Why Being Romeo Sucks

still-of-olivia-hussey-and-leonard-whiting-in-romeo-and-juliet-large-picture-12I am outing myself as being somewhat of a Romeo. Hard to believe given my Danny DeVito shape. But it’s true, and here’s why being Romeo sucks.

Settle down! This is NOT an X-rated expose. It’s a story challenging you about who YOU are. Many fine people screw this up. When they do, they hurt others, and themselves. Those hurt keep wondering: “Why? What have I done to you to deserve this?” First, a thought from Oprah Winfrey, and then my explanation:

Lots of people want to ride with you in the limo, but what you want is someone who will take the bus with you when the limo breaks down.

Now- I’m not looking for sympathy here. No need! I’ve never been happier, am having a blast and -literally – all my professional dreams are coming true. It’s this observation of human nature, and the lesson from it, that I want to share.

I quit my big job nine months ago. Since then, some former colleagues and associates who I had supported consistently, relentlessly, loyally for years, who always reached out when under pressure for counsel, a hug and a dose of optimism… have simply dropped me like a hot potato.

You see, I no longer have the power or ability to directly benefit them. I immediately became invisible.

They show me my invisibility by not returning phone calls, or by not turning up to scheduled catch-ups. “Sorry, my daughter was sick,” said one when I called after waiting an hour. Okay! Fair enough. Understood. But could you not have called to let me know? There are several more ‘no show’ examples, all with no phone call to alert me.

I was telling Authentic Guy Mike of the most recent incident, where I realised I’d become Romeo.

I was in a coffee shop near my former offices on the harbour. An ex-colleague walked in – someone I’d mentored for seven years, who’d always call me for an urgent ‘tyres pumping’ session when he needed it. I was on the phone. I waved. He waved. He sat down a few tables away with a friend. My call ended. I was reading the paper. He got up to pay, glanced several times at me, and then turned away and quickly walked out.

Really, J? All those chats we had… all those times you confided your deepest fears to me and I’d give you my very best counsel… all meaningless now because I am no longer the big guy? You were happy to ride with me in the limo, right? Here’s how you made me feel…. and with thanks to Mark Knopfler ….

“You promised me everything, you promised me thick and thin,
Now you just say “Oh Romeo yeah, you know I used to have a scene with him.”

Feeling like Romeo sucks. You feel second rate. It leaves you with a sinking feeling that you’ve been duped all along. Wayne Dyer says how people treat you is their karma, how you react is yours. Fair enough. I react with bewilderment. So be it.

Authentic Guy Mike recalled the day he was fired as CMO of a major company. The boss of his media agency, someone known to me, had called him: “Mike- if you need money to help over the Christmas period, no worries, I’ll transfer it today.” Authentic Guy Mike cried in telling me. He did not need the money, but he’ll never forget the positive intent. I wrote to that media guy, relaxing now in New Zealand, to remind him of the story. He’d forgotten it – how he’d given someone love and heart just when they needed it. He was happy to take the bus ride together.

“The problem is,“ said Authetic Guy Mike, “That many people see us as big, strong, invincible. They don’t think we need company on our bus ride.”

I get that. I’m talking about a simpler authenticity…. about basic, table-stakes, downright entry-level common courtesy and respect. Treat people the way you’d want to be treated. What you will value most when you near the end of your careers will be the relationships you’ve built along the way. Don’t screw them up needlessly. Don’t treat people with disdain and disregard. Particularly those who have stepped up for you. They just don’t deserve it.

If I ever do it to you, tell me- loud and clear. I did it once to Former CEO Client Jeff. He’d always supported me. I should have callled him when he got fired. I didn’t. We bumped into each other a month later. I could see the hurt in his eyes. I was ashamed. I had let him down. I had let me down.

Respect relationships. Treasure them. Show your true colours are consistent and genuine. Your true friends, in business and in life, walk through your door when others are walking out. Never make someone feel like Romeo… “You know, I used to have a scene with him…..”

I know we live in a WIIFM world (What’s In It For Me). Just remember, the most powerful thing in it for you are the relationships you form, nuture and evolve. And for those who haven’t returned my calls or have left me stranded at those coffee shops, stay calm. It’s okay! I know sometimes it can be embarrassing and awkward being with former ‘lovers’. Just remember – if ever you are in trouble, are down, vulnerable or scared, please call me. You see, from my heart, and with thanks to Chrissie Hynde:

“Take me in, into your darkest hour,
And I’ll never desert you.
I’ll stand by you.”


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55 Responses to Why Being Romeo Sucks

  1. Tony November 24, 2015 at 10:24 pm #

    Terrific post Chris! I have been through exactly the same thing and it continues to happen. Stepping away from a big job and going out on my own I found it happens now more than ever. I’ve lost count of the number of “I’ll call you tomorrow”, “we really should catch up for a coffee” or “lets catch up before Christmas”. But from the outside looking in, the original environments now look kind of infantile, trivial and sometimes as shallow as a car park puddle. I also realise that although I enjoyed most of what I did, I wasn’t genuinely happy in the first place. It has helped me embrace the few people who accept me as I am regardless of my circumstances. I have learnt more from people who have absolutely nothing than those whose whole focus was their achievements and hollow success.
    Life has become an awful lot smaller and quieter but so much richer.

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 10:32 am #

      Tad- thanks for the story. Chris

    • Grant November 25, 2015 at 12:13 pm #

      Great sharing Tony, couldn’t agree more! (FYI – Great line… “as shallow as a car park puddle” !) Smaller & quieter is terrific!

    • sean leas December 7, 2015 at 9:53 am #

      Thanks Chris, a sad but true story. Let the lesson be for us to keep nurturing the relationships with no expectation, and trust that one day they will want to ride the bus with us.

      • Chris Savage December 8, 2015 at 10:48 am #

        Thanks Sean!

  2. Carolyn Hyams November 25, 2015 at 10:21 am #

    I’m really saddened by this Chris. These people are showing their true colours. All the more reason to spend more time with the people who are supportive — through thick and thin.

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

      Thanks Carolyn- it’s just a lesson to do the right thing. What goes around comes around.

  3. Michael Bunting November 25, 2015 at 10:24 am #

    Great Post Chris. I agree…treasure relationships – its so hard in Sydney with our busty businesses and family lives, but the examples you give are sad. Glad you are doing well though.

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

      Michael- thanks. Agree. The key is for us all to double check that we’re walking in the room for the people we care about. Chris

  4. david coney November 25, 2015 at 10:30 am #

    How true Oprahs comment is – have had many experiences like that on my current journey. But it is a great learning.


    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      Thanks David.

  5. Craig Middleton November 25, 2015 at 10:44 am #

    Don’t lament them, Chris. You don’t need them. I’d be on your bus!

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:48 pm #

      Craig- yes we used always be on the back seat together I seem to recall from all those years ago! Chris

  6. Clare Robinson November 25, 2015 at 10:45 am #

    Always true words. When you make the leap to something new I wonder if some people can’t face you because they can’t face themselves and their circumstance. You perhaps represent the exit plan they are too afraid to acknowledge or take? Who knows…the main thing is you are 100% true about being awakened to seeing those that will always give you heart and those that will not (who perhaps all along your gut said they will only ride the limo). I seem to remember you continuing to mentor, nurture and support me as I stepped away from the big job. For that I am always grateful. A lesson for us all to keep showing up with heart – timely reminder given I’ve moved a few people back in my diary recently. Thank you.

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      Thanks Clare!!

  7. Paul A November 25, 2015 at 10:54 am #

    yup and may I say thanks for your hello when sitting next to me at a random event; it meant a lot – even more than when you gave me the time of day when were a head honcho… and like your example, I too have spent Christmas without any $ thanks to so-called comrades not paying for the idea I provided that saved their arse… which leads to the question: ‘why is the road to success littered with the bodies of nice people?’

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:49 pm #

      Thanks Paul!!

  8. Jim November 25, 2015 at 10:56 am #

    One of your best Chris, strong EQ as ever

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks Jim- hope we can meet up at some stage in 2016….maybe when I am in Canberra in March. Chris

  9. Grant November 25, 2015 at 11:11 am #

    As always.. great writing Chris!

    Leaving the “Big World” and getting off the merry-go-round (regardless of your level) is still awesome, there are always those who promise to call or catch-up for a coffee and don’t… alas they’ll see the light one day and hopefully reflect on the things that matter, believe me, it’s not the Limo!!

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks Grant!!

  10. Nina November 25, 2015 at 11:53 am #

    Chris – how rude but so true of a lot of people. I hundred percent agree with the need for respect, understanding and at times some compassion. We all need it – but does everyone deserve it? You have, and continue to be exceptional at supporting a lot people – me being a case in point for more than 25 years! Reflect for a while and then stuff ’em! Nina

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:50 pm #

      Thanks Nina!!

  11. Cecelia Haddad November 25, 2015 at 1:42 pm #

    HI Chris, the people that drop out of your life in that way aren’t needed in your life and you are better off without them. I definitely have less friends and people I catch up with now that I did ten years ago but its quality people and quality time. Its a positive not to have those people in your life. By the way, glad I accepted your coffee invitation AND turned up!!!

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      Thanks Cecelia!!

  12. Jenet Depke November 25, 2015 at 2:06 pm #

    Hi Chris

    I was truly delighted to read your insightful and excellent article on “why being Romeo sucks”. I could not agree with you more. Especially, in the society we live in today. As you may recall I have been running a holistic recruitment agency specialising in the creative industry: J.D’s Personnel for 3 decades And it goes without saying that I have evidenced an extremely high level of lack of appreciation from many candidates we reach out to in their hour of need during their job search. Countless hours, days, over many weeks or months sometimes, working tirelessly on their behalf (free of charge) and on some occasions without any financial gain ever if we have been unable to place them in a job for various reasons, if they have found their own job etc. and if they have suddenly decided to take off in a different direction, only to recognize some of these individuals are blind to the investment of time and money which has been incurred on their behalf whilst we worked so hard and diligently to assist them to reach their career goals and dream job. We have a saying these days about these kind of personalities: me first, me second, and me third (with no care factor or respect for others). They simply have short memories.

    Most employers I meet with these days are all complaining about the high level of disrespect from their staff, including their lack of appreciation for the wonderful working atmosphere and all the benefits they are receiving. It is these employers who continue to support these individuals in their hour of need when they need a job.

    What a colourful world we live in!!!

    Like you being a passionate, caring, thoughtful, kindred spirit who reaches out to so many people over a long period of time its clear to me that its somehow forgotten by some people, and the level of respect and care factor has deteriorated enormously in recent years. However, from my experience, all these ungreatful and disrespectful personalities will one day be met with the kind of challenge and a massive setback in their life and then they will wonder why there will be very few sincere, loyal friends or colleagues who will be there for them like you and I have been for them. I certainly will not have my door open to those who have breached their ethics, displayed lack of respect, or displayed a lack of appreciation for all our tireless efforts on their behalf, being so generous with my time, day or night including on a weekend, in their hour of need if they have displayed poor etiquette or breached their ethics. That is when these personalities will realize how cold it is out there alone in the world.

    More importantly, I have a very long memory when it comes to those disrespectful and sad individuals who will be knocking on my door for a job again who displayed such appauling behaviour. And just like you say all the people who have forgotten all the good you have done in their lives (or like I have) because they will not be welcome in my life or when applying for a job with my holistic recruitment agency which operates with the highest benchmarks and a unique point of difference in the recruitment industry. Our linkedin references speaks volumes about our care factor, holistic approach to both our clients and candidates. It’s always a daily joy reaching out to humanity and living life as a humanitarian.

    This kind of mentality you refer to in your article is a far cry from many many years ago when humanity overall operated ethically, professionally, had extremely strong morales, values, respected and appreciated all the good we did in peoples lives and would always return calls, remained respectful and showed their appreciation by sending a thank you card, or an email, or called us because they sincerely valued the relationship and all our precious time and care.

    I still remember our first meeting from years ago when you kindly briefed me on a PR job when you were working for Burson Marsteller, your high level of professionalism still resonates with my own values and principles till this day. You always returned calls and had the care factor in all that you did as a fine leader. It was a joy working closely with you due to your high morale ground you walked on in all our communication. Hence, its a blessing we recently crossed paths again in Melbourne at the RCSA event, and now I have the honour and privilege of receiving your brilliant newsletters wrestling with possums.

    I hope that all the people whose life you have enriched will awaken one day and look you up, call you to seek to catch up again. Alternatively, will send you a thank you note for all the good deeds you have done in their life and for their careers or what ever else you reached out for. Hopefully some of them will be remorseful for their appauling and ungreatful behaviour.

    On a positive note there will always be the special people who will always remember the good we do in their lives, and will always look us up. I receive glorious surprise emails from around the globe from wonderful candidates or former clients who want to link up who have never forgotten all the great teachings and assistance I have provided them with their job search or their careers, from former staff who still value my inspirational wisdom and values I instilled in them many years ago (refer linkedin, they wanted to share it with the world) or due to reaching out to them which is a great honour. My life journey is enriched for the difference I have made and continue to make in peoples lives, in the same way I believe your life is. Not withstanding many of our wonderful clients whom I have made a significant difference to by placing quality candidates, reaching out to their HR needs and caring about their business to help them evolve and grow/prosper who continue to engage our services after
    3 decades. Hence, I believe us good folk will never be forgotten by the many special people in our life journey and that is what matters most. They make up for all the ones who failed to maintain a high level of etiquette and respect/ethics as well as an appreciation for all the good we have done in their life journey etc.

    Thanks and gratitude once again for your excellent newsletters. I will continue to enjoy reading them. And I trust that every piece of wisdom you share with the world at large will never be forgotten and that it will make a magnificent difference in peoples lives so that they become extraordinary human beings with wonderful etiquette, uncompromising ethics, high level of respect and appreciation towards everyone in their life journey who has reached out to them in their hour of need or reaches out to them in the future.

    Sadly, it’s on everyone’s lips that humanity overall has lost their human element and the qualities you refer to you in your newsletter. Therefore, for those of us special people in the world whom have been blessed to be able to live by these values and principles and humanitarian qualities I hope that our teachings will be a great role model for others to follow.

    To all the special humanitarians friends, family, staff, clients and candidates in my life, I will be eternally grateful for your ongoing support, love and care. My world is forever enriched by all of you who continue to reach out and are making a significant difference to my life and business. God bless always.

    I wish you joy, happiness and abundance in all areas of your life.

    You make our world a better place.

    Have a blessed day.

    I look forward to seeing you again soon.

    Warmest Wishes:)


    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:51 pm #

      Thanks Jenet. That’s a very thoughtful and powerful note. Thank you. I empathise with much you report, appreciate the feedback, and appreciate your continued support of Possums! Look forward to seeing you again soon. Chris

      • Jenet Depke November 26, 2015 at 4:50 pm #

        Hi Chris

        Thanks and gratitude for acknowledging my article, contributions to your blog and your moving compliments. I was deeply touched by your empathy in relation to the “ungrateful” and “disrespectful behaviour” of some of the individuals we reach out to in our journey of life who failed us.However, after reading many of your followers responses and their experiences it is not hard to see that we are never alone with such experiences and that we all highly value all the beautiful, kindred, wonderful friends, colleagues, family etc, all the people who matter most in life.
        After all, when we depart planet earth, our legacy of making a difference and touching peoples lives will never be forgotten, the memories will remain forever in the hearts and minds of all those we have reached out to. Yeah!!!

        We are the blessed children of the universe!!!

        Enjoy the rest of your journey as you continue to touch peoples lives and making a significant difference.

        Warmest Wishes:)


  13. Chris. November 25, 2015 at 2:45 pm #

    So sad – but so true. Shakespeare also wrote – “This above all – to thine own self be true”. Easy to say – but few live it.
    Keep punching mate. Chris.

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

      Thanks Chris! I’m punching hard, with the help of certain mates of old who have given me heart and a spring in my step. You know who they are….Chris

  14. Doug November 25, 2015 at 2:52 pm #

    Over the next numer of years you will REALLY find out who was/is with u or not .
    You made a big impact on me you are at times in my thought when there is an association of Energy Australia,

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 2:55 pm #

      Doug- wonderful to hear from you! You are often in my thoughts and when I think of you and your family, always get a warm feeling of love and gratitude. Big hug. Chris

  15. Doug November 25, 2015 at 2:57 pm #

    seems my ist reply go lost.
    this is life Chris, over my 70 years i have learned not expect from anyone anything.
    You Know who you are ,and whom you have given energy and goodnesss to ,
    those who forget you are worth forgetting its good u find out sooner than later.
    one thing i know for CERTAIN there are VERY few people like you that i have been blessed to meet .

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 4:14 pm #

      Thanks so much Doug- Your first message did come through and I have posted it with a response. You give me huge heart as do all the Smollans. You are alwasy in my heart and my very best wishes to you. Chris

  16. Tony November 25, 2015 at 3:19 pm #

    Chris, your post was the centre of a discussion with I had with 3 others when I met with them this morning. We arrived at the conclusion that our means of communicating with each other have increased greatly but ironically enough we all communicate in ways that are far less personal than ever before. The excuse is usually busyness. Communication becomes a text message or email. We all had “friends” who we have not met with and had a decent conversation

    • Chris Savage November 25, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

      Thanks Tony- glad it helped focus you all on that reality! Chris

  17. Tony November 25, 2015 at 3:41 pm #

    Hi Chris, I met with 3 people this morning for our regular fortnightly “red wine at midnight conversation” breakfast. The conversations are always honest and sometimes ugly. Your post became the centre of discussion and we drew some conclusions. We have more ways than ever to communicate with each other but we are far worse communicators than ever before. Genuine reaching out to people is easily dismissed with a quick text or email. Phone calls are considered an intrusion and meeting one another is seen as unnecessary. We all have “friends” and family members who we never see but only receive texts. Once the business functionality is stripped away, sadly there often isn’t a whole lot left that has any depth? Are we losing our ability to genuinely interact with people face to face or are people too afraid to expose their inner person?

  18. Craig November 25, 2015 at 4:29 pm #

    Realness! Authenticity! Heart!

    Thanks Chris!

    • Chris Savage November 26, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      Thanks Craig!

  19. Marc Cowper November 25, 2015 at 10:23 pm #

    Absolutely spot on!! As someone who also left their role last year to focus on my own startup this really resonated with me Chris.

    I was just talking to another startup founder this week about how my most useful business asset in starting my business has nothing to do with any smarts I have gathered or business acumen – it has been simply the fact that through my career I have treated people with common decency and respect. Every single milestone in my journey can be tracked back to a relationship I have developed over time. It has led to clients coming on board, awesome people joining my team and more doors opening up than I could have ever hoped for.

    Ironically though it was an asset I didn’t even realize I was creating at the time.

    Nice guys do finish first 😉

    • Chris Savage November 26, 2015 at 11:58 am #

      Perfect Marc! Well said.

  20. Jen November 26, 2015 at 2:16 pm #

    Tears are running down my face Chris. Such an amazing story to share. Thank you.

    • Chris Savage November 26, 2015 at 3:37 pm #

      Thanks Jenny!!

  21. Camille Heaney November 26, 2015 at 4:13 pm #

    This feels a wee bit like the rule of thumbs is to value your own brand, that is, your reputation above all.

    In facebook land they call it enlightend de-friending 😉

    • Chris Savage November 30, 2015 at 4:51 pm #

      Fair enough, Camille

  22. Kate M November 30, 2015 at 10:29 am #

    Wonderful post Chris, thanks for sharing. I know we’ve all done what you describe at some point: measured a person by what they can do for us. And when we find ourselves regretting those moments, or when we feel the sting of being treated that way ourselves, we can be grateful for the reminder. We are what we do, and the only thing is to keep trying to do better.

    • Chris Savage November 30, 2015 at 4:52 pm #

      Thanks Kate- appreciated!!

  23. Sean December 1, 2015 at 7:53 am #

    Just read this on the plane. Best one yet Chris. And by the way it was great to spend some time with you in (what I assune is) that same coffee shop!! Excellent blog. And let me know if you’re over here at Xmas…….

    • Chris Savage December 2, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

      Love you, Sean. Loved seeing you. Chris

  24. Tony Spencer-Smith December 1, 2015 at 2:39 pm #

    Thanks for this Chris. It is a wonderful, heartfelt read. There are very few truthsayers like you in business. Most people, scurrying up the corporate ladder, turn themselves into zombies spouting hypocrisy and buzzwords. With your words, you are helping to bring some humanity back into the game.

    • Chris Savage December 2, 2015 at 6:50 pm #

      Thanks Tony. Appreciated!

  25. Ross Clennett December 2, 2015 at 2:33 pm #

    Any post that quotes Dire Straits’ greatest song (according to me, at least) has go to be good and yours was a cracker, Chris. I also had a very similar experience to you when I left the corporate world (although, unlike you, not of my choosing). I was disappointed and saddened when a couple of people I had greatly respected made no attempt to contact me or return my communication efforts. The person who did stand up was your brother, who was not only in communication, he actively went out of his way to help me as I made my way in my new non-corporate life. It’s in those situations you really find out what a person is really made of.

    • Chris Savage December 2, 2015 at 6:51 pm #

      Thanks Ross. Appreciated. Wish he’d done the same for me!

  26. Eda January 28, 2016 at 9:51 am #

    Hi Chris, you pointed it out very well. How people treat you is their karma. How you react to it is yours. You don’t need other people’s validation for your self-worth, or the number of subscribers to a blog. All that stuff is irrelevant. At the end of the day, it’s what you got in you that you must always be certain of.

    • Chris Savage January 28, 2016 at 1:17 pm #

      Thanks Eda!

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