Salad Days, Room 101, and my own Waterloo

by John on June 16, 2010

I remember my first thought right before I walked in to the office. The suite number was 101 and I had just finished re-reading George Orwell’s 1984. I quietly remarked that this was going to be an adventure and boy, I wasn’t too far off.

I became an adult when I crossed the threshold of that office. I enjoyed my time there and actually believed in the corporate culture when we hung it from the wall later in the year. The phrase “Strive for excellence by serving others” really resonated with me. I would look at my face every morning in the bathroom mirror after shaving and say “Who are you going to serve today”? I also learned to take chances and risks. I didn’t view my setbacks as failures at that time, I would out work and out grind my competition. In the end, Room 101 beat me. I was passed over for a promotion at the 11th hour and a divided group of managers were rallying to have me promoted. I didn’t want to win the popular vote, I wanted to be promoted on my own merits. I left shortly after and never looked back. It was a watershed moment in my career and I’m glad I made the choice.

192 years after the battle of Waterloo was lost by Napoleon, I got a chance to embark on a new adventure with a well known company in South Florida. It was an amazing ride. Just like my first recruiting job, I learned just how far I could go, and how tough I really was as a person and a professional. In the end, I learned the lesson of political capital. I also learned how executives are not keen on spending that hard earned capital at times. I didn’t kiss ass, kept to myself and tried to do my absolute best every single day. Eventually, I’ll see some of those senior execs at an upcoming job fair or state conference. I’ll smile and be polite, but on the inside I’ve knocked them off their pedestals.

I still think about the people and the difference that I’ve made in their lives. Hell, even after my departure the organization hired five excellent candidates that I was solely responsible for recruiting.

I smile when I think about that. Even though I suffered through my own personal Waterloo, I still made a difference.

If that’s not an example of personal excellence, then I don’t know what it is…

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