The moment I heard the words “Let’s go!” — I froze. It was my second day at my first sales job. The place was Baltimore. The year was 2002. The corporate trainer had instructed us to break off into small groups to do the typical role-plays most sane people dread to get more comfortable on the phone.
“Mike!” I heard my name being shouted from across the room. “Mike!”
After figuring out how to use my legs again, I walked over to my manager in a state of pure panic. The fact he was pushing six foot five and had a reputation for being as charismatic as Bill Clinton didn’t help to calm my nerves.
“You don’t look too good,” he said. “What’s up?”
“I st-st-stutter and I took this job to get some confidence” — were the only words I managed to muster before his catcher-mitt-sized hand swallowed my shoulder.
“What do you want to do?” he asked.
“Run!” I shot back.
“I gotta better idea. Follow me.”
Rather than explaining the situation to the corporate trainer on the way out, my manager simply told him he was stealing me for the day.
“I hate that shit too,” he said on the way to my desk. “Here’s a pile of dead leads and a few scripts. Make your way through the list and let me know if you get hung up on anything.”
“You’re not going to sit with me?”
“No. The fact you had the guts to show up tells me you’ll do just fine. Plus, most people don’t last long if they don’t wanna come to work. Try to get comfortable. I’ll be in my office.”
The best bosses have “super vision”
Since that day, some twenty years ago, my career has taken me all over the globe. During this time, I’ve held various leadership positions in the corporate, startup, and creative worlds.
To this day, when I think about the qualities of someone worth following, I turn to the actions of my first manager.
I wouldn’t have lasted a week if he hadn’t been flexible.