The Break

“… the big picture.”

I glanced at my watch and it was 11:26 when my boss, Bob, said, “the big picture” and Annie came unglued.

“What big picture do we need to know that our support systems don’t work, that too much of the data is old, incomplete or just wrong and that the people who should be maintaining the systems don’t seem to care?”

“Hold on, let’s keep on track”, Bob, said as Annie, one of my co-workers, read off a list of the issues which were preventing her from hitting the sales goals he had put out for the team. “We are talking about hitting goals not…”

“And that’s what I am talking about”, Annie said, “the support systems we have in place are not working, they’re not supporting us.  We’re the ones using the systems, we’re the ones who find that the systems are a liability.  I’m not sure that management knows how bad the systems are or that management understands the sales process at all.”

Annie was sailing now and you could see that it made Bob quite uncomfortable.  Now usually when challenged he would perform an encore of the clichés he had already used at the meeting about “focus”, “teamwork”, “team players”, “there’s no “I” in team” and “we hear you” before he would say something about staying positive but today here he was at our monthly regional sales team meeting and it wasn’t getting through to the group, especially Annie who got up and left the room saying that she needed to get some fresh air.

“Why don’t we stop here, bring in lunch (deli sandwiches brought in on a platter so we can keep working through lunch—get the ham and cheese) and wait for Mike Scott who should be joining us at any moment. Let’s hear what Mike has to say about the systems and management’s perspective”.

The room was cooling off as the food was brought in along with Mike Scott from headquarters in Dallas.

“Mike Scott”, Bob boomed out until he saw that Mike was on the phone and then he shushed everyone as if they had called out Mike’s name.

Mike gave the little finger wave with the hand holding the phone and placed his top-grain leather laptop carrying case on the table next to the sandwich (ham and cheese), chips, cookie and bottled water that Bob’s secretary had brought over.

Bob scrunched up his nose and wiggled his finger toward the sandwiches to tell everyone to grab their lunch.

“It’s looking good for the third quarter”, Mike said into the phone, “let’s get on this first thing Monday morning” and with that he opened the water, took a gulp and held up one finger to Bob as he started to talk to someone else.

I could tell that everyone was impressed and hearing that it’s looking good for the third quarter was sure what we needed.

When Mike finally put down his phone Bob jumped up and said, “Mike Scott, welcome.  Everyone, we’re really lucky to have Mike with us today. I know that he’s got things to tell us which may just answer a lot of our questions so why don’t we all finish our lunch and then we can hear what he has to say.”

Mike and Bob sat down and started to talk about some guy named Pete who they had both known years ago who had died when Mike said, “Darn, I forgot about the time difference.  What time is our dinner tonight?”

“Six”, Bob said.

“I wish I had remembered about the time difference.  I’ve got to get over to the hotel to get ready”.

Who needs six hours to get ready for dinner?

With that Mike got up and said something about the company growing fast and hoping to meet everyone and then something about the third quarter and everyone was sitting back waiting to see whether or not this was the guy we had been waiting for and then as he made his way around the tables that were shaped like the letter U it was almost as if the clouds had parted and the sun could finally peak through.

There was something (confidence?) that Mike seemed to have that made you feel good about the company and your job and yourself.  You couldn’t quite put your finger on it but he had it and then suddenly as he walked between the tables you knew what it was.  His pants, his trousers, his slacks were displaying the right break (quarter break? half break?) where the pant leg meets the shoe.  The break was meeting his stylish loafer at the right angle to show off just a hint of his argyle sock.  Superb.  Just right. What a guy.

Here was someone we could count on and as he talked about ‘focus” and “team work” and “team players” and no “I” in team and how headquarters “hears you” you couldn’t help but feel a little better and think that it was no wonder that the third quarter was looking good.”

A couple of more points from Mike and a couple more glances at that break and then he said, “I gotta go” and headed for the door.

As he reached for the door and said how nice it was to see everyone and how he was looking forward to spending more time with our group the door opened and in came Annie who was noticeably calmer.  Mike introduced himself and slipped past her while he waved to the group.

“Sure good to see Mike. I just wish he had more time for the group today”.  Bob quickly summarized what Mike had just said about staying focused, and teamwork and team players and that there is no “I” in team and then he sat down and ate the sandwich, chips and cookie that Mike hadn’t touched.

Bob smiled at Annie and said that he wished she had been here to hear Mike.

“What did I miss?” she asked.



Turning my life around

As I grow older I seem to spend more and more time looking back over my life.  When I think about the decisions that I’ve made and the paths that I’ve chosen I find that I often didn’t really feel that I was in control at all.  Something always seemed to affect what I wanted and then what I was able to accomplish.  I know I kind of sensed that there was something that was holding me back but I could never identify what it was and so I just slogged on. 

I could have been a great high school athlete but I could hardly make it through gym class so there was no way I was going to be able handle football two-a-days and that meant I was never there to lead the Bulldogs to a championship.  When I was in the Army in basic training I would flop down on my bunk when we came back in from marching less than a mile–so much for my dreams of joining the Army Special Forces (I know that I could have made a difference for America in a dangerous world if I had been there to protect the nation). After I graduated from college and started my first real job my boss gave me a special assignment because he wanted to see what I could do.  He said I was going to be his “golden-haired boy’ but I soon lost interest in the project and turned in work that his ten year old could have done and there went that business career (Mr. Clark’s “golden-haired boy” has spent most of his career pushing a mail cart).

Do you see a pattern here?  I sure do.  I could have been an all-star, I should have been an all-star. Ask yourself how difficult it must be for me to sit there all alone in front of my flat screen every Sunday afternoon watching football, eating Cheetos and knowing that it should be me scoring those touchdowns.  Ask yourself how painful it must be for me to have a miserable, go nowhere job when I know I should be some firm’s CEO.  I could have been somebody.  I could have, I should have.  Don’t think that this hasn’t tormented me my whole life.  What I have not done drives me crazy.

 It’s pretty hard to live with failure but then watching a game between San Francisco and Green Bay something happened. It had nothing to do with the game on the field, it was a commercial, a commercial that has changed my life.  I found out that I’m not a failure, it’s not my fault that I’ve never accomplished anything. Turns out it’s low-T, I have low-T. What a relief. It’s not me, it’s low-T.

Now that I’ve found out what my problem has been I’ll be using the product I saw on TV (the guy in the commercial riding around in a hot ‘66 Mustang convertible seems to be really confident plus he has a cute young girlfriend). Nice car, nice girl friend, nice life.

I’m on my way. Things are going to change and change fast.  I just left a message for the coach of the Browns telling him that I’ll be stopping by.  After my tryout I want to see if I can find a ‘67 or ‘68 Mustang (maybe a red or dark green fastback) and then I think I may even sign up with eHarmony so I’ll have someone to ride around with me in my new car. Things are looking up. My life is turning around. Low-T. Who knew?

Ask your doctor.