Thursday, June 3, 2010

My old boss

In our lives, we all have people that are extremely influential to who we are today right? I mean the most obvious being your parents... whether they were great parents, shitty parents, were available or were gone, they somehow impact you. Well, and then there are the rest of your family that you might have a special relationship with. Then maybe your friends, teachers, and other social influence. Well, one of my influential people is my former boss...

I spent 8 years in public accounting, working for a regional firm... a good sized firm with visions of moving up by increasing clientele and/or merging with other firms. In my time there, I definitely had visions of the firm succeeding... strangely, I've always been a company guy... when I was with the firm, we had a motto called "One Firm" and I truly embraced that concept. Once I jumped to Capital One, I was a very corporate guy... what was best for the company and what would make sense for the company is a question I always asked myself. And in my new company now, I obviously adopt that motto... what I've now realized is that that makes me unique... but valuable to a company. And, because of that mentality, it becomes normal for me to go above and beyond the normal course of duty. I just try to do what is right.

Well, all that is to say that one reason I am able to think that way AND perform in the way that I believe is the most beneficial to the company is because I had a great boss and now a great friend. A partner in the accounting firm had a significant influence in my formative years as a professional and he was great. He recognized my strengths and weaknesses and enabled me to work in areas that really allowed me to showcase my strengths.

To be honest, so far, despite working for a traditionally conservative accounting firm, then a credit card/banking industry, and now a 100 year old insurance company, I have been blessed with great bosses. Now part of it is definitely me. I have a strong personality and will not cave easily to people, even with higher power. However, generally, I've had bosses that allowed me to run my own show and grow my own way.

Why am I writing all this? Well, my former boss from the accounting firm was in Tampa this week because of work and so I went out to dinner/drinks with him tonight. We talked about family, the firm, my current job, etc... and to be honest, it just reminded me of how much I missed working for him. We share so much when it comes to vision on the "greater good" which in a corporate world is generally geared towards what's best for the company... or at least, that's how we feel it should be. But admittedly, a lot of companies create a silo where each section would be responsible only for their parts and without a strong central leader, there's not enough coordination.

In talking to him, I was reminded of how lucky I was to have spent the 8 years of my 20's working for him and making me who I am today... and giving me the ability to believe in myself and that my values made sense. It's funny how he went from being my boss to being my friend... and to listen to his struggles even in his 50's about working in the firm. This is one perspective I would not have gotten if I stayed in the firm... but on the same token, we did have a lot of discussions around values and strategy and just thoughts about the direction of the company... and I know that every time we talked, we were on the same page. I have since moved on to other companies but one thing that doesn't change is our values. It was just nice to be able to catch up with him and despite the fact that we are 20 years apart and that we only talk like 2-3 times a year, we share very similar values and visions.

And you know he is a great boss when me and I think a few of my friends would go work for him if he were to break off from the firm and needed help from us. Now THAT is loyalty that you can never buy. You'd have to earn that and he certainly has.

I don't miss Richmond at all but I do miss all the people that are still there.


lightning36 said...

You are fortunate if you have never worked for a boss from hell. It is no surprise that the shortest time I ever worked anywhere (four years -- a long four years)was when this guy was my supervisor.

Your perspective is interesting since we have worked in completely different cultures: corporate vs higher education -- student development, in particular -- where the greater good is for the individual we serve.

Niklas Pfeifer said...

Boss is not that behind the times to be former. Boss is more olden

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