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Opinion

Beyond Networking: Developing a Pack Means Celebrating Their Wins as Yours

Humans are pack animals, writes business development guru Randy Thompson of Ryan Cos., and in the working world, that means we have a powerful opportunity to help one another.
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When I began working at Cushman & Wakefield, I met a young broker named Ward Richmond who worked under Mike Wyatt, former executive managing director. Now, this was well before I started exploring how we humans work, but in hindsight, back then, Ward and I were in the “Friends of Mike Wyatt” pack. We knew who each other were, but we didn’t know each other. Shortly after that, Ward left for Colliers, so our paths rarely crossed.

When I left C&W in 2019, I wanted to connect with Ward. I set up a lunch and had a great time getting to know him. I learned Ward was an accomplished musician—a shared interest, as I played the drums. What began as a typical business lunch quickly morphed into a music appreciation session where we talked songwriting, songwriters, musical styles, favorite artists, etc. I finally got to know Ward, and he got to know me. We weren’t only in the “Friends of Mike Wyatt” pack anymore, we were in the “Musician” pack.

It didn’t stop there. As I was preparing to leave C&W, a good friend of mine, Kristina Rodriguez, went to work with Ward at Colliers. A couple months later, I took Kristina to lunch where she mentioned Ward was writing a biography. That gave me an idea. I wrote Ward a note, revealing my own background as a fiction author. I invited him to lunch.

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Randy Thompson

Not long after that, I received a note from Ward, expressing excitement. He wanted to meet for lunch. So now, in addition to the “Musician” pack, we are also in the “Writer” pack.

Each time humans make such connections, every time we discover the many ways in which we share common interests, the closer we become. I am no longer a casual, former work associate; instead, I am a friend who shares several common interests with Ward. 

Pack animals have a powerful instinct to help our pack mates, because when my pack mates win, I do too, and vice versa.In the working world, this instinct often presents itself in personal referrals: 

“The broker I worked with was awesome.”  

“Got a Jeep you want to customize? I got a guy.”  

But there are other times when a packmate simply needs a lift. Life happens, feelings get hurt, disappointments happen, we get a bit lost. At times like these, packs step up.

Last year, I met an extraordinary young professional with an incredible story. I’ll call her Madison. Madison came from a broken home. She was the only member of her immediate family who graduated from high school. When she presented her diploma to her father, he said, “Good for you. Go get a job and start paying me rent, or get out.”  

So, she left. 

Madison worked her way through junior college where she earned all As. After graduating from junior college, she was accepted into Southern Methodist University. Her academic career at SMU was stellar. 

But after college, the position she landed had its challenges. Over a recent lunch, much to her disappointment (and much to my shock), she shared with me that her career options were limited where she was, and that it was time to move on. I could see the pain in her eyes. As Madison’s pack mate, I had to do something. As we left the restaurant, Madison saw my new ride, a Jeep Gladiator Mojave. With a wide smile, she confessed she had a thing for the old Ford Broncos and hoped to have one someday.  

I recently read Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara. This book is full of great lessons, and one I latched onto was this: “It isn’t the lavishness of the gift that counts, but its pricelessness.”

That night, I went on Amazon and found a 1/16 scale, 1969 Bronco tricked out for desert running. I ordered it right away, and then my team and I put together a letter for Madison:

A career is a long road, and there are often unexpected bumps and hairpin turns along the way.  There are setbacks and flats and fender-benders. There are slick corners requiring a steady hand lest you spin out of control. There are steep climbs that take a toll and may even demand you crawl just a bit. There can be long, lonely downhills that wear out your physical and mental brakes.

Often, you will ford streams, which will sometimes soak your feet, but you must never allow them to dampen your spirit or waterlog your fortitude. There will be warm, sunny days when you feel like moving through life with the top down.  But there will also be storm laden days that may send you reaching for the emergency brake in a last-ditch effort to stay out of a ditch!

But know this: no matter the circumstances, you have people who believe in you, and friends who have your back.  So, with all that in mind, we wanted to get a little something to help you along your way, to keep you out of ruts and moving forward on the bumpy road of life. Great things are in store for you, Madison, of that, we are certain. And we very much look forward to enjoying those days with you as well.

Your Ryan buddies:

Daniela, Kelly, and Randy

In response, I got the following note from my pack mate, Madison:

“Receiving the letter and the Bronco made me cry for the first time out of pure gratitude and appreciation that I’ve never felt so strongly before.” 

This is the pack in action. Madison will be a success. Her pack mates and I will see to it. Case closed.  

And by the way, if any of you would like to meet Madison, let me know. I would be honored to introduce you to my pack mate, an amazing young professional with a boundless future.  

Go help someone. I promise you’ll get back more than you give. 

This CRE Opinion piece was written by Randy Thompson, vice president of national build-to-suits for Ryan Cos.

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Randy Thompson

Randy Thompson

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Randy Thompson brings decades of hands-on leadership experience to the position of Vice President of National Build-to-Suit, a role in which…
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