The Norman Transcript

Opinion

March 8, 2013

Learning lessons from a street-wise guy

NORMAN — A well-connected friend in New Orleans took me to the critically acclaimed Galatoires restaurant — a fine dining experience at one of the top restaurants in the United States.

My friend has a business relationship with the restaurant and knew everyone there. He asked for John, an entertaining, 40-year-old veteran waiter, to serve us. My host insisted on paying for lunch, but I insisted on leaving the tip.

After handing John a large tip, as I reminded him of my name and my Kentucky roots, John and I parted as friends.

I am also in the process of opening an office for McNay Settlement Group in New Orleans. Both of us will have reason to entertain people at Galatoires.

When that happens, I know John will be my server. And my clients and friends will get the same VIP treatment that I got.

Building a relationship with a star professional at a world-famous restaurant in a city where I am just getting established seems like a no brainer, but I see a lot of business people with no brains. Servers are anonymous and faceless to them.

When those people go to dine, you will see them waiting in line for three hours to get a table.

My street-wise father, Joe McNay, taught me that servers, nurses, plumbers and other support people can be the most important individuals in your life. Dad died 20 years ago this week at age 59.

Dad only made it to the 10th grade but was smarter than any Ph.D. in understanding human relationships. I always thought he should have been in politics. Instead, he was a bookie and a professional gambler.

Dad was not a millionaire, but he lived like one. His personality and connections gave him a tremendous amount of clout.

Dad fought bravely against prostate cancer and as the end drew near, I had one deathbed question: Did Pete Rose bet on baseball?

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