“Oh wow. That is going to really cost you”. I had just gotten a call from the recruiter for the role that would take my career to the next level. Having made it through most of the interviews, I had won her over, and it was now down to the “final” interview: dinner with my family at the home of my boss and my peer, the CTO – Together with their families. They both had smaller kids – 8 and 6. Having started early (surprising you right ?) my kids were now mostly grown… so who would I take with me? And would I be able to pass this “charm” interview?
Leadership topic - Ray Charles
While each week and each post is supposed to stand alone, they are all written in a series that often tells stories that go together. Building on the story of my own Journey, and where Courage was really generated, I realized that Together was the next important element. And, the soundtrack for that era was one album from Ray Charles that I started every day with.
So I tried something new – all the music from one album – and what an album. I hope you have come to love each and every one of these songs as much as I do, and that it inspired you to get deeper into Ray’s catalog. I will return to the rest of his catalog (as with U2) but for now, it will be the soundtrack of the story of the most important leadership trait for teams: Together.
🖋 The view from the new office was great – facing east over a man-made lake, I would be rocking out to Ray and watching the sunrise most mornings. I had negotiated hard for my offer – with the encouragement of my mentor, and was now glowing in the realization that I was well-positioned. A role that was a mix of technology leadership which I knew, and people development which I wanted to focus on now, Together in one place. One morning in the first week I was there, the recruiting manager who I had negotiated with came in, closed the door, and asked “Do you have anything you would like to tell me?”
What is your intention?” It is such an obvious question once asked, but not one I considered often. In my previous role, our leader’s “intention” to get us a partner Executive Coach to hone our leadership skills was met with shock and disbelief. Really – now? When we can’t find time to go to the bathroom? My wife was observing the stress changing even with what detergent she had to use to get my clothes clean. Now – when we were not sure this business would even survive?
Engineers LOVE problems. Nothing can bring us more joy than a big, complicated problem, with lots of loose ends. And, soon you observe that business people do not like problems. Not in the least – not big ones, not small ones, nothing that resembles them. They like things to run smoothly, with smiles all around. And having just come from a season of EVERYTHING was a problem, which even the business people were in agreement with, I was stepping into a completely different world and observed…
Arriving on a late afternoon flight to Mountain View, we had to save our energy for the return flight… in only 5 hours. The Red Eye home was required to keep a meeting with a key customer that could not be moved. And we wondered and worried about this meeting, mysteriously called with only 24 hours’ notice, mandatory, and with an attendee list that was not clear. Luckily the business leader I was scheduled to meet in that customer meeting was on the flight out and back… so we would be in whatever this was together. And that made all the difference…
Through daily iterations of a spreadsheet of 1765 engineers around the globe, we were as ready as we could be to launch Project One on January 1. If someone ever suggests you do a massive corporate reorg at the first of the year, just say the sentence that I work with leaders on the most. A complete sentence that, as they say in Charades: 1 word, 2 letters. “No”. I would love to tell you we were confident this would be executed well, but honestly, we were really never sure what the real objective was in the first place, so we would hit something…
Faith, fundamentally, is belief in something you can’t see, but you know is there. As the results of Project One spiraled out over the last year I was there, I knew that it was time to take a leap of faith into something that I had never really contemplated. The dream of owning my own business was never a thing, and yet, that was what was on the horizon. If I really believed in what I was seeing both as a need and my talent, I had to act. On Faith, or In Faith but either way, how?