ledzep

“Yes, there are two paths you can go by, but in the long run; There’s still time to change the road you’re on.” – Robert Plant, Jimmy Page

Even though I was serving as the chief spokesperson for the Governor of California, George Deukmejian, I was still nervous and a little excited about meeting Richard M. Ferry, one of the co-founders of the largest headhunting firm in the world, Korn/Ferry International.

As we met in 1989 in his Century City office, he asked me how long I had worked for the Duke up to that point. I replied: Eight years.

He inquired whether I was proud of my tenure with the governor.

His question struck me as curious. I replied in the affirmative.

He noted that while I saw my eight years as a source of pride, a future employer could very well see that period of time as “stagnation.”

“Stagnation”?

Guess the golden days of starting in the mail room and ending up in the corner suite 40 years later are gone, long gone.

And I was counting on receiving my gold watch, and fading into the sunset.

Later in my career, I established the Corporate Public Relations Department for LSI Logic Corporation.

Our founder, chairman and chief executive officer Wilf Corrigan was a serial wanderer. His management by walking around style included a daily stop to my Silicon Valley cube to talk about the news and what was happening with his company and his semiconductor industry.

Each day I prepared for his arrival, keeping notes about developments that warranted CEO attention. Originally, I thought that yours truly was not cut out for a corporate environment. I was wrong. I loved my days with LSI Logic, and especially working with Wilf…even though I did not report to him…I still worked for him.

After my 10 years on the job, Wilf (in concert with the Board of Directors) made the decision to retire from the job at 67-years young. A new Intel(ligent) CEO came in the door. He brought a slew of Intel(ligent) folks with him. I knew the writing was on the wall.

Shortly thereafter, I negotiated a get-out-of-town package and was out the door. The company stock was $8 and change when Wilf stepped down as chief executive. The Intel(ligent) team promised so much upon their storied arrival eight years ago. Today the stock opened at a robust $7.22 in the midst of a long-term bull market.

After accepting an executive position with Edelman Public Relations, I would periodically hear from my former colleagues still toiling at LSI Logic. They asked me for my humble opinion about what they should do. Being a man of few words (just kidding), I gave them a two-word reply: “Get out.”

And each time I received the response that the Intel(ligent) ones respected an LSIer for his or her 12 years with the company, 14 years with the company, 15 years with the company…Each of these LSIers was eventually laid off.

I couldn’t help but ponder the words of Richard Ferry about “stagnation.” You have to sense when a job or a situation has dramatically changed and has reached the point of no return. You can’t pretend that it hasn’t, when the circumstances have clearly shifted.

What’s that about not being able to go home again?

It is human nature to not embrace change. We know our routines. We are happy when we are in our comfort zones. Alles ist in Ordnung until the shift occurs.

When George Deukmejian decided to not run for a third term (even though he could legally take that step at the time), my life changed and thus my meeting with Richard Ferry.

When Wilf Corrigan stepped down at LSI Logic, I knew instinctively a chapter in my life was closing and I made a change.

When my wife, Robin, of 22 years died of cancer, my life changed whether I liked it or not.

And when I faced cancer and Valley Fever myself, I saw my own mortality pass before my own eyes twice. I knew that change is unavoidable and it must be managed.

And when change is in the offing, you can lament about it, feel sorry for yourself, or you can accept the shift and do something about it.

At the risk of publicly patting myself on the back, I choose to manage as opposed to having other Intel(ligent) people manage me. As Robert and Jimmy said in Stairway to Heaven there still is time to change the road you’re on.

For me, I sense another change. The Office of the Governor was a nice run. LSI Logic was a blast. Edelman was a great learning experience, The University of Oregon provided me with a new diploma, a foreign language certificate, a research award and substantial upper division public relations teaching experience.

So what will I do next? What chapters of my life will follow? Or will I be writing chapters of my own book?

I can hardly wait to find out.

http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/ledzeppelin/stairwaytoheaven.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Korn/Ferry

Advertisements