Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Ask for the Ticket

Current Location: Accenture Office - New York City

This week wraps up my stint as a New Joiner instructor - while my 19 students will soon depart, I don't think they leave without learning a little more than just the prescribed curriculum. Aside from a slew of "other" Accenture information that my co-instructor and I covered, we were able to convince our CEO to drop by for a pep talk.

The visit came about from a common encounter with an uncommon man: one of my male students walked back into our room from the bathroom and asked me if our CEO was in the office. I responded that I didn't know, but asked why he was asking. His response was "I ran into him in the bathroom - does he look like this?" and showed me a picture of him. I laughed, said yes, and shot Bill Green an email depicting this encounter - two hours later he stepped into our classroom.

Now, this may not seem that extraordinary to most people - most would assume a CEO address to a new class could be considered commonplace. My retort simply lies in the sheer size of our company - Accenture currently employs 204,000 people. Based in 2009 census estimates, that would place us at the 104th largest city in the United States. Now, this has no bearing on how powerful or important our CEO is - I am just driving home the point that our new joiner group consists of 19 people out of 204,000 - a mere .093% of our population. To have a direct address from the CEO, let alone to have the CEO in that office on that day, is quite lucky, regardless of what he has to say.

What is more interesting is that this is not the first time that this has happened - in fact, when was in this class and had first joined, the same CEO came and spoke to my start group (which consisted of 4 people). Bill Green happened to be in our home office that day and my instructor decided to email him requesting his presence for 30 minutes or so. He shot an email back saying that he would be in the room in a few minutes and Bill sat down and spoke to us for 30 minutes that day. What our small group conversed about wasn't anything out of the ordinary or even inspiring - we spoke about New England sports and politics. But the act of the conversation said something more - it was a true testament to Stewardship - a core value that Accenture takes pride in. Bill reiterated this point yesterday to my group of students after responding to my request via email once I had learned that he was in the office; although it only lasted for 15 minutes, I can be sure that the memory of being treated with respect and with pride from the top official in a behemoth of a company will live on with the students throughout their Accenture lifetime.

I received a piece of advice from Paul Greenberg about 7 years ago while at Penn when trying to raise money for our water projects in Honduras and Cameroon that has resonated loudly ever since: "Sometimes you just have to ask for the ticket". At the time, this meant "Throw away your pride and tact and just ask me for money; I'll give it to you and so will Doug Glanville sitting right next to you because this group of students are doing something great, something that I can't do even with millions of dollars". That meaning slowly began to break down to its inherent idea as I started to gain world experience. It may be simple, but sometimes you've just got to ask.

A few more notes about my weekend: Highlights: Spending part of Friday night at Click and drinking beers, Saturday's beautiful run in Central Park and the Iowa Game, Sunday's Bears' game (although the Bears got crushed).

Check out the new pictures, especially a few old ones from an album housed at my old home!

Currently reading: Still nothing. Need a book.
Great Quote: "Soon you'll have the badge and the gun and you'll have to go out there and have fun" - Bill Green discussing future responsibilities with New Joiners.
Recent People met: Matt and Alex (friends of Kruse), Chris and Will (Mark's Coworkers).

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