I started and have piloted CGSM Inc. for more than 14 years. The changes we’ve undergone over those years are both necessary and remarkable. The changes are continuing (exciting and fun!) and I know that won’t ever stop.
My management style is not a yelling one. Maybe a couple of times over the fourteen years I have raised my voice – not to team members. I remember one particular occasion as if it was yesterday but it actually was more than 11 years ago. A merchant with whom we were about to purchase a substantial amount of paper was asking about credit. We had run the business very successfully for several years and took discounts on all of our paper bills (you could look it up as the saying goes).
A then-young representative was giving me a bad time about issuing credit for several hundred thousand dollars worth of paper. At the time we had 5 employees 5 desks and 5 computers on those desks in a small office. After a back and forth discussion he offered ‘Hey, no offense but really you’re just a guy with a desk and a phone’.
I leapt at him through the phone line. I went ballistic. There was, shall we say some colorful language used and I’m not terribly proud to admit that. Over the ensuing years I’ve thought about why it bothered me so much. I took it as a huge insult. I still feel that way to a degree but wonder if what really was bothering me was that he was right! After all, what was I really but a guy with some ideas, some employees, and an approach to doing business that was successful (at least I thought it was).
I’m older now and with a little luck a bit wiser. And I would not react the same way today if I were to be in the same situation (we’ve been meeting with lenders lately so that’s what brought these thoughts to mind).
Today, our team is bigger, consequently the responsibilities to those people is even greater, as is the risk. Correspondingly our responsibilities to our clients are also bigger and wider. But at the root of it all nothing has changed. I am still a guy with a desk and a phone -and a computer, and a PDA and a laptop and a bunch of other things to aid in being more productive. We’re all about new and better ideas and procedures and that is our greatest asset – and I am truly proud of that more than anything else.
Epilogue – a couple of years later the same young representative called me to tell me that he was starting a paper brokerage with an associate. I tried to hold back but just could not do it. ‘Hey Charlie – I guess that means you’re just a guy with a desk and a phone’. Good moment for me.
Sometimes what goes around comes around.
Are you just a guy (or gal) with a desk and a phone?