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Stories From the Book: Lesson #1: Loyalty

Thanks to Professor Verinder Syal, I was recently guest lecturer for a portion of the Principles of Entrepreneurship class at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Sophomore Lisa Guo emailed afterwards to ask which interview from the book impacted me most.

I had to  think about it, because I learned something with each interview. But thinking more about her question, the first person who came to mind was Raj Soin. Raj was CEO and founder of MTC in Ohio, a consulting company that he and his wife took from a startup with $1700 in funding, to an eventual sale to BAE for $425 million. The money is not what was most impressive.  I asked Raj if he had ever faced a crisis, and he chuckled and said, yes, of course. One day his wife, who was the company bookkeeper, walked into his office, and it was payday, and she was crying. She told Raj there was not enough money to meet payroll. He tried to wave her off, telling her to just use their credit cards to get cash, to which she cried even harder, telling him there wasn’t any credit left on their cards. His response was to tell her to go home. I didn’t see how that solved the problem, but the interview moved on. A couple minutes later we were talking about loyalty, and Raj said it’s a two way street. He said one day he walked into a manager’s office, and while they were chatting he looked into an open desk drawer, and in the drawer were uncashed paychecks. Raj asked the manager, Mike, why he hadn’t cashed them? Mike said “I saw your wife crying that day. I knew it was payday. And my wife has a job, so I figured the company would make good later.” Mike had not told Raj, and Raj hadn’t known, and Raj had not yet figured out why his previous payroll hadn’t bounced.

That’s a definition of loyalty that hit home.

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