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Calls can get info; faces get action

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in Leaders & Managers,Leadership Skills

“We do business with partners in 150 countries. In 2014, we were checking a partner’s bank account in Japan when we noticed that $3 million was missing.

“We called our partner in Japan and he said they’d look into it. Two days later, the money was back in the account. But the partner wouldn’t give me a satisfactory explanation for what had happened. Despite my pressing them repeatedly to tell me why this had occurred, I never got anywhere and they stopped returning my calls.

“I wrote a strongly worded letter demanding ‘full disclosure.’ Before sending it, I asked a colleague in Japan to review it. She told me not to send it because it was too legal and impersonal—and it would end the relationship.

“Instead of sending the letter, two days later I was on a plane to Tokyo to meet with the partner. As I prodded him for an explanation, he was so anxious that he was literally sweating buckets. I kept asking, ‘What happened?’

“Finally, he told me one of his employees was involved in fraudulent activity. The company discovered it and replaced the missing money.

“I left with an explanation, and that allowed me to continue working with the partner for the time being. Having a face-to-face conversation helped me get to the bottom of the situation.”

— Nicole Sahin, founder & CEO, Globalization Partners, Boston, Mass.

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