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Make Me an Offer August 1, 2009

Posted by Alex Sawit in Happenings at the Shop.
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By Alex Sawit

01 August 2009

 

When Warren Buffet was the featured guest on a business show a few years ago, the investment wizard who once topped Bill Gates as the world’s richest man candidly listed his golden rules for investor success:

 

Rule # 1: Don’t lose the money.

Rule # 2: Don’t forget Rule No. 1.

Rule # 3: Look for unique companies.

Rule # 4: Do what you know.

 

That these were words of wisdom from arguably the most respected businessman on the planet was good enough.  But there was something else, something far less quantifiable, that Buffet said that I found more compelling.  He explained that, after all the number crunching is done, his decision to invest still relies on whether or not he gets a special feeling about it – that rush in the blood, that tingling sensation that happens when he finds a business he really likes and can even personally believe in.  That’s how he knows he’s got a winner.

I love that.  Warren Buffet I’m not, but I appreciate the notion that a business offer shouldn’t be just about the thrill of making money.  As far as I’m concerned, I’ve got to have a special feeling about it too.

That’s why I just recently rejected two different business offers from groups that were interested in Cyrano.  One group wanted to transform the place into an upscale, cocktail-serving piano lounge (yawn).  The other… well, they actually just wanted to kick us out and set up a gourmet chocolate shop (yeah, sweet, but how the heck am I supposed to sell wine?).

Most Cyrano friends are still unaware that our neighborhood wine shop has long been receiving business offers from all sorts of folk who take notice of our little operation on the street.  They generally covet us for our location, but most are also interested in tapping those savvy, convivial and cosmopolitan people who always seem to gravitate to our place (which is just about any typical group of Cyrano friends, right?).

Just to give you an idea, here are a few of the noteworthy offers from folks who approached us over the years:

 

  • Galileo Enoteca.  Galileo’s Italian proprietor, Gaetano Vitrano, wanted to take over Cyrano so he could turn it into Galileo’s Makati branch.  Bye-bye Gaetano!

  • Mickey’s Delicatessen.  A business associate approached me with a proposal but, after I pointed the limitations, they settled down on Jupiter Street instead.

  • Mr. Hideaki Takeda.  A reasonably successful Japanese businessman and “semi-estranged acquaintance” of our famous neighborhood buddy Mr. Shimizu, Mr. Takeda wanted to convert the backroom into a cocktail lounge with bubbly hostesses speaking in halting Japanese and serving drinks to men twice their age. I must have told him politely a million times, “Uh, let me think about it some more.”

  • Forth & Tay.  The country’s first single malt whisky & cigar bar needed a replacement showroom.  I offered the Cyrano backroom; they asked for our frontage.

  • Attivo Café.  The nice young ladies who own this establishment across the park from us offered what seemed to be a great deal for both parties, where they would operate Cyrano as a café during the day and I would take over at night.  But after watching them handle the place for a trial run, I realized that the chemistry was badly wrong.

 

Looking back at all the offers I’ve turned down, especially the ones that would have been financially rewarding, it’s even clearer now that they all would have changed everything about our little place.  So I have no regrets.  In the end, none of them gave me that rush in the blood, that tingling sensation that happens when I know I’ve found a winner.

Come to think of it, Cyrano friends already have a winner.  And I ain’t gonna to fix what ain’t broke.

 

 

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