Ritual Confessions

February 3, 2008

Upshot of today’s interview

Filed under: Uncategorized — elissakaren @ 6:45 am

So I was sitting in this godforsaken Starbucks out on the edge of Hillsboro, waiting for the owners of this company to show up. Strangely, I felt none of the anxiety that I’d had before the ad agency interview. I felt nothing but a real conviction that I knew exactly how to build their business.

When the two of them walked in, I looked at the one whom I immediately knew to be the CEO and thought, My God, he’s nothing but a baby. The other man looked somewhat older — I put him in his mid-thirties. After shaking hands with both men, I turned to the first (a native of Eastern Europe; let’s call him Vlad) and said, “You look very young.”

“Well, thank you,” he said, smiling enigmatically.

I couldn’t contain a smile of my own, one of tender amusement that I hoped he wouldn’t find emasculating. “May I ask how old you are?”

There was a reluctant pause, then: “Twenty-three,” he told me.

This information inspired about seventeen levels of dismay. Here it is, I thought. The dreaded day I knew would come — the day I’m being evaluated for a job by someone fifteen years younger than me. Also, as I’ve mentioned, I had hoped that working for this company might restore some of the excitement I’d felt while working for George. But for better or for worse, a lot of the fun in working at that company lay in the dynamic between George and his employees. George was overbrimming with conviction and he could have raised the morale of road kill. When the company was still small, he loved to treat the entire staff to dinner at glamorous night spots and he wasn’t happy until everyone was plastered. He was a millionaire and he threw his money around like confetti, capitalizing the company’s first two years entirely out of pocket.

I was halfway through high school before Vlad was even born, I thought. I’ll never look up to him… I won’t have even a harmless crush on him. He won’t mentor me or coach me or teach me. He probably has no money. If he has any, he’ll be afraid to spend it.

On the other hand, I thought, he has a good idea. And so many empires these days are being built by youngsters. He needs me, because I can sell his idea to the world. I can teach him things.

But it won’t be any fun!

But it still might be worthwhile.

But these two have no charisma!

But they seem to have sincerity. Something George had in very short supply.

Sighing inwardly, I took full control of the interview, and they sheepishly, even gratefully, surrendered it. I told them why certain plans of theirs were misguided and they readily agreed to defer to my assessment. I asked them questions that they admitted they hadn’t fully considered. We talked for three hours and by the end of it they had basically pledged to do anything I said.

But I don’t want to tell them what to do! Where’s George?

For me, the next step is to sit down with them again next week and to have Nick join us. George’s vision was brilliant but it turned out to be much harder to execute (especially at a profit) than anyone expected. As for Vlad’s idea, I fully understand the business model, but have no knowledge of the logistics. I trust Nick to know whether it can be done. I’m not going to make a decision one way or the other until I hear his evaluation.



  1. Veddy interestink. I was looking around CL yesterday and saw what must have been their ad (they posted it in a couple of different categories, yes?) and after reading it, I was even more curious as to how your interview would go, as it seemed quite apparent, from the way the ad was phrased, that they’re hoping to hire someone who knows more about the job than they do or ever will.

    Wouldn’t it be nifty, though, if it were a viable prospect and you and Nick could work together as you used to do? I was chuckling to myself while reading this, as this is the type of situation that wonderfully demonstrates the differences between your personality and mine … my dream job would be to walk into a situation where I knew more than the young owners of the company,and basically take over. But then, my real dream is to be the benevolent totalitarian dictator of a small country, so you can see the parallel there, I’m sure.

    Comment by davidrochester — February 3, 2008 @ 5:01 pm

  2. I doubt George was born with charisma, and I’m sure someone had to teach him all the things you admired about him. George taught you, now maybe it’s time to pay it forward and possibly build something you can be proud of in the process. I do think you’re wise to have Nick look at it, before getting in too deep.

    Comment by Shawn W — February 4, 2008 @ 4:46 am

  3. Elissa, the universe has gifted me with a number of friends and co-workers very much younger than myself in the past few years, and I have been in the position of deferring to someone young enough to be my child. Yes–if you decide to get involved here you may be, technically, in the teaching position. But I’d parallel it to how you are in the teaching position with Charlotte. You teach her, yes–but she teaches you, too, just not the things you would have expected or been able to imagine.

    Go carefully, yes–but be open to possibilities. 🙂

    Comment by thelittlefluffycat — February 4, 2008 @ 2:56 pm

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