Beyond the Build

Customer Relationships

Burns Club: Old Acquaintances, Not Forgot

A few weeks ago, I was the guest of a customer (and friend) for a Robert Burns dinner in Nashville. As you recall, Robert Burns was a talented Scottish poet who wrote about  love,  his own shared experiences of growing up poor and learning dignity. Often considered the national poet of Scotland, he inspired many during his life and ever since. He died in 1796.

Burns co-founded a club where  rules were simple:

Every man proper for a member of this Society, must have a frank, honest, open heart; above anything dirty or mean. No haughty, self-conceited person, who looks upon himself as superior to the rest of the Club, and especially no mean spirited, worldly mortal, whose only will is to heap up money shall upon any pretense whatever be admitted.

Today there are hundreds of Burns Clubs around the world which celebrate his  poetry and ideals annually.

After our Burns dinner, I got to thinking about old acquaintances who meet these standards. They are gifts to us personally and are the kind people with whom it is nice to do business,  if we’re fortunate enough to find them. Within our “Outlook files” or whatever we use to stay in contact, there are treasure troves of acquaintance–maybe forgotten–who should be remembered, no matter the time passed.

About once every six months I’ll go through my contacts and older letters, looking for those acquaintances of years gone by, those who would qualify for club membership. One never knows where these renewed relationships may lead.

Like most things takes, it more effort, but is also more fruitful.


Merrill Stewart Jr.

Merrill Stewart is Founder and CEO of The Stewart/Perry Company, a commercial building contractor based in Birmingham.