“Can you endorse me?” Sorry, do I know you?

Do I know you? I mean, the real you? The one I know is the one that has represented to me the image they wish me to know. That may not be the face you show to others. Thus, the danger of endorsing anyone.

For many years, I owned and opperated a large group of Auto Quick Lubes. I was successful in execution, getting large quantities of cars through and maintaining a very healthy happy customer relationship. Due to this, my  reputation grew in the industry where others lube owners would follow when I took on a new product or process.

One day I was invited to a meeting with the franchisor and a oil company. I had been very happy with my current one (“P”) but would never turn down a chance to meet and listen to what is being offered from another (“V”). The V oil provider presented a nice range of products and services. Not enough for me to switch my chain of stores but could be a nice option for new entrants to the industry.

As the meeting was wrapping up, we gathered at one end of the conference room table to look over a layout of ads being proposed. A month later, the company newsletter came out with a snap shot of the end-of-table gathering with text representing a new deal being signed. Many lube owners must have gotten the newsletter at the same time because all lines in the office lit up and kept going for hours. The callers wanted to know what motivated me to switch, which was not the case.

This is just one example from the many I have over the years. There was pictures of me wearing a tshirt showing through my race uniform and the company representing I was joining forces with them. The list goes on, the short lesson being that a picture or text can be represented as anything when it is out of your hands.

I have felt bad not endorsing the many people that have requested my doing so. My arguement is that I can only represent how you have acted around me. And, in our time together, I had a part in shaping the relationship. Your time working with someone else or in a different environment will cause you to deliver at a different rate or represent yourself differently. I can only explain how we worked or didn’t work together. If the endorsement is placed in front of someone else, they may expect the two of you to enjoy a similar relationship. Since I know each relationship is unique to two parties working together, the person basing a decision on how we worked together would be setting themselves up for a disappointment. Not that anyone delivers less when working with folks other than me, they may actually deliver much better. In every case though, it will be different.

In the end I have to turn down the endorsing requests. Please understand, I’m not turning you down, it’s the other you I don’t know.