Friday, December 31, 1999

a week with no CEO

The good news: I didn't see the CEO once this week.

The bad news: this only confirms the CEO's mercurial nature.

The previous week, the short week of the lunar new year, we had only three work days, and when I saw the CEO that week, he said he wanted to see me every day for a couple hours the following week (i.e., this past week). My boss predicted that this wouldn't happen because, in his view, the CEO had bitten off more than he could chew. The man still looks good for his age, but he's no longer a spring chicken, and he apparently has a habit of being too ambitious at the beginning of every year. It seems, at least for the moment, that the boss was right: I didn't see the CEO even once this past week. That doesn't mean next week will be the same; if anything, I expect the CEO to be in my face with renewed vigor. The CEO gave me nothing new to do, so the boss set me to working on creating alternative chapters of the CEO's previous textbooks. My first attempt at this ended in failure, I guess, because after he'd had a chance to review my material (I wasn't at that meeting), the CEO told the boss he wanted something more "fun." So I've been going at it again, doing an alternate version of a different textbook chapter this time. We've got role-play scenarios, various games, a simple crossword puzzle (these textbook chapters cover only three vocab words apiece, so the crossword generator that I used produced only an H-shaped puzzle), and creative fill-in-the-blanks scenarios. I didn't remove any of the ten exercises I'd written for the first chapter, but now, I've got seven more creative exercises that can be interspersed between and among the more serious drills.

So the boss has been meeting with the CEO because the CEO has insisted on having his usual late-night meetings: start at 8 p.m., end around 11 p.m. or even later. I told the boss I wouldn't be going to those meetings after having already spent nine hours in the office. The last thing I want to do is start a precedent by showing the CEO how "soft" my boundaries are. If I don't stand firm, if my boundaries are too flimsy, I can tell that the CEO is the type to trample all over whatever line I might draw. So I have to risk being an asshole from the beginning. This is my way of passively training the CEO by obliging him to manage his own expectations. Or, hey, he might get frustrated and fire me, in which case I'm ready to walk.

I think I mentioned that the boss had had a chance to look at the Korean-language draft of our new contract; he said the draft looks ridiculous: it's full of restrictive language that's very much against the worker and for the employer. I asked the boss whether he'd be negotiating the contract, and he said that, as it stands, the contract is so ridiculous that he's simply going to ignore this first iteration completely and wait for HR to draft something better. So we're not signing anything yet. I can understand where the boss is coming from, but it probably means that my February paycheck is not going to reflect any raise. I'm a patient guy, so I can wait. I'm still curious to see what a contract that passes muster will look like.

Otherwise, my workload since the lunar new year has been perfectly reasonable: no extra hours worked, and I've even had one or two slightly shorter days. Nothing to complain about. Yet. I just have to watch out for whatever the CEO has planned next... although "planned" may be the wrong word. As the Joker said in "The Dark Knight," "Do I look like a guy with a plan?" The CEO himself has admitted he's not much of a planner, as is manifest in his scatterbrained approach to everything he does. When I gave him my homeschooling book as a gift, I half-jokingly noted that Chapter 2 of my book was titled, "Have a Plan." That's a crucial component of leadership. A company needs to be guided by a coherent vision.


John Mac said...

Sounds like the proverbial calm before the storm. Good luck!

Kevin Kim said...

Yeah, I never got why we're supposed to eat clams right before a storm.