Shortly after beginning my career in the financial services industry, I joined a company which was based back east. Although I worked in one of the Los Angeles offices, the corporate headquarters was located in New Jersey – which meant a slightly different company culture and/or form of communication that I have been accustomed.
Doing business in the Los Angeles area during the late 80s/early 90s was the height of political correctness. This was the environment in which I entered the workforce and the landscape in which I learned quickly how to maneuver. However, my new employer was basically the contradiction of political correctness.
It took a few years for me to elevate myself through several levels of the corporate ladder before I truly appreciated the honesty which accompanied management’s behavior. I directly or indirectly worked for three different individuals. All three gentlemen came from New Jersey and ironically all three gentlemen’s last name ended in a vowel. They were probably the most passionate and focused individuals that I have ever worked with.
There was a definite stereotype that appeared fitting. They were loud, quick-tempered and would not hesitate to tear you apart in public or private. Political correctness had no place in the management halls of this company. Although profanity was never found in a politically correct environment, in this environment the expletives flew abundantly.
I recall the first time my boss let the expletives fly. One of my counterparts came to me immediately following the meeting to get my opinion. Since I personally do not curse, he assumed that I would have been offended. I explained to him that my personal lack of using profanity is not due to any religious belief or even being a prude. Quite frankly, I had a horrible speech impediment as a child requiring about 10 years of therapy. As a typical teenager, curse words would sometimes slip out at inappropriate times. One such incident occurred as I was in the presence of my doctor. He quickly asked why I would have invested 10 years to be able to speak and then waste the ability on such lazy words. I have not cursed since (except on rare and extremely appropriate situations – or simply lack control).
My bosses though turned profanity into an art form. These men could use the “F” word as a noun, verb, adjective, and adverb all in the same sentence. They would deliver their statements with passionate and at a decibel that could usually be heard two city blocks. They would deliver their message sitting across the desk or two inches from your nose. Man……how I loved these guys.
From an outsider looking in, the environment probably appeared hostile or at least an extremely stressful environment (which at times it could be). However, there were no hidden agendas. How many of us have worked in a very polite environment just to be stabbed in the back by someone you trusted? How many times have people believed that they were partnered with someone toward a common goal just to later find out that there was a hidden agenda? How many times do you hear the term in the Politically Correct World that “it’s not personal, it’s business”? The statement would never have to be said if a behavior did not turn it personal.
With these men, there was no double-talk. There were never two faces to one Manager. What you saw was what you got. Their intentions were always clear. Yes……there were situations in which two of us may have screamed for 7 hours straight (well I probably only accounted for 15% of the screaming while he was quiet taking a breath). But, at the end of the day, he would come up to me and give me a hug and kiss on the cheek while he wished my family well (and he truly meant it). This was a true example of the separation of business and personal. We may have passionately disagreed but at the end of the day, we respected each other and cared for them as a person.
Regardless of one’s vocabulary, it appears the people who are truly successful long-term (in business and in life) are those individuals who people know they can trust at face-value.
Husband, father, coffee connoisseur and lover of all things hockey. At 51 I sometimes wonder have I done enough. I have been married to my best friend for 30 years. She knows all my faults and loves me anyway, As a father of “almost always” perfect boys, I am always surprised at what life has to offer. It is messy, scary, thrilling, and always fun.