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“That man”…

I’m positively perky over a plethora of people who have progressively prompted my professional pursuits for prolonged periods.  Permit me to pore over a pair today – maybe you can relate.

Tony was one of my very first colleagues when I entered the technology business 35 years ago.  And Tony remains a good friend to this day.  Leading by example, he has helped me develop an inner sense of self-peace – maybe you can relate.

You see, when I was growing up as a young, sales professional, I was just good enough to seemingly always be in over my head.  As a result, I couldn’t rely on raw talent or innate confidence.  Throughout my career I’ve had to work at it and compete for it – every day; every deal; 35 years, and continuing.  In so doing, I’ve developed a tenacity that’s become my foundation for competitive success.  And I am extremely competitive.

Unfortunately, my unfettered, competitive foundation also made for an angry, arrogant, unlikeable, and somewhat paranoid persona.  I remember to this day my sales manager at Oracle taking me off to the side and asking me to dampen my intensity – I was intimidating my colleagues.  Intimidating my colleagues – at Oracle!  The original, “fire breathing” sales culture; developed by one of the industry’s original “fire breathers” – Larry Ellison.

My friend Tony can relate – he was a “fire breather” back in the day too.  But wait – when he helped me launch my consulting practice after I had not seen him for a few years, I noticed a distinct difference in his style.  Gone the “fire breather”; he was now a mature, self-confident, soft-spoken, executive.  When I asked him about his metamorphosis, he simply replied:

I don’t want to be “that man” anymore.

Adam was one of my very first colleagues at my current company – twice!  You see, I am one of those “break in service” employees who left and was recruited back.  And in the coming back part, coincidently I was re-teamed with Adam.  As a young sales professional – he seemed curious about my background and experience.  Adam has an intensity about him – reminds me of me, back in the day.  He has noticed the dichotomy between my present-day persona and “that man” from my “war stories days”.  When asked, I echoed my friend Tony:

I don’t want to be “that man” anymore.

To be clear, I still consider myself (A) in a bit over my head, and (B) a “fire breather” – some things never change.  However, I am trying to portray a little less intensity.  Similar perhaps to Stanley Gault, former CEO of Rubbermaid:

He responds to the accusation of being a tyrant with the statement, “Yes, but I’m a sincere tyrant.”

I wonder what man Adam will evolve to be.  He’s in the prime years of building his career.  Tony and I are at the other end: 

The young are luckier:  They don’t need to remember what the rest of us are trying to forget.

Jan Carroll

I’m a “fire breather”; following Stanley Gault’s example, “Yes, but I’m a sincere fire breather”.  My competitive intensity remains.  However I believe having such intensity, albeit best kept under control, is a good thing:

Don’t settle for less than your potential.  Remember, average is as close to the bottom as it is to the top.

Abigail Van Buren

I know “that man” I don’t want to be anymore.  Maybe you can relate.

GAP

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2 Comments


  1. joe carusi
    Apr 30, 2014

    GAP – nice piece – I too don’t want to be that man from the legions of RED troopers that we both marched to for years. So it’s either Tony Marabotti or Tony Kender which one?


    • Gary
      May 07, 2014

      Thanks Joe! Yes, we were all good troopers. It’s the Tony I worked with in Chicago. Thx, GAP

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