“Make a difference.” I don’t know when I first picked up that mantra, but I do know it’s been with me a long, long time. It’s led to impactful—and memorable—career crescendos. I’ll mention just one to drive home my point. It highlights the power of resolve when you decide to make a difference—and it also helps explain how I got from grad student managing a jazz club, to the post of marketing leader for the world’s largest shipping line.
True story: I was managing and tending bar one afternoon when I heard the term “change management” waft from a group of sales executives who were holding a team meeting off to the side of the room. It was my field of interest before I went on sabbatical to get my masters in poetry. Hearing the term got my attention, and I listened to the whole presentation. Afterwards I approached the team’s leader and without provocation let him know, point-by-point what was wrong with his approach and how to fix it. Needless to say, he was surprised to hear this coming from a random guy working at a restaurant. But he was also impressed enough to hire me.
His name was Theron and he was my first boss at Maersk. Crashing that meeting made a difference. In my time at Maersk, I’ve earned marketing a seat at the table, launched a new shipping line and grown a world-class team from scratch.
Making an ass out of myself made a difference. It showed me how much was possible and what I was capable of. After that, there was simply no going back. I just realized that if I could make a difference in every single thing I do, why on earth wouldn’t I? Why would I waste my time doing anything else?
I know other people who are the same way. They see problems and fix them. They see opportunities and run with them. I’ve hired them and lead them along the way. And I’ve seen what happens when you get a lot of these people together on a team working toward a cause. It’s poetry. And it’s powerful.
I try to be differential in everything I do—whether it’s leading my team, supporting a great cause or raising two little girls. It’s impossible for me not to. Once I saw the results, it got kind of addictive.