He pulls up his Pants like the rest of us

Every day he awakens and drags himself out of the bed. He heads into the bathroom and fires up the shower as one of the many steps of his morning ritual.

He shaves, brushes his hair and his teeth and considers whether or not his ear hairs need trimming.  This morning he opts to leave them alone. He pulls his suit pants and a bright white shirt off their hangers.

He heads out of the bedroom gives his wife and kids a kiss good bye and heads off to the garage with his coffee, car keys and backpack.

Off to work he goes, just like hundreds of thousands of us in North Carolina every day.

Does any of this sound unusual? Not really.  In some way or another we all do nearly the same thing every morning. We all put our pants on the same way.

Yet, many of us forget this once we get to work. I too used to suffer from the disease I call C-Phobia or Exec-Paranoia.

This is the not so uncommon fear of calling on the CEOs, CFOs, Executive VPs, Division Managers, CIOs and many other influential business men (& women). Lots of people would rather go to the dentist and get a root canal done.

These diseases stem from the inappropriate statements we here every day. Stuff like:

“He’s the big man, don’t bother him”
“You’re a peon and are not supposed to talk to Mr Big Britches. Better not knock on his door or call him.”
“He is far too busy to talk to you”

Add your own statement here – Why did you fear calling on these people?

For the most part, these statements are not true. I don’t want to mis lead you. There are a lot of Mr Big Britches out there who for no real reason think they are better than the rest of us. This is unfortunate and shameful.

Most men (& women) put their pants on the same way the rest of us do.

Yeah, they have a important job and maybe a fancy-dan title, but they are people like the rest of us and their needs are very similar to the rest of us:

  • They want to have open and honest conversations about business & life
  • They don’t want to be sold or taken advantage of
  • They don’t want to be told what their problems are, they want to figure it out themselves (likely with help when they ask for it)
  • They want to discover good solutions to their personal and business problems
  • They want access to people with ideas who can improve their business, team, revenue and families
  • They want to know good people who they could consider adding to their team
  • They want business ideas and opportunities that can create value for their organizations and clients
  • They want to know what is going on around town, state & world that can have a positive (or negative) effect on their business & life
  • They want to capture knowledge that can help their team and business.
  • They event want to hear a good joke (at the appropriate time)
  • They want the same things the rest of us want

Knowing that these folks are busy and that they have the same needs as everyone else in business, how do we get over our C-Phobia or Exec-Paranoia?

  • Keep the points above in mind when we call, email or walk up to these good people.
  • Don’t waste their time trying to sell them. Spend time getting to know them and what is really important to them.
  • Be respectful, honest, transparent and willing to help them where we can and they want help. When we help a C-Level executive he will want to help us in return.

They put their pants just like the rest of us. They’re busy and have hectic lives but still need the same stuff we do.

What else do you need to know in order to call or walk up to him (or her) and say, “Hello”?

Does this help – picture his bare white legs and black socks. Can you see him pulling his suit pants up, tucking in his shirt and putting on his belt?  He puts his pants on the same way the rest of us do. Really.


Thanks to Nick D for reminding me of this point today.

Why are some business men anything but Professional?

I wrote this post in 2004 and the conversation came up today 3/7/2011

Being a part of many industries for over 25 years I have had both the pleasure and misfortune to work with lots of different personalities. I have easily adapted working with people who are:

  • quiet or loud
  • overbearing or meak
  • demanding or accomodating
  • biased or open-minded

as well as people who waffle across the spectrum of any of these or other traits.

I worked with one professional with a distiquished Doctorate who boldly professed that he could be working with other professionals on a serious issue one second and then as if spinning on a dime, get totally wrapped up into the subject matter of a playboy magazine and then back to the serious conversations again. He called this “range”. I personally think he is a very confused and unfocused individual.

Another professional I spent time working with seemed to think that he could never do anything wrong. In hindsight (wonderful thing – don’t you all agree?), I now see why he accomplished very little. He spent most of his waking hours making sure that if he had any projects that could possibly go wrong there was going to be someone else he could blame the problems on. I sometimes wonder if in his Project Plan he actually budgeted time and resources to making sure that there was someone else to blame.

As much as I wish that it were not true – I have worked with:

  • racists
  • sexists
  • slackers
  • perpetual liars
  • unethical people
  • as well as down right theives and crooks.

Another type of self labeled professional that I have experienced are the “Hypocrites”.

These people can be two faced, back-stabbers and in many cases bold faced liars. You never really know where you stand with hypocrites.

  • You sign the contract and then wonder if they will keep their word.
  • You hire them and after they say they will work hard for a fair pay – they don’t
  • You counsel them on non-performance issues, they promise to correct the situation – and they repeat the same non-performance issue again and again.
  • You commit to them to buy a product at a specific price and without fair notice – they up the price
  • They promise to support your programs and then immediately go off and tell others that your programs are destined to fail

Again, Hypocrites are very difficult to work with. It can be done – you just need to watch them closely.

The last example I want to offer tonight is of a business man who was anything but a professional – “The foul mouthed fool”
Recently I experienced a challenging conversation with a business man who felt it necessary to disagree with everything I said thru the use of every 4-letter and profane word he could muster thru his alcohol tainted lips. He told me it was after 5:00pm (actually 5:45pm) and since I called him at home on his cell phone he felt like he could speak in whatever manner he liked.

We were speaking about a contract between our two companies where I interpreted it one way and he in another quite different way.

Every sentence out of his mouth started with or was imbedded with some of the most foul pronouns and adverbs you expect to hear at the country & western bar or in the ghettos, but not in a business conversation.

Early into his “heated” barrage of words as he expressed his disapproval of my interpretation of the contract, I asked him ever so politely to discontinue cussing to me. I explained to him that as business men we should be able to agree to disagree politely while we lobby our own interpretations.

He told me to “Get F***ed!”

Ok – now I’m no angel.  I had to work at cleaning up my language after working in a chemical plant for 10 years where I hung out with roughneck contractors and laborers for 10 years. Yet, I know when to keep my language clean and how to communicate properly with other business people. This guy has no F’ing clue.

He has proven to me that there are now and will always be people out there who call themselves professional business men who are actually “idiots in suits” or “foul-mouthed fools”.