The best boss I ever had was an absolute madman.
We all called him Madman Jack.
I worked for him out of the World Financial Center
in New York when I was an analyst in the investment banking unit of Merrill Lynch.
He worked endless hours, was always in over his head and had 10 things going on at once.
He was always disheveled, in his unorganized paper-strewn office and I usually found him changing into a new shirt at 8 in the morning because he had slept in the one he wore the day before.
Every other office like his, with a Statue of Liberty view, was inhabited by calm, cool, clinical types with nothing out of place and a sense of studious seriousness and decorum.
And they all hated Madman Jack.
For one big reason.
He made things happen.
The guy took action like nobody I had ever seen then or since.
Whereas every other banker would have one or two grunt analysts like me in their office at a time, he would have six.
If there was a new area of opportunity to carve out he would take it.
And I would protest.
The conversation usually went like this…
I would say “But, we don’t do…” or “I don’t have…” or “How do I..”
and he would reply with…
“Just get it done!”
“Make it happen!”
It was both frightening and inspiring.
We would go to meetings with clients and do presentations that I knew were less than good but it didn’t matter.
Because we would get there first.
While our competitors would be making everything perfect and just so, we would just show up.
And Madman Jack would lead the meeting and say things that were flat out wrong WRONG! but it didn’t matter because he would learn and never make that same mistake again.
One day he came into my office and said, “I’m sending you to London to analyze financial institution merger and acquisition trends…”
“But I don’t know…”
I did and he joined me later and Merrill Lynch established their first M&A unit overseas.
I have never forgotten the lesson, which I sometimes fail at miserably, that above all else, what is most important for business success, is to TO DO SOMETHING.
Even if it’s wrong.
Even if people laugh and make fun of you.
Like Madman Jack’s fellow bankers.
Oh boy did they.
But that all ended.
On the day they were all working for him.