A unicorn

By: Lisa Marie Koebcke

Summer is finally here, and that could mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people. You might be in the working park, and the start of summer is just the start of a hotter Mondays. You could also be in the vacation park, where the start of summer means relaxation, breaths of fresh air, and fun with your friends and family while the aching worries about going back to work at the end of it all perpetually linger in the back of your mind. Or you could be in between, where you just have hot Mondays full of perpetual worrying.

But as they say, attitude is everything, and maintaining the right attitude is key to surviving both a lot of hot summers and a lot of hot client relationships. Client relationships can be kind of a touchy subject when it comes to some people, and handling them turns into this odd balancing charade where you don’t want to overstep, but you also don’t want to let it spiral out of your control, and then missing your mark completely could sometimes be a death sentence in an already delicate dynamic.

One of the best methodologies that I personally employ to make sure that both my clients and I are happy has to be that of a man that I met, coincidentally, over a summer when I was younger.

My family and I used to go to Myrtle Beach often, where I met one of the most influential people in my entire life, H. Lee Brown. He was one hell of a man to be running the show, his charming personality and passion for people instantly won over mine and most others’ hearts. Unlike the other attractions, which we would visit once on our trip, Slots for Fun was a stop we would make to end many nights throughout our stay. Each visit, we got to know H. Lee more and more, and while my grandparents and mother were building a friendship, unbeknownst to me, I was being introduced to someone who would profoundly shape my future.

He would take me aside and spent hours showing me different games, teaching me the tricks of Ski Ball, and telling me insider information about how to get the biggest bang for my buck. And little old me had her eyes set on a giant unicorn perched high-up on his wall of prizes. Sadly, even if I stayed day and night for our two-week trip, I am not sure I would have had the tickets I needed. When we went to say our goodbye to H. Lee that week, he jumped up on the counter, grabbed the unicorn, and put it in my hands – a gift I have to this day.

A unicorn is known for being a majestic, infinite, and magnificent creature. I didn’t realize it then, but that unicorn would end up symbolizing a lot more than a nice gesture. It would represent the man I would never forget.

See, each trip back over the years we would meet up with H. Lee and he would enamor me with the different ventures, investments, and adventures that he was a part of. I didn’t grow up under the influence of entrepreneurs, so listening and watching H. Lee talk about his businesses was groundbreaking for me. Much of what he said didn’t just apply to business, it could apply to just about any field, any topic, and any idea, because much of what he taught me was about people and the value of relationships.

He had a unique mindset. He was a unicorn.


H. Lee wasn’t someone who took relationships lightly. He taught me that one of the most important things to remember in business is just how valuable the people around you are. He lived by this idea to the point of maintaining extremely prominent walls in the OD Pavilion, on which he hung dozens of pictures of people that had influenced him throughout his life. One day he asked me to send a personal photograph of myself in my graduation gown, and one of my brother in his police uniform, to commemorate us on this wall. Me and my brother, children who did nothing more but spend time with him in his arcade, got a spot on his wall next to marketing gurus and business figureheads that had changed his life forever. H. Lee passed late last year, and I wish I told him the impact he had on my life.

I went into business because of him, and every day when I’m working with a client, branding a company, or working with my team on a project, I keep the lessons he taught me at the core of everything I do. And every time I meet someone new I am always overjoyed, because in that moment I remember H. Lee and my time back at that arcade, and remember that they might change my life in ways I may never imagine.

I find that starting work with a client is a lot like starting a new summer; it could mean a lot of different things for a lot of different people. For me, my attitude is always the one that channels the lessons that H. Lee Brown taught me all those years ago, and I come into every relationship with the intent for them to put them on my wall of influences, and for them to put me on theirs’.

It’s good to start everything with a goal in mind, and if you begin your next client relationship with the aforementioned one in your sights, then you have a lot better chance of hitting that mark than if you never thought of it at all. Because at the end of the day, isn’t that what we all want? To know that we’ve changed people’s lives, and to change the lives of others in positive, meaningful ways?

Start the summer with a goal in mind too. Rather, start the summer with the goal in mind, the goal of having that summer influence you in a positive way, and influencing the summer in a positive way as well. Do that, and you’re already taking the first step to making that goal a reality.