Wednesday, April 16, 2014

It’s Hard To Dance With Mouse Guts On Your Shoes!

As a CEO, a key part of my job is telling the company’s story, whether it be to our private equity partners, bankers, auditors, dealers, employees or others.  And I have often referred to that story-telling as “dancing” in that it involves artfully putting on a show for the audience.

Among those who have seen me “dance” are GWC’s two ambitious interns from Kings College, Chris and Patricia, who are helping us out for a few months on competitive analysis research.  And in the process, Patricia unwittingly inspired the name of my to-be-written autobiography.

A few weeks ago, Jeannie discovered a baby mouse zipping across the carpet, leading to the requisite office freak out.  Alicia, our brave ex-Navy sailor, handily scooped up the little critter and released it outside.  And for the rest of the day, I occasionally walked through the area pretending to squish mice under my feet.  (Okay, I admit to sometimes having the sense of humor of a 12-year-old boy!) 

At one point, Georgiann asked me what I would do if I actually stepped on a mouse and got its “guts” on my shoes.  I jokingly replied that I’d have one of the interns clean it off!  And after a bit of friendly back-and-forth, our intern Patricia (who is soon heading off to a career in public accounting) let me know that in a few years she would be coming back in search of bigger and better things, telling me “Hey, I can do your job:  I can walk up and down the aisles all day, stomping my feet and scaring people too!”

I was stunned by Patricia’s quick wit and “guts” in dishing it right back to me and let her know that her courage will take her far.  But on reflection, I realized that much of my job is pretty basic, un-sexy, operational stuff like chasing down mice.  And that the more bogged down I am in the daily grind, the harder it is to do the big picture, visionary things like imagine, implement and tell the story of a fast-growing, dynamic company.  I will re-dedicate myself to trying to stay above the fray.  But in the meantime, the working title of my autobiography title is the header on today’s blog.

What Am I Reading?

the_hard_thing_about_hard_things__building_a_business_when_there_are_no_easy_answers__ben_horowitz__9780062273208__amazon-com__booksLots of hard things to discuss in this blog, not the least of which is finding the time to read the books stacking up on my credenza and iPad!  Too many great TV shows starting up right now (Game of Thrones, Mad Men, Turn, Bates Motel….)  But I’m overdue for a good leadership book so I’m just starting venture capitalist Ben Horowitz’s new one on the challenges of leading a business.  The quote that sucked me in:  “Ideally, the C.E.O. will be urgent yet not insane.”  THOSE are words I can relate to!