Down from on high.

So I recently had a store visit from a regional VP (my boss’s boss). I had some time to prep and get ready for this meeting. We cleaned, brushed up on policy, and did our general all around “lets get ready for vistors” routine.

Boy was I not prepared.

So, I like to think that I am not a dumb person. I have been tested (“My mother had me tested”) and I have performed very well in high school and college. I do well with numbers and can adapt well to almost all situations.

This was not enough.

So, the visit started off well with my boss showing me off, being a great store in most of the areas, and showing my skills. The VP seemed happy with the results. We then went into the backroom and looked at the numbers. P&L and other business acumen that I have a little knowledge on but not too much. That was about to change.

A lot.

I had my areas where I thought I could improve on and the VP asked why I had those areas. I gave my explanation and he said “Let us look at this differently.” He then proceeded to do more math than a college algebra teacher. For the next hour and thirty minutes I was shown my opportunities and strengths in ways I never even saw. I am good at math but he was GOOD at math. He made me feel dumb.

I don’t do well with that.

Now, it was never his intention to make me feel dumb but I had trouble following him. He would stop, back up and go over it slower. I would finally get it and he would drill me on it until I could teach him. It has been a long time since I have gotten schooled on things, but boy did I.

The rest of the visit is still in a fog as I was scrabbling to keep up. We did the usual, change this move that, though this time it had more purpose. I slipped up a few times with my words and managed to forget how to spell something and had to look it up with him watching me. I don’t get intimidated much anymore but my cages were rattled. Both he and my manager left and my brain turned to mush.

I have since recovered enough to post but I am still sorting it all out. Its been a week and I am still rebuilding.

There was a pony to hug. And I needed it.


One thought on “Down from on high.

  1. I seldom comment on blogs, because if I feel passionate enough to comment, my comment turns into a blog of its own. Such is the case now. Please forgive and feel free to TL;DR.

    I know it was a rough day. Let me try to put your experience in a different light.

    You weren’t “schooled”, you were blessed.

    I started my I.T. career in the Hardware side of the house. I was good at it, and I enjoyed walking into a room full of equipment and fixing the problem. I was fortunate to work with people who were MUCH better than I, and were willing to take the time to help me learn.

    When I moved to the Software side of the house, I wrote code like I repaired hardware – that is, I saw a business problem, and created a program to fix it. The code ran fine, did the job. Finally (after a few years), one of the business partners sat down with me and explained that being able to write code is not as valuable to the company as I thought. They could hire programmers right out of school (or job shop the task overseas) a lot cheaper.

    Was I being told that I was redundant? About to be released? Yes, in a roundabout way. Then a wonderful thing happened. The Director from the business side took the time to show me that I really needed to learn about the Business – what info is needed by management to make their decisions. To provide this, I needed to spend my time living with the business, figuring out their needs, helping them run the company. People outside of I.T. spent a LOT of hours teaching me the mystical arts of business analysis, market research, competitive analysis, financial reporting, etc. Teaching me was not their job, but they recognized that helping me understand their needs meant getting better, more useful info to help them do their job. In the process, I picked up several useful skills.

    Your regional VP just did you a favor. He took the time to let you know that you could being doing better, then showed you HOW you could do better. You may not have picked up 100% of what he showed you, but his actions were a clear message that he wanted you to understand your business at a higher level. Is he better at math? Okay, because he needs to be better. Do you need to be better? Do you need to understand your business at a higher level? Your call.

    The point of my rambling (and you knew there had to be one somewhere) is you can look on this experience as embarrassing, or feel that you were just given a signal that opportunity awaits you to move in a different realm of the business world, should you so choose.


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