My nifty Sunrise calendar app tells me today is Boss’ Day. I didn’t know that was a real thing, but I live by a “if it’s on the calendar, it’s a thing” code so I’m rolling with it. I actually have quite a bit to say on this topic, as I’ve had the good fortune of having three great bosses in a row, and the even greater fortune of calling them each friends (and jerks) as well.
Below I talk about Jeff Rummer, Geoff Deakin, & Jesse Noyes, three men who haven’t just been “cool” to me, but have gone above and beyond to nurture my career. Seeing as how the word “career” wasn’t even in my vocabulary as recently as Fall 2011, that’s not something I take lightly. Here we go.
I profiled Jeff at length (and also his awesome wife Rachel) previously, but was reminded just the other day by my nifty Timehop app that it has been exactly three years since a conversation I had with Jeff jumpstarted my life. If that sounds overly dramatic or mushy, it’s not. Almost overnight I went from wasting away in a bland, corporate sales environment I was wholly and absolutely unfit for in Chicago, to feeling the Colorado sunshine on my face with a sense of purpose. I was working for someone that I trusted creatively and someone who understood my value.
What made Jeff a great boss, is that he was a great teacher. He didn’t overlook my inadequacies or lacking of certain skills, or business thought or vocabulary. He knew I was missing a lot. So he taught me. I became a better writer, designer, coder, budgeter and critical thinker under Rummer’s guidance. Really, I became a marketer under Rummer’s guidance. My abilities would be further realized down the line, but Rummer helped refine them in me. So Jeff? Thanks, jerk.
At some point Rummer left. After realizing this didn’t open the doors it should have for me, I was left planning my own exit strategy. I reached out to what I call the “Why Don’t We Still All Work Together?” Club, a group consisting of now 15 or so talented marketers who have found success in companies other than the one we all worked together for. Among that club is Geoff Deakin who scooped me up to be a community manager at his company. Again, he recognized something in me and was ready to let me try some things I couldn’t before.
During my time working for Deakin I came to appreciate his ability to manage personalities and conversations. Many times he would get a riled up Coate (or an entire riled up department) in his office with complaints/brilliant ideas.
Somehow Deakin could not only absorb that chaos but pull some relevance out of it. He made us feel heard. That, or he was just really damn good at making us feel like we were heard. Either way, I came to appreciate the bigger picture, strategic thinking. He taught me to pause a bit more. Absorb a bit more. React a bit more calmly. I also appreciated thousands of Simpsons references and his photoshop abilities on long conference calls. It was a pleasure working for him…and now with him (more on that later). So Geoff? Thanks, jerk.
If Jeff Rummer and Geoff Deakin helped refine me, Jesse Noyes was the one who let me loose. Beyond the hundreds of things I’ve learned about marketing from Jesse (before I worked for him and since), I learned so many things about management. He has a very “hands off, trust your team” approach to things, which works because he knows how to hire a team. What that approach does is it tells a team you’re willing to invest in them. It says “I believe you’re talented, I believe you know what you’re doing. That’s why you’re here. Now go do it.”
That approach has done wonders for me. With plenty of guidance from Jesse when needed, I’ve able to achieve more in one year working for him than all other years combined. Jesse has helped me cement my position as an authority on something, and he’s also taught me what it looks like to make adjustments. Jesse is a master of adjustments. If something’s off, we tweak it. Jesse’s also taught me how to look forward. I, for the first time, have a clearer outlook. Not with 100% clear, but my 3-5 year plan no longer looks like this:
So Jesse? Thanks, jerk.
BONUS ROUND: At the time of this writing, I now have the pleasure of pushing forward in my career with two of the three jerks mentioned above. Deakin has brought his talents and Simpsons references to join Jesse and I, which is sorta cool, too I guess.