Today's Reading

"By the time I arrived at our San Francisco office, I was the last one in on the deal. Even the guy from our London office beat me. I settled into the last remaining guest office—an office on the 21st floor. The deal headquarters, and everyone else, was on floor 25.

"I hunkered down and got to work. Most of the action was on 25—meetings, negotiations among all the parties, everything. But I was alone on 21—alone with my work and my photo album, which sat opened on my desk.

"I worked from 7:00 A.M. till after 1:00 A.M. every day. Three times a day I would go down to the deli in the lobby and purchase a bagel, a sandwich, or a salad. Then I'd go back up to 21 and eat while poring over the documents.

"If you had asked me at the time what my objective was, I would have told you that I was 'drafting the best possible documents to protect our client and close the deal,' or something to that effect. But you should know a couple of other things about my experience in San Francisco.

"All of the negotiations that were central to the documents I was working on were happening on the 25th floor. These 25th-floor negotiations should have been very important to me because every change to the deal had to be accounted for in all the documents I was drafting. But I didn't go up to 25 much.

"In fact, after 10 days of lobby deli food, I found out that food was being served around the clock in the main conference room on 25 for everyone working on the deal. I was upset that no one had told me about it. And twice during those 10 days I was chewed out for failing to incorporate some of the latest changes into my documents. No one had told me about those either! Another time I was chewed out for being hard to find. And on two occasions during that period, the lead partner asked for my opinion on issues that had never occurred to me—issues that would have occurred to me had I been thinking. They were in my area of responsibility. He shouldn't have had to do my job for me."

At this, Bud sat back down.

"Now, let me ask you a question, Tom. Just from the little bit that you know about my San Francisco experience, would you say that I was really committed to 'drafting the best possible documents to protect our client and close the deal'?"

"No, I don't think so," I said, surprised at the ease with which I was about to lampoon Bud Jefferson. "In fact, you don't seem like you were engaged in the project at all. You were preoccupied with something else."

"That's right," he agreed. I 'wasn't' engaged in it. And do you think the lead partner could tell?"

"I think after those 10 days it would have been obvious," I offered.

"He could tell well enough to chew me out a couple of times at the very least," Bud agreed. "How about this: Do you suppose he would say that I'd bought into the vision? Or that I was committed? Or that I was being maximally helpful to others on the deal?"

"No, I don't think so. By keeping yourself isolated you were putting things at risk—his things," I answered.

"I think you're right," Bud agreed. "I had become a problem. I wasn't engaged in the deal, wasnt' committed, hadn't caught the
vision, was making trouble for others, and so on. But consider this: How do you suppose I would have responded had someone accused me of not being committed or not being engaged? Do you think I would have agreed with them?"

I pondered the question. Although it should have been outwardly obvious, Bud might have had trouble seeing himself as others saw him at the time. "No, I suspect you might have felt defensive if someone had said that to you."

This excerpt ends on page 13 of the paperback edition.

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