One of my core values is to tell the truth, so I have a confession to make. I once deliberately lied to a client, and it had some surprising consequences.
It was 2009 and I was visiting the Philippines to deliver a series of presentations and workshops organised by the Philippines Franchising Association (PFA), in association with their Convention. While the schedule was grueling, I was well looked after by an assistant called Joy. Her job was to keep me safe, arrange transportation to and from the Convention, and ensure I arrived on time and in good shape for each event. Joy had given me a small phone so she could text me to stay in touch and keep me updated.
Knowing how the Filipino people love their music, I managed to insert some guitar playing and singing into my convention keynote address. This grabbed the attention of an Australian expatriate, Steve, who had been in the audience, and he offered to take me out on the town that night to hear some live music. After a busy week, it was just what the doctor ordered. But there was a problem. I had agreed to attend the official Convention reception as the guest of honour.
Instead of telling them I had a better offer, I explained in serious tones to Joy and my hosts, that I was deeply exhausted and would need to rest for the following day's workshop. Joy expressed concern for my welfare and arranged a car to drop me back at the hotel with instructions that no one was to bother me.
A few hours later Steve swung by to pick me up and we headed out to a place called RJs Bar, a 60's style music lounge. Steve explained that the owner, Ramon “RJ” Jacinto, was a friend of his, and a celebrity in the Philippines with his own band, and his own range of signature guitars.
When we arrived the place was rocking. RJ's band was on stage and people were dancing and grooving to the music. After the band took a break, Steve said he was going off to find RJ. He returned 10 minutes later with his arm around a cool-looking Filipino guy with brushed-back hair and a big smile. He extended his hand. “Hi man, I’m RJ. I hear you can play and you like 60's music. Would you like to jam with us?" I beamed back at him. “That would be amazing.”
Sure enough, halfway during the next set, RJ announced, “It is now my pleasure to invite on stage a special friend from Australia, Mr. Greg Nathan. Let's give it up for Greg!" Steve had organised a guitar and amp for me, and within minutes we were all jamming to a version of Santana’s Oye Como Va.
The club had TV monitors around the walls which were screening the band and the audience dancing. I figured these were just part of the venue's setup, so I smiled and hammed it up for the camera crew.
After the jam, I was in the middle of thanking Steve for such a fun night, when a text appeared on my phone. It was from Joy. “Mr. Greg, I cannot believe my eyes. Was that you playing guitar at RJs?" I looked at Steve. "How does she know what I am doing?" He laughed. “You were just on national TV. This Friday night segment from RJ’s is televised live around the Philippines and is one of the most popular programs of the week.”
Shocked and a little abashed, I texted back, "Yes it was me." I waited. "Everybody has seen you. They are all texting me. Mr. Greg are you okay? Should I come and get you?" After some reassuring texts backwards and forwards Joy left me in peace, although feeling a little embarrassed.
The following morning, I tentatively entered the Convention site where my final workshop was to be held. How would I be received? Would they forgive me for lying to them? As I walked past the many display stands, people were smiling and pointing at me. I saw Joy coming towards me and squirmed. “Mr. Greg we all saw you last night. You were awesome. You are our rock star!” I took this as forgiveness and breathed a sigh of relief.
While I am a little ashamed at being exposed for my misleading and deceptive conduct, I reckon on this occasion it was worth it. And after reading this, my staff in Australia will now understand why the PFA team still refer to me as "Mr. Greg, the rock star".
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