Oct 142010

I work for an entrepreneur. Our first venture together, he hired me for a company of which he was the CEO, and another guy was president. He sold that company, and years later rehired me where I am now. The president of our previous company is now a client.

Point is, my boss is a master networker. He has friendships with lots of interesting people. Many of his friends are clients. Whenever he engages in a business venture, he thinks of friends and former co-workers/clients/employees first.

He just got on a plane to go to the wedding of the daughter of the sales director of that first company they even got a custom wedding ring for her from a great jewelry online. The former president/now client is also attending the wedding. Their ongoing friendship, whether or not they’re currently in business together, is intrinsic to the very nature of what makes them successful men.

I’ll say it again: Roger had no damn excuse.


  25 Responses to ““I invited you to my daughter’s wedding!””

  1. You’re right…he didn’t.
    “I don’t know what happened to the invite” (paraphrasing here) is a couple steps BELOW “I mailed you the check.”
    It’s a major fail on his part, and he can’t blame anyone else. EVERY wedding I’ve helped plan (mine, family, friends) involved the gathering of “these are the people I need to invite” lists. It was up to HIM to give Mona a list of the important clients that needed to be included.
    Further, I would add that as SDCP’s major client, LGJ should have gotten a “we didn’t get an RSVP..did the invite not arrive” call. (If it had actually been sent, which we know it wasn’t.)

  2. Well, actually, he does have an excuse: he doesn’t like the guy. Because…well, who does? Would you trust that slimeball not to fuck up your daughter’s wedding? Can he ever be in a room, any room, and not call attention to himself in the worst possible way? And gods know who he’d have hit on. Of course, considering when the wedding happened, there was a good chance he wouldn’t show, but nobody could have known that when the invites went out.

    Problem is, when you have a business relationship with this guy, he’s going to completely suck the oxygen out of you sooner or later, even more so if your company is umbilically dependent on his patronage. Even his company knows that; that’s why his father has largely taken him out of the decision-making process. He’s toxic. A large agency that doesn’t need LS’s business as much isn’t going to take anywhere near as much shit from him. Our art director doesn’t want to sleep with you? Get bent!

    On the other hand, does Roger even have a relationship at all with any other clients but LS? (Other than getting Pond’s Guy drunk against his will, that is.) We see him saying “we” should be going after General Motors and United Air Lines, but what’s stopping him from making the overture if he thinks it can be done? Seems like the old man has lost his taste for other people’s boots.

  3. Well, he did spend all of 1964 writing a Very Important Book *cough*.

  4. Roger’s not getting married, Margaret is. Does the bride give a flying f___ about keeping her father’s client happy? Why should she? My attitude is SO 21st century. But I understand how things were different then. . .

  5. The fact that Roger mentions this blunder at this very moment tells me that they had already talked about it, possibly because Lee Garner Jr had complained about not being invited. So, whatever our personal opinion about this social and business rule, and about Lee, it is clear that both Roger and Lee Garner agree that Roger absolutely should have invited Lee, and that not doing so was a mistake of the first order.

  6. “I invited you to my daughter’s wedding” and oh, your husband died? “I was out of town”. Lame-o, Roger. Have some cheeze-whiz with your whine. (Say, Ken, know anybody at Kraft Foods?)

  7. I agree, Meowser, I think Roger didn’t want Lee at the wedding but later on claimed that he invited him. (Just a theory, anyway–obviously there’s no way to know for sure.)

    On the other hand, does Roger even have a relationship at all with any other clients but LS?

    Hard to say. He had other clients before they started their new agency, but then when they were forming the new agency, he said, “Well, I can’t take anyone else with me, or Lee Garner won’t think he’s special.”

    When they started the agency, they had Pete’s accounts, and later Ken’s accounts (and Pond’s, thanks to Freddy). Possible Roger sat in on some of Pete’s meetings..not sure.

    and yeah, he like to use the royal “we,” but as Pete recently pointed out, you have to go out there and try to get clients, not just talk about it.

  8. #4 Andi I wondered the exact same too. It wasn’t Roger’s wedding, who was he to invite people?! However, correct me if I’m wrong, didn’t Mona tell the daughter that Roger was paying for it and that’s why she had to let Jane come? If Roger was paying they couldn’t stop him from inviting Garner Jr., I guess. Besides he probably would have given her an expensive wedding present, just to prove he could afford it.

    • Parents invite people to their kids’ weddings, and use their bill-paying power to make it happen. Even today. The story I told is of my boss going to his colleague’s daughter‘s wedding. He and I discussing the wedding was what prompted the post.

  9. Business relationships are rarely true friendships, in the sense of a friendship given with no strings attached. Even when people have friends as clients, those relationships fundamentally change. When business is involved, there is always a quid pro quo.

    The only way you find out the depth of these friendships is when the business part ends. In a week, a month, six months, many of these people disappear. The cord has been cut, the bond loosened.

    Lee Garner Jr knew he was a client, not a friend. Even if Roger had invited him, he wouldn’t have gone. But he damned well would have expected Roger to show up at HIS daughter’s wedding. With a great big check.

  10. At least Roger had Lucky Strike. What the hell has Bert Cooper brought in during the entire run of the show to date?

  11. I’d have to watch the scene again, but I thought the no wedding invite was more Roger grasping at straws than a main reason why LGjr. was cutting ties with him. Fact was Sterling kept that account for thirty years, which tells me he knew how to massage all those involved, not the least being LGjr. Huge accounts can be lost every year, or at least every contract renewal period, and some reps’ relationships don’t last a tenth, sometimes even a thirtieth, as long as Sterling’s with LS.

    To me, his big goofs came down to having a) no contingency plan (though this falls on the other partners as well — except arguably Pete), and b) keeping it a secret for the few weeks he did. (When, as Joan rightly pointed out, others in the firm may have pitched in to try to do something — or if nothing else had a few weeks’ knowledge that the desperation clock was ticking.)

    Should Roger have known earlier? Depends. If LS was unhappy with SCDP (or even SC), then the answer is a big, fat yes. If, on the other hand, their reason for leaving was exactly as LGjr said it was — then Roger Sterling, and by extension SCDP, may well have been the proverbial last to know. Happens quite often, especially when it comes to a client that wants something that you simply don’t offer — in this case, a larger, national firm.

    But there is no denying that Roger should have been spinning that Rolodex long before the LGjr left him for dead. Sterling seemed to bring his SC work ethic/entitled attitude to SCDP, which given the latter’s small size, could not afford it. He should have been sniffing for new accounts a bit more, a’la Campbell and Cosgrove. I’m still hoping he will.

    #2 Meowser — enjoyed your post.

  12. #2 Meowser — Great insight here! Somebody like Don or Coop should have gotten that Roger was “loosing his taste for boot licking” before things got to this point. If LS is the #1 client, all of the exec staff should have been way up his pipe. Someone said it in an earlier post, but Roger needs to take on a consulting role now.

  13. Whenever the topic of Margaret Sterling’s wedding came up, other than bitching about it, Roger always seemed disengaged.

    About the only thing he got right was his toast at the reception.

    Forgetting to invite Lee Garner, Jr. or simply blowing him off wouldn’t be too surprising.

  14. Should Roger have known earlier? Depends. If LS was unhappy with SCDP (or even SC), then the answer is a big, fat yes.

    Honestly, they ALL should have known, as soon as Lee Jr made that comment at the Christmas party wondering why SCDP wasn’t doing the kind of work for LS as they did for Glo-Coat. But Roger especially should have noted some dissatisfaction. In the intervening months, did anyone at SCDP feel the need to do something about that to appease an increasingly wary client.

    And then LS accuses SCDP of padding expenses – did anyone address that?

    They ALL ignored the signs, if you ask me. But of course, the onus of that falls primarily on Roger, whose only job was to keep LS and Lee Jr happy.

  15. pdxmadwatcher, interesting question about Bert. He’s never been an account man. He brought a lot of money to the table, but also a lot of connections. Atherton, the Wall Street Journal, boards of prestigious organizations, and so on.

    But he mostly brought seed money, and his office-less-ness is an expression of his overall uselessness.

  16. Lucky Strike wasn’t lost because either of the Garners was unhappy–but because LS was really part of a larger corporation with larger goals. As time goes on, won’t more “family” companies become part of conglomerations run by bean counters?

    That’s the wave of the future. Roger definitely didn’t get it. Pete might….

  17. #17
    Ditto. If it was up to Lee, he’d continue the association, if only to maintain his sadistic thrall over SCDP. Now he’ll have fewer excuses to visit NYC and its fleshpots.
    I can see him now, prowling the luxurious gay nightlife of Raleigh NC: “Ya sure got a purty mouth.”

  18. I think also the fact is that Roger just hasn’t wanted to do it anymore- not since his heart attack and leaving Mona. He was willing enough to be a figurehead and then to be bought and sold by the Brits. As he put it (paraphrasing) “I was happy enough until you talked me into this amateur production which I only did out of friendship.”

    Roger has seen the end of his professional (and mortal, and married) life and realized that it no longer provided any real satisfaction – which is not a good place to be for an accounts man. The truth may well be that he only did it “for Don” in which case its no real wonder that he couldn’t face hitting the rolodex. For everybody else, who are still totally caught up in the work=self paradigm, Roger’s attitude makes no sense, if he had the courage, he probably should simply have resigned and tried to find something meaningful to do with the rest of his life.

  19. About Bert. Remember, he and Roger’s father built Sterling Cooper, a company that was founded during the 1920’s boom, survived the Depression and WWII and lived to enjoy the prosperity of the 50’s and early 60’s. That’s not an easy thing to do and I doubt Bert just sat around making connections during the entirety of the company’s existence.

    I’m sure he was an ambitious Pete-type accounts man back in his day but that time has passed and he eventually rose to a chairman emeritus status, which while prestigious, really doesn’t have much to do with the day-to-day workings of an agency. He joined SCDP b/c he didn’t want to retire and die quickly like many of his peers, not because he wanted the opportunity to prove himself. He’s already done that. Whether or not SCDP succeeds or fails, he still the guy who created the very successful SC.

    The old man did way more than Roger ever will.

  20. #17 “Roger definitely didn’t get it. Pete might….” Lane certainly does.

  21. Um, Roger only had one account- that he inherited. I think the point of Roger’s story this season was that he’s never had to actually work for ab account. Any account. It was handed to him. It came with the name on the door. And Roger put no effort into cultivating it. He took Lucky Strike for granted. Just look at how he handled the situation. He was in denial at first, but even with a few extra weeks, he does nothing. He lies to his partners when he pretends to call Lee. He was supposed to go to Raleigh but ends ip in a hotel in Manhattan. He tries to take his mind off of it at Joanie’s.
    What does that say about Roger? Well, to me it says that Roger doesn’t know how to do his job. He doesn’t know how to do it because he gas never tried. He is a failure not because he failed but because he never gave himself a chance.

  22. Exactly. It’s the relationship that matters, not the business. And ironically BECAUSE it’s the relationship that matters, you’ll do good business together. It’s like a Moebius strip or something.

  23. Ditto. If it was up to Lee, he’d continue the association, if only to maintain his sadistic thrall over SCDP. Now he’ll have fewer excuses to visit NYC and its fleshpots.

    He can still come to NYC, his new agency is BBDO. Their headquarters are in New York.

  24. Business friendships usually end as soon as the business relationship ends. I have seen instance of close apparent friendships with clients come to a screeching halt once the client gets laid off or forced out when the company gets taken over. Lee Garner expected too much as a client–not only with Roger but with Sal, too. Roger didn’t do anything wrong as far as Lucky Strike was concerned, other than letting his client treat him like a doormat.

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