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One: The Announcement
This is not good news, Bill Ambers thought to himself as he scrolled through the announcement that had been delivered by E-mail to everyone in the company. I'm sure it means nothing but trouble!
It seemed that the company had just named a new division president of the Business Services Group -- which is basically the call center for the large computer hardware and software manufacturer where Bill was employed as director of Customer Service. Bill quickly reflected on some of the more pertinent details about his new boss so that he could get a better picture of what might lie ahead. Many of his thoughts were merely speculation on his part, but he logged them in his mind anyway.
Angela B. Krafft. Wonder if I'll have to call her "Ms. Krafft" or if she goes by Angie?MBA from Stanford. And me with four years at a state university. Married. No children. Probably no pets, either. Very ordered life. With a competitor for the past eight years. Wonder if she got canned?
Proven performer with a record of departmental turnarounds. Uh-oh!
Bill hated getting new bosses. In his eleven years with Dyad Technologies, he had endured three of them. Ms. Krafft would be the fourth.
They always come in and want to shake things up right away, he recalled. And terms such as "proven performer" and "departmental turnarounds" were, in Bill's opinion, clear cues that changes would abound whether he liked it or not.
It took just two business days for Bill's fears to become the potential nightmare he had predicted. He got "the call."
"Ms. Krafft would like to see you tomorrow for about half an hour. Do you have some time around ten o'clock?" the scheduling administrator asked.
Bill paused for a moment as if to imply there was a crucial meeting on his schedule at ten. Of course, there wasn't. "I'm available," he replied as his blood pressure rose a bit.
"Good. President's office. Ten o'clock sharp. She's looking forward to meeting you."
Probably just a "get acquainted" meeting, Bill tried to assure himself. But he knew deep down that new bosses always spelled trouble. Why would this instance be any different?
Bill actually wore a sport coat to work that day -- despite the fact that he had dressed casually ever since the company relaxed its dress code. Have to make a good first impression was his driving motive.
Bill was normally a confident guy. He had enjoyed a number of successes in his nearly three decades in business. Since coming to Dyad, he had even been awarded the cherished "Eagle," the highest recognition offered by the company. It wasn't just the Divisional Eagle, either. It was the National Eagle. The Big Eagle.
But that was six years ago. Two bosses ago. Two major disappointments ago. The promotions he had anticipated never materialized. Two "strangers," both from outside Dyad's ranks, had moved into the vice presidencies he had sought. I've worked hard, I'm dependable, why didn't I get those positions?
Maybe this time it will be different, Bill thought as he went through the double glass doors and into the division president's waiting room at precisely 10:00 A.M. Maybe this boss will make life better.
"Mr. Ambers?" inquired a sophisticated-looking older woman whom Bill had never seen in his life.
"Ms. Krafft is expecting you. Go right in."
Bill Ambers opened the imposing door to the division president's office and was immediately taken aback. Gone were the stuffy vestiges of the past -- the big mahogany desk, overblown leather chairs, and oil paintings of dead executives. In their place he saw a simple desk, an ergonomic chair, and a decorating style that could best be described as the "Tennis Hall of Fame": tennis rackets on display in Lucite cases and, as Bill would soon discover, autographed tennis balls arranged in a wooden box that had several shelves and a glass front. Pictures of all the tennis greats -- both men and women -- were personally autographed to "Angie" or "Angela."
The casually dressed division president rose from behind her desk, walked toward Bill, extended her hand, and greeted him warmly.
"Bill, I'm Angela Krafft. It's a pleasure to meet you. I've heard so much about you. Discovered you even won the National Eagle -- 'Big Bird,' I've heard it called."
Bill was immediately placed at ease. "That's right, Ms. Krafft. It was a real honor to win that award."
"Winning is always an honor, Bill. But please feel free to call me Angie. Formality has little place when we're all on the same team."
Bill again scanned the office. She was right. No formality here. Very comfortable. His eyes were once more drawn to the tennis paraphernalia. There were several trophies that he hadn't noticed previously. "You must have quite an interest in tennis," he offered.
"Yes. Actually, I love all sports. But tennis is my game. I played it in high school and college. I had hoped to turn pro, but when I bombed out in the Olympic tryouts, I settled on business."
She's refreshingly candid, Bill thought. Aloud he said, "That must have been a real disappointment."
"It was, but I've learned that a loss in one area of life doesn't mean I can't win in others. The win is very important to me. And that's why I surround myself with winners."
"I see," Bill said with a sudden burst of apprehension about where the conversation was headed.
"Bill, let me explain. I believe everyone in this company is a winner -- or a potential winner. From what I've seen so far, Dyad does not hire junk."
"I see," Bill repeated. Dam, he thought. I wish I had come up with a better response than that!