Who’s got your back? The secret partner

The Blues Brothers were Roman Catholic fundraisers

Just like me.

-spoiler alert- The entire movie is about how these two misfits try to raise an honest $5,000 ($20,000 in 2010 dollars ) to save the orphanage that they grew up in.

To quote Joliet Jake “we’re on a mission from God”.

By now, it’s no secret that I live life through movies. Blues Brothers is my strategic plan. Every time I start a project that scares me I think of this statement.

These guys are not upstanding citizens, they don’t claim to be pious or hold themselves up for others to admire. They just want to make music.

They gather their team – some leave from successful jobs, others leave family behind and they try to do one thing right.

Story of my life. Probably yours to eh?

Along the way they come across people who help them, people you know as Cab Calloway, Aretha Franklin, Ray Charles, Chaka Khan, John Lee Hooker, John Candy and many more. Some of the best blues music ever captured in a movie.

Also for some reason Princess Leia is trying to kill them. It has the record for most cars destroyed in a movie of all time.

Keith Ferazzi’s book “Never Eat Alone” is an international best seller. It’s his most famous book.

But it’s the less glamorous follow up book “Who’s Got Your Back” that I find indispensable when working with young professionals.

Among my mentors and the successful leaders I’ve studied there is a strong personal network. But there is also a secret partner, the voice of reason who helps us stay grounded in reality when all those around us have other motives.

Who’s got my back?

His name is Thomas Tran.

He is objective, cool, calm, thoughtful, methodical. As Zen as a human can get.

All the things I struggle with and maybe never will be.

Sure we are very good friends.
He’s been involved in every caper I’ve ever gone on.
He’s the godfather of my first child.

But he’s my ultimate business partner.
All my fun with weddings work is because of him.

He’s the ultimate networker, he lives in the service of others and yet he seeks no recognition. He actively rejects recognition.

A thousand people consider him their personal touchstone – listening is his currency.

I can’t count the times he’s said the following words that would be an insult coming from anyone else:

“You’re being hot-headed”
“You’re moving on this too quick, consider the alternatives”
“Don’t do this. I mean it. Don’t do this.”
“You know you’re wrong. You’re being an idiot.”
“It’s none of your business, there’s nothing you can do and nothing you should do”

And every time I do what he says not to, and end up hurt or embarrassed he doesn’t say “I told you so”, he helps but he says “you made your bed friend. Now sleep in it overnight and learn this lesson”.

So. Who is your Joliet Jake, Elmwood or Tom?

Your sounding board, your voice of reason who knows you better than yourself.

Find them. Today.

And if you like blues or soul music, watch the Blues Brothers.

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