Monday, April 23, 2007

Others' Futures....What's in Store for Me?

The postings on this site are my own and don’t necessarily represent IBM’s positions, strategies or opinions.

I had a poignant day. After 37 years of service, my former manager Bob will retire from IBM at the end of the week.

Today's Learning Center Fireplace Lounge kickoff of the Leader Readiness program would be the last one while he was still an IBMer.

"Would you mind coming to it, so that you can be acknowledged?" I asked.


Leader Readiness is the program I'm responsible for worldwide, and I created a certificate for him that I framed:

Bob, 143,000 managers and
415 clients have your team
and you to thank for their
leadership development success.

Thank you for 16 years of
premier leadership of
IBM Management Development!

We ate lunch prior to the kickoff at 1 pm and I asked Bob about proud moments from his 37-year career. As I'm writing this now, I'm reminded that when Bob joined IBM, I was in the middle of my nursery-school career, just four years old.

He spoke of having done a project with the University of Michigan among others, and I asked him when he had been on campus.

"In the early-eighties."

"That was my alma mater and you and I might have walked by each other....Imagine...."

Bob smiled.

"Over the weekend, we had dinner with some dear friends, one of whom retired from IBM several years ago already, and as she and I were talking, and as you were discussing your proud moments, I thought: I wonder which moments will stand out for me by, God willing, at the end of a long career....My service counts for nearly 17 years due to the joint-venture time, but it's really only been nearly 11 years....If we're generous, and count the 17 years, then if I work for a total of 37 like you, I wonder what I'll do in the next 20 years."

Bob smiled some more.

During the dinner party, my friend Carol offered me a number of facilitator guides for leadership development training that she had used as a facilitator at IBM in the '90s; I'm eager to compare them with what we deliver today. The topics, I'm sure, are classic, though I'm positive that we weren't talking about the value of a globally intergrated enterprise then to the degree we do now.

We met at our friends' Deb's and Mia's house, along with our partners and a fourth couple, Kathy and Sheila. Carol offered to show me the binders before it got dark and so we excused ourselves from the gang on the deck in the backyard and went to her car-trunk. Generously, Carol let me have all of the notebooks. As I poured through the various program guides, I actually lost track of time a bit.

I was delighted by the gift, which we transferred to my trunk. We came back to Mia, Deb, Carmen, Pat, Sheila and Kathy and Sheila looked at me and said, "Is your shirt buttoned properly?" I looked down, horrified that I had buttoned it incorrectly. How could Pat have missed that?

Sheila laughed and said, "No, I was just joking with you, since the two of you were gone for so long!"


The future is so unknowable. I received my Social Security statement last week; during my junior year of high school, I began working just a tiny bit, in 1981, at the recreation room of the Stamford Jewish Community Center. I looked at my 1981 earnings, and at my 2006 earnings, and then showed Pat, my partner, who said, "You're earning a thousand times as much as you made back then."

"Do you think in another 25 years, I can earn a thousand times what I'm making now?"

Pat smiled, and said, "Why not?"

The windows are open in my home office and it's beyond time to return to final refinements of tomorrow night's book presentation, but I want to pause for just another moment to feel the breeze from the open windows in my right ear, on my neck and arms.

I'm reminded of the title of the blog a new friend referred me to, "Ticklingclouds." What a great name. I wish I could keep letting them tickle me while I kept blogging the night away....Alternately, I find this blog the most wonderful treat and a bedeviling tool for procrastination.

Some more thoughts on the future:

At dinner, of outdoor-grilled-by-Pat chicken, broccoli, hummus and salad, Pat said, "My brother told me he read that even if we figured out a way to replace all of our parts, most of us would not last beyond 500 or 600 years, as an accident would kill us ultimately....You think of illnesses, but not accidents."

She was thinking particularly of David Halberstam, who she admired and saw speak, who she said died earlier today in a car accident in San Francisco.

What do you hope your future holds?

1 comment:

Scott said...

Good to check in and hear your stories.