Dear Fellow Executive,
If you’d walked past Mac Vallely a year ago, you’d have kept on walking.
Average height. Thinning some on top, getting a little thick around the middle. His car is five years old, as are most of his suits. Gets along with everyone at work, but has no mentor, or protégé. If you had to describe him as a color, it’d probably be beige.
But there’s one thing that makes Mac special. He’s good at his job. Scratch that – he’s great at his job. He is universally respected by both his colleagues and his bosses. So when an assistant VP slot – the #3 job in the company – opened up last year, Mac figured he was a shoo-in. After all, he had glowing evaluations, a solid track record. He had worked hard, and gotten results. In short, as he told his wife, he’d earned this promotion.
A month after the job opening was announced, and after having what he thought was a go-through-the-motions interview, Mac bumped into the senior VP in the coffee room. “Hi, Vince, how’s it going? Did you want to sit down and talk about the job sometime?” he asked.
“Job?” the boss replied.
“Yeah, the assistant VP.”
“Right, right,” came the response. “Let me get back to you on that, Vallely. I’ve been absolutely swamped with the Lundberg deal lately.” And he was gone in a swirl of styrofoam cups and nondairy creamer.
At first, Mac took the older man’s comments at face value. But later, back at his desk, he started to put things together. Vince had always addressed him as “Mac” before – never by his last name. And the Lundberg contract had been put to bed three weeks ago – and it was Mac who’d done most of the heavy lifting. Then, Mac recalled seeing Vince at a local restaurant with Gregg Ellis, a glad-handing colleague whose work was often sloppy and incomplete (unless he got Mac’s help).
“Damn it,” Mac realized. “He’s lying to me.” His legs felt weak, and a knot formed in his stomach. If you had to describe him as a color, it’d probably be gray.
Sure enough, two days later the announcement came down from on high: Gregg Ellis was the new assistant vice president. Mac put on a good face, warmly shaking Gregg’s hand and smiling when his new boss described Mac as “my strong right hand.”
“I’d like to give him a strong right hand,” he thought, but kept those feelings to himself.
At least until he got on the 5:43 train out of the city.
And that’s when I heard Mac’s story.