The Attendance Of Your Funeral

Annual Convention of the National Speakers Association (NSA)

This month I was asked by my good friend and mentor Dr. Nido Qubein if I would allow him to interview me on the main stage at the annual convention of the National Speakers Association (NSA). Afterwards, I was invited to join him and a few others at a private dinner.

robin on stage with dr nido qubein, speaking during Influence 2022 conference
Robin Robins, Influence 2022

If you’re a fan of mine, then you are very likely to know Dr. Nido Qubein and his incredible success as president of High Point University, as I reference him often and list him as one of the most influential people in my life. But what you might not know is that Nido was the president of the NSA for years – and while he’s no longer involved in the day-to-day running of it, I know the organization and its members hold a near and dear place in his heart.

At dinner he gave a toast that started, “I’ve got bad news for all of you. The size of your funeral is going to be determined by the weather.”

I would have added, that’s why the casket only has 6 handles – and even that’s optimistic. But Nido used that to make the point that the longer he’s lived and the more successful he’s become, it’s become clearer and clearer to him that all that really matters in the end are the true friendships we develop and the people we love and who truly, deeply love us back, as he felt toward all of us in the room. An honor for sure.

This got me thinking: What’s the test of a true friend? Perhaps the best answer to that question was one I heard told by an Auschwitz survivor: Will they hide me?

Once, during an after-work drink, the question was asked, if you killed someone and had to hide the body, who would be the first person you’d call at the office to help you? First on my list was Nicole. I’m pretty sure Mike and Will would be in the running for the top spot too. Not too sure about Jeff (LOL). But that’s a good question for you to ask yourself as well. If not limited to work, who could YOU call if you were REALLY in trouble and needed help?

What I’m talking about here is more than friendship.

More than someone who remembers your birthday and is good for a laugh. I’m talking about someone you can trust without question. The person you can call, day or night, no matter the situation, and they will be there for you, supporting you, even if it means there’s a good chance they’re going down with you.

The one who would actually visit you in jail every week for the ENTIRE sentence. Someone who would take out a mortgage on their home to get money to bail you out. The person who would raise your kids as their own if needed. The person who would show up to your funeral.

When running a business, you need at least your inner circle, your leaders, to have that same level of commitment and trust.

Would they take the proverbial bullet for you, or are they the first to bow out, cancel, tell you they “can’t,” they “won’t,” or just quit. Over the years I’ve had many, many people turn on me, stab me in the back and show zero remorse for swindling me the first chance they had. I’m sure you have too. That’s why contracts and lawyers exist – you better have any promise you need in writing. A STRONG, well-thought-out prenup.

At my 50th birthday, I had my leadership team celebrate with me. Not my family, not friends – to me the team ARE my family and my friends. I take pride in that. They are the kind of people I’d like to celebrate with, and my friendship and loyalty to them is true. If you cannot say the same of the people who work for you, that’s a sad state of affairs.

It should be a litmus test at least for your most critical inner circle of people you depend on. Further, I encourage you to BE that person for someone else. The true friend. The one they would call if they had to hide. The one who always comes through, and who won’t take advantage of any situation and does the right thing, even when they’re not being watched.