On Snapping Suspenders…
I’ve mentioned several times lately that I had a habit of trying to bring levity to my corporate jobs… just so I could survive in such a cut throat world. Getting an annual budget of 10 Million Dollars approved was a tribulation for everyone but my department. Why? I’ll tell you the story.
Our CFO at one company was a Wise Accountant at the company for 20 years. You did your annual budget presentation to the approval team (it Consisted of he and several senior executives) each November for the following year. Everyone looked at it with dread. Abraham, (we’ll call him) was a no nonsense numbers man with a PhD in mathematics. He was always well dressed and wore suspenders always (we’ll get to that later…). People feared him.
The first year I had to go through the process I marched down to his department and asked for help. I told him I knew training (my department) was a no return on the investment unit and wanted to convince him otherwise. I also wanted to know what his expectations were so as not to waste time in the presentation. He was shocked and told me no one had ever asked him anything in advance. I told him that since I wasn’t an accountant that I would need help projecting the guaranteed raises for the professional associate program I was running at home office. This required amortizing salary for 3 years at various guaranteed statuses. He had his staff run that for me. He and I agreed in advance what the travel budget for the entire company would be since I was also in charge of that. As I left I snapped his suspenders and said…”Wow, Abraham, you aren’t as bad to deal with as they said. He laughed and said…”No one comes for advance input ever. You did the right thing, you can come and snap my suspenders any time you need help.”
We had discussed in advance the other topics and so I had a fixed amount in advance of that meeting. The day of the fateful meeting all parties showed up in the intimidating board room with all the stoic pin strip suits glaring at us. I presented it and in 2 minutes my $10 million budget was approved. One VP began yelling at about 8 decibels….”I’ve been here 20 years you never approve my budget that fast.” Abraham replied “…you never prepare like she did!” That was that.
Who knew something as simple and fun as snapping suspenders would ensure my budget with ease for the next 4 years. It allowed me to foster a professional but relaxed relationship with a department everyone feared.
My point is that you don’t have to swing a sledge hammer and act superior to get excellent, non-stressful results. Sometimes, levity and building a comfortable relationship with other departments is just the right thing to do.
Namaste, The Queen Cronista