I’ve always known I wanted to get my MBA. Why? Because I’ve always wanted to be RICH and in charge. That’s right: I exited the womb with my eye on the prize, and I couldn’t be less sorry about it.
So off to corporate finishing school I go… if only to ensure I don’t end up like this guy:
But the bidness learning doesn’t end at whatever quantitative flimfammery I’ll be subjected to for the next two years. To really learn the ways of a boss, it’s important to glean wisdom from the very people makin’ it rain.
Which brings me to one of my favorite workaday internet distractions: the Corner Office series on the New York Times website.
Yup, while all you future middle-managers are over at TMZ reading about whatever sadsack former child star totaled their Range on Sunset today, I’m boning up on the little-known secrets of our country’s business elite.
You see, if I’m going to own an ocean-side Scarface-esque beach house in LBI, a ski-in/ski-out lodge at Stratton, four jet skis and a live-in dog sitter by the time I’m 35… I’ve got some stalking to do.
But before I feature some of my favorite golden wisdom nuggets from Corner Office, a caveat: I only read the interviews with female execs. Why? Because I’ve seen my fair share of not-that-awesome dudes who’ve made it in business. Successful women, on the other hand, are ball-busters across the board. And aWOmen to that!
Note to self #1: Slap on that doofy outfit and tee up!
Q. What do you consider the most important leadership lessons you’ve learned?
A. Early on, it was clear to me that if I was going to build a successful business, it was going to be about building relationships. I figured out that relationships were built in business on the golf course, and that’s when golf started becoming such an important part of my culture, even though I had never golfed before. I had never been an athlete.
[…] I started with lessons at a local driving range with a golf pro. Then I started to play in these golf outings and saw the kind of relationship-building that it allowed me to do. I started to get competitive, and I took more lessons. I was introduced to an L.P.G.A. pro, and she started giving me lessons and I got better.
Note to self #2: Being the youngest child makes you automatically awesome.
Q. Have you always been an observer?
A. I’m the youngest of four. The other three are very close in age, and then there’s a big gap to me. I never wanted to be the little sister who nobody wants to bring around, so I think it started there. I would watch them to figure out: “O.K., what do they do? How can I be a little bit more grown up so that I fit into their world?” So I’m naturally one who listens more and talks less. It was a plus in terms of watching people’s leadership skills.
Note to self #3: Don’t be an unfriendly, anal biatch.
Q. Were there other early lessons for you as a manager?
A. A great lesson for me was to learn to open up more and let people get to know me, because I can be very buttoned up. And that tends to be somewhat intimidating. If you want to be approachable and if you want people to let down their guard, you have to be a bit more casual. And people want to know your personality. They want to know what you like to do on the weekend. It doesn’t need to always be about work. Learning to humanize myself as a leader was something that was really important. After that, it was a different level of engagement and interaction with my team.
Note to self #4: You can be an unfriendly, anal bitch… as long as you’re passive aggressive about it!
One lesson I learned is from a phrase I picked up called M.R.I. It means the “most respectful interpretation” of what someone’s saying to you. I don’t need everyone to be best friends, but I need to have a team with M.R.I.
Q. Can you elaborate?
A. You can say anything to anyone, as long as you say it the right way.
Maybe you need to preface it with: “I’m just curious, and I want to understand what you’re saying better. Right now, my point of view is quite different. So can you help me understand why you don’t want to do this, or why you wanted to do this?”