Friday Rant: My Friend, The Boss From Hell

Earlier this week, I attended a black tie event for a mostly male group that I'm a member of in Chicago. This particular detail is relevant given the fact that most such non-charity events that involve men getting together inevitably results in intoxication and progressive general mayhem, depending on what hours of the evening -- or morning -- said affairs stretch into. For this particular event, I happened upon an old friend over cocktails, early in the evening. This gentleman is not in procurement per se, but he's an operations guy who works for a professional services firm and spends most of his week on the road. He's also fairly senior as well (though not a rainmaker by any self-admitted stretch). Let's just say that he's good at what he does and he's definitely paid his dues over the years -- and as you'll see in a minute, he believes others should as well.

Prior to the event, I had set a strict limit in how much I would partake in the evening's general liquid festivities (having a blog and tons of client work hang over your shoulder is enough to make the prospect of a hangover even more dreadful than usual). My friend, of course - some actually believe this man to be the devil, given his ability rip such temperance plans as mine into tiny pieces and throw them out the window with a swizzle stick -- had different intentions for me (and himself). But even he had limits.

You see, he had a client meeting later the next morning that required him to fly to a tiny airport only served by regional jets, and then drive 90 minutes to meet with the local management team at a key manufacturing facility. By the time he told me this, it was close to 9:30 PM and we were both already well into the evening with at least another few hours to go. I thought to myself: how can this guy do it? Getting on a 6:00 AM flight after only a few hours of sleep and then having to rush to a rental counter -- this airport did not have anything you could use a frequent renter program on to avoid the queues -- and drive on back country roads to get to some plant in the middle of nowhere, and then present to the local management team, all with the residual merriment of last night pounding in his head? I knew my friend was as hardcore as they say, but even that hullabaloo is something to admire.

But he had a contingency plan up his sleeve. He had purposely chosen a highly ambitious young Chicago MBA to be on his team. Unfortunately -- for the whippersnapper -- this engagement leader would have nothing to do with getting to the airport at the crack of dawn. Rather, his younger unfortunate team member would catch the 6:00 AM flight, wait in line for the rental car, and then pick up my friend at his gate the moment his 7:00 AM flight landed, just over an hour later, allowing true door-to-door service. Then, the boss-from-hell could also catch up on 90 minutes of sleep lost from the night before, during the drive.

So there you have it, for all you ambitious types who want to break into the operations consulting world. Forget Six Sigma. And don't memorize all the nuances of a particular firm's seven step sourcing process. Just go fetch the rental car and let me sleep off my "business meeting," will you ... ?

- Jason Busch

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