October 25, 2011
Those of you who have worked with me over the last few years probably know my assistant, Karen Saunders, pretty well. She is the greatest. Best. Assistant. Ever. Simply putting up with me is enough for a medal of honor. But it’s much more. The following lecture she gave me yesterday will give you a little flavor:
“So I read your post on Culture the other day. It was OK. But you know what? Etiquette is part of your culture too. Last week you missed two calls and didn’t tell them and didn’t tell me. That kind of sh*t pisses people off, y’know? You’re bad with this stuff sometimes. You wanna have a good culture, you can’t do that anymore. Ever. Got it?”
“Yes. You are right. 100% right. I will try harder. I really will.”
“No. You’re not going to ‘try.’ You’re just going to stop doing that. Period. Yeah, things come up and you’ll have to reschedule things, but you’ve got to let them know, and the earlier the better. Got it?”
“Yes. Got it. Never again.”
I left, tail between my legs. But you know what? I am not going to forget that conversation. Sometimes tough love is the best thing you can give someone — and the blunter the better.
And Karen’s message is a great one for me and for lots and lots of people in our business. We all are super busy, over schedule ourselves, have things changed on us multiple times per day, and generally are multi-tasking ADD types who actually prefer things this way. But, given all this, there should be some rules of engagement. Manners do matter. And they matter whether the person on the other end is critically important to us or not important at all. The whole point is treating others with respect. All the time. As a basic rule for how to conduct ourselves.
I am pretty cruddy at this sometimes. The last thing in the world I mean is to be disrespectful, I just get wrapped up in my own little whirlwind of stuff. But what Karen’s tough talk reminded me is this: whatever the reason, and whatever the intent, there is a way to handle the inevitable calendar challenges we face in a way that is respectful to others, and anything short of this is disrespectful. And it is never OK to be disrespectful.
So I am here to announce Culture Rule#1 for Resolute.vc: Zero Tolerance for Disrespect. And if any of you catch me violating it, call me out on it.
Tough love works.