Who, Me?

Many years ago, when two of my bosses took me to lunch and asked me to be the firm’s COO, I experienced one of those funny sitcom episodes.

The one where the guy being asked a question looks to either side, and realizes that the question is actually directed at him, not someone else.

After all, what did I know about operational or financial management?  What do most of us know early in our careers?

Not much.

Perhaps that says something about the standard curriculum in design school, but of more concern to me here is the preparation we get after we’re hired to take on management duties in the firm.

Or lack of preparation, I should say.

We ask talented young graduates to take a seat in front of a computer, and draw.  Design.  Illustrate.  Manage.

And they do.  They work very hard.

And that’s great.  They get to start a career in an exciting field, and the firm gains a valuable employee.

Trouble is, the years go by.

Amazingly fast.

Years later, these talented young people are no longer young.  They’ve likely now been doing the same job, more or less, for a long time.

Sure, they may now be leading other, younger staff, or even leading projects.  If they are still around.  And if they’ve been given opportunities to grow.

But, at some point, a key member of the firm will depart or retire.  Suddenly, a big void opens up which will have to be filled.  The firm will look around the studio, and realize that no one is prepared to fill it.

The firm may have to look outside for a replacement.  Or someone in the firm will get tapped on the shoulder.

That’s what happened to me.

I accepted the job, anyway.  And it was the right decision.

So, now we will begin to explore all those things that I wish I had known when I began.

I hope you’ll stick around.



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