As Jonathan and I mentioned on our podcast on succession planning a few weeks ago, our patriarch and founding father, Walt Moeling, formally retired at the end of 2016. However, his knowledge and influence continue to permeate almost everything we do (and he still has the same office down the hall). One of the ways that influence can be seen continues to be in our use of stories originally told to us by Walt. Of course, his storytelling ability has been noticed, including by the press. Several years ago, as part of our succession planning, we began chronicling some of those stories. What follows is what I wrote two years ago…
In early 2010, our clients were dropping like flies, with one or two clients failing every Friday. Even as one client entered receivership, we were each likely working with three or four others that were on the same path. (Each was a horror movie, and we knew exactly how it would play out, even if our clients held out optimism each time that, for whatever reason, their story would play out differently.)
Walt and I were on the phone with one such client who had just passed the 2% leverage ratio threshold, and was in discussions on next steps. The executives were worried about how their employees would handle the receivership. Walt, as usual, slipped into a story about another (former) client that had been a client for years. Whenever Walt called, the president’s administrative assistant, Nancy, would answer the phone and chat with Walt before tracking down the bank’s president. Walt shared how he had listened as Nancy became increasingly depressed as the bank’s condition had deteriorated.
In his best Southern belle, falsetto, voice, Walt would demonstrate the decreasing pep in Nancy’s voice. From an upbeat “Good Morning, Walt!” to more and more depressing “Oh, Walt, things are hard, but we’re trying.” In the weeks leading up to that client’s receivership, Walt himself became increasingly saddened by Nancy’s stress. Calls now usually started “Oh, Walter, things are rough.”