I’ve learned a long time ago NOT to trust my gut when it comes to people. Whatever entrepreneurial spirit and business acumen I have, it’s often been negated when it comes to fully assessing people. That’s why I gave up trusting my own instincts and instead rely on others (more often than not my wife or our President Colleen) when it comes to people. Both of them have a spider like 6th sense and a bullshit meter that’s off the charts! Today though I think I did pretty well on my own.

Last Friday was the end of many of the seasonal jobs for a number of workers here. Most of them start in February and run each year till right about now when we start slowing down at Aquascape. About half the guys get other jobs and return again next year and the other half are new each year. One new guy this year was very friendly with me from the start (almost too friendly) I liked him immediately but I’ve been burned before by “overly friendly” people so I was weary. <how sad>

He came to me today looking for his check that’s scheduled to be paid on Thursday claiming he was broke and homeless and needed it now. He even went so far as to claim his step mother died last week and he was trying to raise the money for the funeral. Sad, sad story and one in the past I might have bit on.

But I didn’t. Instead I told him the truth. That I truly felt bad for him but 99% of the time someone is sitting in my office in the situation he is in and saying the things he’s saying drugs or alcohol were at play somewhere in the equation. As I suspected he swore up and down that wasn’t the case.

I still didn’t bite but I did throw him a line back. Since he said he had been staying at the homeless shelter I told him to have his case officer call me and I will take it from there. I figured that would be the end of that. Amazingly he came back 15 minutes later and told me the Case officer could not speak to me legally regarding his case. I asked him for his case officers name and number and I said lets call him together. Without bating an eye he gave me the number and we called. True to form the case officer confirmed his story that he could not legally disclose any information about his case. But I pushed on and asked what their policies are regarding evicting someone from their facility. The case officer read between the lines and said more than I needed to know confirming my suspicions regarding substance abuse.

Why am I sharing this long story with you? Because I’ve had this sort of talk so many times before with people working for me that as an owner of a company in sure I’m not alone. And as sad as these stories are, and as much as you would like to help, the reality is you can’t help someone till their willing and able to help themselves. Most aren’t willing or able to do that.

As I walked him out of the building for a second time letting him know his check will be ready on Thursday and wishing him luck I noticed something. He didn’t turn to shake my hand or even give me a fist pump like he did every time I had seen him in the past.

The gig was up, and he knew it. As an owner I never loan out money and I always get others opinions on people now before I get involved with them. I am naturally far too trusting and always see an opportunity in every situation. Trial and error though exposed my errors a long time ago.

I’m sad for this guy and the others in the past caught up in these kinds of awful situations. But I’m wiser because of what I’ve been through with them and glad I have others around me to see what I don’t when I’m not.

As one owner to another I hope you have a gut on people or someone that does around you just the same.