You Are the Weakest Link

I had an experience earlier this year that re-inforced how important executional excellence is – and how easy it is for the weakest link in your chain to break… and leave you looking bad.

I was at the New York Auto Show for my Porsche client when a Client Product Manager asked for my help. He told me he was holding a breakfast the following morning at the show for Porsche Club members and asked if I could put together a presentation to take them through our latest campaign, called “Engineered for Magic, Everyday”. He said it would be very casual – he was serving basic coffee and pastry only, he was presenting something very casual himself, and he said the audience was a low-impact group of friends of the brand. Because I had my lap-top with me, it was relatively easy for me to put together. And because I’m  a nice guy :), I said yes.  I got all the materials together by the end of that day and loaded them on his presentation lap top. I got up early, got to the show for the breakfast, and did my presentation.

Aside from a brief hiccup where the Quicktime didn’t play, which required about 90 seconds of intensive trouble-shooting, it all seemed to go very well. I felt like my presentation was engaging and informative. The guests seemed interested. A number of people came up to me afterwards to tell me how much they enjoyed it, and to ask more questions. And I got a lot out of it, as well, as I was able to ask and gain insights about their experiences with the brand, while also encouraging them to contribute to the User Generated portion of the campaign. And the Client was happy, as well. Mission accomplished, right?

Not so fast. About a week later, I was forwarded a copy of an email that had been sent to the COO by a disgruntled guest of the breakfast. He complained that the breakfast was not up to Porsche quality and wasted his time – the breakfast was poor, and the presentation included an un-professional quality flub. Wow. Not only did I feel like I under-delivered, but the COO probably felt so, too.

What could I have done differently? I could have gotten up earlier and done a run-through. Clicked through it and made sure it all looked perfect, ran well, went smoothly. Just because it was a “casual” presentation didn’t mean it was one where professionalism and quality don’t matter. My bad. Or in the words of Rick Perry, “oops”.

This just goes to show you that, despite having the best intentions, taking the time to help out, developing something smart, and delivering your work with passion, you will always be undone by uninspired execution. By failing to go the extra lengths to deliver excellence. By a good idea, poorly executed. By the weakest link.


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