This did backfire spectacularly for me at a lunch roundtable I hosted for the finance director of a large insurance conglomerate. In a panic that the boardroom would be half empty, I rounded up a few salespeople from the China team to play the part of investors. Just as we are about to start, a first-year analyst comes running in and sits in the seat next to the presenter, which had been left empty out of politeness.
Throughout the entire duration of the lunch, this kid keeps disrupting the presentation — chewing disgustingly with his mouth open, belching, clearing his throat, slurping his tea, even farting unashamedly. When he's done eating, he starts hacking at his teeth with a toothpick. The finance director is openly struggling through the presentation. I'm openly struggling to keep my food down.
I had to show them a really good time at karaoke that night to make up for that debacle. But all was forgiven; that's what these trips are all about anyway — having a good time.
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Another time, we had a high-level executive from one of the largest government-sponsored enterprises go to Tokyo to be the keynote speaker at our annual conference. It started with dinner and drinks with senior management the night before. (I wasn't senior enough to be there.) As people were looking to head home around midnight, the executive said he was going to meet a guy from another bank for "one quick drink."
The following morning, there was no sign of him. About two hours before his mid-afternoon keynote address in front of Japan's most important investors, he was still is MIA. With his phone turned off, our senior management was left with no choice but to physically go to his hotel. The famously discreet staff reluctantly explained what happened, and it wasn't pretty. Apparently, he came back at 5am completely wasted, trashed his hotel room, and then when he demanded a new one, they kicked him out. The search party walked to the nearest hotel only to discover that they had just missed him. He had gone straight to the airport via chopper, where he proceeded to charter a private plane home.
In the end, their CEO [allegedly] called our CEO to say — this is the official version — he got violently ill with food poisoning, end of story.
Commentary by John LeFevre, the creator of @GSElevator on Twitter, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, "Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, And Billion-Dollar Deals." Follow him on Twitter @JohnLeFevre.