, and presentations. During this social distancing period, he is conducting monthly on-line workshops on setting goals and getting past what holds you back. You can find out more at www.ThisTimeIMeanIt.com/intentions