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Executive Punking

Aviator C

Our tributes to Colleen continue with a slightly different approach. 


In other posts this week, you have read a lot about how Colleen Barrett is a wonderful Leader and a giving person, and this is all true.  In regard to her amazing “business talents,” I think the most impressive is her intuition.  I’ve never seen a person with her ability to forecast the way an issue will play out.  Oh yeah, there is also her uncanny ability to know what is going on in your life, even if she hasn’t seen you for a month.  Quite simply, Colleen is an amazing and inspiring Leader.  She has been a profound and amazing influence on my business and personal life.  While all of that is true and more, I want to share a bit of her devilish side as my blog tribute because I think it offers a glimpse into Colleen as a person who is also fun to be around.

Here’s the deal.  Colleen is a world class practical joker, and if she hasn’t been part of the joke, she still is “rolling on the floor” laughing at a joke "designed" by someone else.  However, when Colleen is in on the joke (or has planned the joke), and you are the victim, you will truly know that you have been punked by the master.

My favorite Colleen “punking” happened about seven or eight years ago, not too long after I had begun working in the Executive Office (EO).  At the time, the Company was having an incentive program for Employees, and the grand prizes were Ford Excursions (with Eddie Bauer interiors, no less).  Department heads were responsible for personally notifying their winning Employee(s), and Colleen is the Department Head for the EO.  (In order to protect my innocence, I have changed the names of the guilty.)

In the days leading up to the Friday when the winners would be notified, one of my Coworkers, “Rob,” kept bragging in a kidding manner about how Colleen was going to call him on Friday to award the car.  His bravado about winning became a running joke, and “his” upcoming phone call took on a life of its own..  Another Coworker, “Kara,” decided that enough is enough, and she let Colleen in on the bravado.  The two plotted Rob’s come-uppance.  

All morning and into early afternoon, his phone had lacked the internal  caller ID, “Colleen Barrett,” that makes most Employees’ hearts skip a beat whenever it appears on their phone.  Mr. Confidence was in another part of the EO when “the” call finally came, and Sam, one of our Administrative Coordinators, went frantically looking for Rob, the man now known as Mr. OVERconfidence.  After a week of being bombarded with Rob’s unfounded certainty, the whole office started buzzing when Sam screamed, “Rob, Colleen is on your phone, and she wants to speak with you." Many folks knew they were about to see a fabulous grand prize being awarded.

Breathlessly, Rob ran back to his office, picked up his phone, and blurted out, “Hello Colleen.”  We all knew that visions of car keys and Eddie Bauer interiors were dancing in Rob’s eyes.  Colleen then asked him, “How are you doing, Rob?”  

“Fine” was the quivering, I wish that she would please get to the point answer from Rob.  “Well great, I just wanted to wish you a happy weekend,” Colleen replied, and the phone went dead.  

Rob was dumbstruck.  “In 20 years of working for her, Colleen has never called to wish me a good weekend,” Rob told us, while all of us in on the joke were biting our lips and stifling guffaws.  We all have that area of our minds that is designed to calculate when the “next shoe” drops, and I’m sure Rob was wondering if he should call Colleen back to see if she had forgotten to reveal the big news, but he let that idea die.

No one is safe from Colleen’s cunning mind, but more importantly, it feels great that a Leader in her position not only is willing to have some fun, but more importantly has a relationship with her Employees and knows them as individuals and not as titles.  Along with so much of her generosity, Colleen's gift of humor is a wonderful and personal gift, of which I am so lucky to have been a recipient!

The Dallas Morning News has a great story about Colleen today.