“Mark, you’re like a shark,” a client told me last week. I was surprised and a little hurt. Sharks have a notorious reputation.

Sharks are thought of as predators who circle swimmers and boaters, killing and maiming the defenseless and unaware. The Great White’s portrayal in the movie “Jaws” strikes fear in a coastal community and continues to scare ocean tourists today. “Shark” is also the name given to the worst type of business person who unscrupulously exploits or swindles others. The very thought of a client calling me a shark with this type of intent made my blood boil.

I have been raised to be honest and fair in my dealing with clients. As a business person I have always made the satisfaction of my clients my top priority and prided myself on my success in that regard. I couldn’t believe my client would make that comparison. After all, he and I have known each other forever.

As a client he’s hired my company to replace his siding, doors and windows. We’ve improved his outdoor living spaces with awnings, decks and patios. I was at his home discussing an ongoing front entry project including a new covered porch and sidewalk when he told me I was like a shark. I guess he could tell by the look on my face I was offended.

“No, no! Don’t misunderstand me,” he said. “I don’t mean you are a shark in a bad way. I meant it in two good ways.

“First of all, did you know sharks always have to keep moving? If they don’t keep moving they drown. They never stop. That’s like you. You are always moving and juggling a hundred different projects. I see it with the jobs you do for me. You’re active through the entire process – from design to cleanup and it shows with the finished project.

“You’re also like a shark because you’re the expert at what you do. Back in the old days we used to call a guy who knows everything a shark. You know, like a ‘Pool Shark.’ You know everything about what you do and that’s why I can trust you when I hire you for my projects.”

You can imagine my relief. He wasn’t calling me an unscrupulous predator; he was telling me I was an active expert… Who knew being called a “shark” could be a good thing?

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