This became the scene where I first meet the character, Pops Maritime, and he lectures me on the importance of Love as a business principle. And since these are my original notes, it’s not only the scene where I first met him, it’s when I actually first met him–in the world of my imagination, that is.
Said another way, this really is my first encounter with Pops (a character many readers have told me is their favorite).
I’ve typed the text, along with the image of my notebook pages, because even though you can click the jpg below to enlarge it, I don’t expect you to be able to read my chicken scratch.
We have to get more comfortable talking about love in the context of our businesses.
Edg: “This is not some California touchy-feeley whoo ha garbage. Saying that love has no place at work is just like saying human beings have no place at work. It’s absurd. The Extreme Leader will bring her heart to work and try to express it in everything she does. You already bring your heart to work. It’s not like you arrive at your office, pluck your heart out of your chest, and leave it throbbing on the sidewalk awaiting your return. So use it, dude. If you’re only using your heart to perform its anatomical function, you are wasting one mighty fine organ.”
Pops: “If you’re not careful, you’re going to miss the chance to let people know how much you care for them. The irony is that we often take for granted the very people that mean the most to us. It’s like the old story of the couple that had been married for 30 years. They’re sitting around the breakfast table, yet another morning, she with her coffee and he hidden away behind his newspaper. She says to him ‘Honey, how come you never tell me you love me anymore?’ And he, from behind his paper, says, ‘What do you mean? I told you I loved you when we got married. If anything changes I’ll let you know.’”
I chuckled–not only at the story, but at Pops’ ability to tell it. He had great delivery.
“That’s the way it is at work, too.” Pops continued. “When someone does great work we may give a pat on the back and say, ‘nice job,’ but we don’t take the time to stop, focus, and tell them how much we appreciate them. Then we wonder why they leave or run out of steam. There’s a very simple way to avoid the tragedy of a missed opportunity to express gratitude: do it now, right now, don’t wait another minute, because you never know when that next minute will be your last. Someday it will.”
“So make sure you give timely and sincere recognition to the people you work with,” I said. “With all due respect, Pops,” (I was still having trouble calling him that), “that’s the oldest management technique in the book.”
He looked at me, and I got an immediate hit of the man’s power. That gaze just about blew the back of my head out and I realized that I was being lulled into thinking that W H Macintosh was just garden-loving, water-sipping, trailer-living, mellow and retiring Pops. He wasn’t. He was an empire builder. And you don’t build empires by doing a bunch of namby-pamby management techniques.
He pushed his chair back and stood over me, never once taking his eyes off of mine.
“Once again, Mr. Farber,” said W H Macintosh, Empire Builder, “you have missed the point.”
He turned away and disappeared into the trailer.
“What just happened there?” I asked Edg.
“He’ll be back.”
“Did I piss him off?”
“Just pushed a proverbial button, I think.”
He smiled, and I felt a little better – but not by much. We sat and sipped our water in silence and a few minutes later, Pops stepped into the garden carrying a pad of paper and a book whose title I couldn’t quite make out.
“Band of Brothers,” said Pops as he settled back into his chair. “I want to read you something.” He leafed through the book.
“This is a letter written by Sgt. Floyd Talbert to his Major, Dick Winters, in 1945. Talbert had been wounded in the front lines of the war with Germany and was confined to his hospital bed when he wrote, ‘Dick, you are loved and will never be forgotten by any soldier that ever served under you or I should say with you because that is the way you lead… I would follow you into hell.’
“Now I want you to tell me, Steve,” he locked his eyes back on mine, “if that sounds like a ‘management technique’?”
“Well, no. But…”
“Let’s be clear about this. When Talbert said I would follow you into hell, he was not speaking metaphorically. He had already followed Winters into hell. Literally. And he would do it again. ”
He stopped, and the silence rushed in around us.
“By writing this letter, was he practicing a ‘technique’ to get in good with his boss? Was he trying to kiss up, to manipulate the situation to his own future benefit? Is that what he was doing, Steve?”