“If it weren’t for customers and employees, I would love my job.”   Okay, I said it but I never really believed it.  I set out to write a thought piece on all the people that revolved through the Atlas doors in Houston, Chicago, Kansas City and Calgary.   The only deep thought I could really come up with is that good or bad, our paths crossed and we can never change it.  Mostly I think about them as family (perhaps distant family in some cases).   For a small group of others, I would run them over with my car.   Laying in bed on Sunday nights, I would think to myself, “what kind of fucked up thing is going to happen this week?” The people RARELY disappointed.

Reflections by business owners start like this. “I couldn’t have done it without my _______.”  In my case, I couldn’t have done it without four of the following—use your imagination to figure out mine.

A highly functioning brokerage desk is ridiculously fun to work on.   Fast paced, money driven, caviar, champagne, “challenges” and bets—it’s truly a full-contact team sport. (I should do a post about the difference between challenges and bets!) There was ALWAYS something to laugh or fight about.   Frankly, an healthy/unhealthy amount of both happened everyday. When you put 35 brokers in a room something crazy was bound to happen.   Luckily our customers gave us an almost infinite and constant stream of new material. SO MANY STORIES!!   “Remember the good times.”

It wasn’t always fun and games.   Without going to deep, always make sure you are listening.   When the laughter goes away you will hear it. Figure the “why” out FAST.   Most likely you’ve got a cancer on your desk, and you need to kill it quickly. Be fast, furious, and decisive—I was none of those and it almost killed us.

My partners and I always* sought to do the right thing for people even when we knew it would not be reciprocated. Always*.

*There is still one ongoing disagreement between the partners. It had to do with the termination of an employee.   While I don’t disagree with the business decision, I still vigorously disagree with the unexplainable vengeance of how it was executed.   This person was one of my favorite employees and someone I considered a friend and a friend of the firm.  

LESSON LEARNED:   Do the right thing for people all the time, but remember, no good deed goes unpunished.   You will be punished.

I’ve spent a shit load of time thinking about the People of Atlas.   It was the people that made Atlas great.   God, I fucking miss that place.

Three Fun Facts:

I knew we were growing up when we had our first interoffice marriage.   They have two kids now.

Hearing, “Atlas was the best place I ever worked.” Is one of the highest compliments you could give me.

The Atlas drug test was a written test, you had 30 days to prepare, and the answer was “No, I don’t do drugs.” People frequently failed.

About the art:   Jeff Koons Gazing Ball series printed at Two Palms Gallery.   If felt “Ruben” then. It’s all “Manet” now.   See the full series at Two Palms NYC.