Last Updated Aug 15, 2009 7:18 PM EDT
That's right; you too can make idiotic mistakes and still become a successful executive. So why air my own dirty laundry? A few reasons:
- They're funny.
- It's cathartic for me and I think heartening for aspiring executives to know that successful ones do dumb things too.
- Why not? Besides, I did most of them early in my management career ... but not all of them!
- After National Semiconductor acquired Cyrix, National's CEO - Brian Halla - introduced me as the new VP of corporate marketing (same job I had at Cyrix) at a companywide quarterly meeting. It would have been a nice gesture -- had I actually been there. Not realizing what a big deal it was, I skipped the meeting to get some work done. Bad idea.
- Way back when, before sexual harassment litigation was a big thing, after-hours at a tradeshow in Atlanta, I and a few other executives of a public company took a couple of our female employees - at their request, I may add - to a gentlemen's club. No harm was done and we all had a good time, but what the hell we were thinking?
- As CEO of a startup during the tech bubble, while pitching a prominent Silicon Valley venture capitalist to raise some funds, I gripped a mechanical sample of a silicon device too tightly and it shattered in my hands. Reliability was supposed to be a key selling point of the technology. We didn't get the money.
- Back in the day, before we used computers to give presentations, we used transparencies on overhead projectors. I was sitting in a relatively high-level customer meeting, waiting for the sales manager to finish his introductions, when I realized that I - the featured speaker - had forgotten to bring my transparencies. Talk about embarrassing.
- Ten years ago, when you edited a file somebody sent you as a Lotus email attachment, forget to save it to a local disk and shut down your PC, you lost the changes. Well, I had worked on an important pitch for days, thinking I was saving it when I wasn't. When I rebooted my computer, I lost the entire pitch and had to stay up all night recreating it. Years later there was an episode of Friends where that happened to Ross.