Good Friends

Posted on January 7, 2009


I am sorry for this very long post. Some things require more to do right.

The most difficult part of my job is the temporary nature of it. As a consultant, I am sent to various companies and am constantly working with different teams of people. I find that I always form tight relationships with the people I am working with – both Ernst & Young personnel and clients. Despite being an introvert who has trouble with introductions, I love getting to know people. Everywhere I go I meet great people, and I never feel like I have enough time with them. Just as I start to think of them as a good friend, I move on to whatever is next. This happens to me repeatedly. Federated Audit Team, German Carve Out Team, Hexion, Washington Hospital, Allegheny County Audit, etc.

I used to think that it was because I was very lucky that I always found great people everywhere I went. That it was some sort of fluke and I would likely run out of that luck some time soon. Now, I think that there are great people everywhere who respond well to being treated with respect. I follow some simple rules that seem to work for me. I always try to give more than I receive. I remember that everyone is human and everyone has bad days that do not define who they are. Everyone wants to be listened to without comment sometimes. Honesty is everything, but there are different ways of saying the same thing. Everyone wants to be happy and see their family do well. Small gestures of kindness are more important than words can describe. Everyone wants to hear that they are a good person.

Starting on my first day in Uruguay, the employees of Endeavor worked hard to make me feel welcome. They are such a great crew; a perfect team. The amount of work that this small group can put out is incredible. They invited me to many Endeavor events which were the highlight of my Uruguay experience, including the ranch at San Pedro de Timote, movie night to see “Blindness”, the Chivitos party, and many more. They are making a huge impact on the entrepreneurial community in Uruguay and should be very proud of what they have already accomplished.

Edgardo was my entertaining morning cab driver. Each morning was an adventure as we explored new routes through the city and Edgardo helped me to improve my Spanish. Edgardo is a great example of how interesting it can be to get to know people who you think you have nothing in common with. I consider Edgardo to be a great friend and I look forward to seeing him again on my return trip to Uruguay. On my last day with Edgardo, he brought me to his home, a neat and tidy house in the north of Montevideo. His whole family was there, including his very friendly dog. Edgardo’s wife presented me with homemade cookies (excellent!!!) and I traded some English words with his kids. It was really special and saying goodbye to Edgardo that day broke my heart.

Martha Muzio
Uruguay is a Spanish speaking country with limited English skills. I knew that this would be my best opportunity to pick up a new language. When I landed in Uruguay, I knew about six Spanish words, so I sought out some lessons. It takes a special sort of person to have the patience to teach a beginner a new language. It is such a daunting task that it is impossible to not be disappointed by the slow progress that students invariably make. I was very lucky to meet Martha Muzio, who came to my office twice a week to try to pound some Spanish into my head. I am so happy with how much progress I made by working with Martha. She made the lessons fun and packed with information. Martha put a lot of herself into the lessons, which made them so much more interesting. I really looked forward to our lessons and I miss them now. Muchas muchas gracias Martha! If you find yourself in Uruguay and would like to learn some Spanish, send me an email and I will be happy to give you Martha’s contact information.

Sheraton Montevideo Employees
When living in a hotel for an extended period of time, it is important that you do what you can to make it your home. I hung up pictures, rearranged the furniture, bought a tea maker, and set up book shelves and a kitchen area. There are many things out of your control though, so you are forced to rely heavily on the staff of the hotel. The staff of the Sheraton in Montevideo are the best of the best. They are highly dedicated to superior customer service, but they are also warm people who lead interesting lives. They learned my name, always greeted me with a smile, and talked to me when I was lonely. It was so nice to be so spoiled and I wish that I could do more to thank them.

Caro and Duncan
I had the great fortune of meeting Carolina and Duncan while in Uruguay. They both live in Montevideo and work for CEPA, the entrepreneur that Trusha worked for. Carolina is so kind, has a great sense of humor, and has a calming, strong influence. She yelled at me when my jokes were not funny and otherwise made everything better. Duncan is a rugby-playing, nice guy who I really bonded to. Duncan is a great friend and I will miss his wise counsel. I am teaching him to be a good Buddhists and he introduced me to all kinds of great music. It is rare that you run into people who you feel instantly bonded to, but this is what happened with both Carolina and Duncan. My Uruguay experience would not have been nearly as fun without them.

Laura and Trusha
Laura and Trusha represent the best that Ernst & Young has to offer. They are brilliant, very self-motivated, and know how to work incredibly hard even when no one is watching. Both Laura and Trusha are very human and are defined not by their work but by caring about other people. They have been there when I have been overwhelmed with stress and when I just needed someone to talk through a problem. We have shared so many good dinners and new experiences together. They laughed at most of my jokes and they made me feel good about myself. Together we traveled all over this part of the world, and we really did see it all. We watched out for each other and kept each other safe and sane. I do not know how I would have made it through this experience without them. It is really hard right now to imagine them getting on a plane this week and them disappearing from my everyday life.

I believe that my life works in circles. I find that every time I say a final goodbye to a person or place I always wind up in front of them again. Saying goodbye is important though. It is healthy and a natural part of all relationships. Ultimately, the process of saying goodbye makes you take stock of the relationship and the other person and allows you to fully appreciate them.

Posted in: Philosophy, Uruguay