Lessons From A Cool Boss

Everyone needs a mentor starting out. I had the opportunity to meet a lifelong mentor and friend early in my career. Here are three lessons I valued from my cool boss.

Lessons From A Cool Boss
Photo by Florian Klauer on Unsplash

Every now and then you get to work under someone who changes your life in positive ways - they see your potential, or perhaps they even see themselves in you and wants to help you however way they can.

I met such a 'boss' early in my pharma career. I would eventually intern for his launch product and work under him as a manager for his business unit in several organizations.

We're still in touch and he'll likely get to read this post. I even considered going back to the industry to have an opportunity to work with him again but unfortunately, that didn't materialize.

Here are three lessons I valued from my cool boss.

Be yourself, be authentic

When I was applying as a marketing intern for a revolutionary antidiabetic medicine, I was asked by a panel of interviewers about what I regret most in my life. I thought about it and told them I wished that I could have been a better brother for my sister. I answered with emotion - lots of pauses, maybe some trembling in my voice but I didn't cry or anything like that.

I almost didn't get the role because most of the panel thought it was a sign of weakness. My 'future' cool boss saw otherwise and as the hiring manager eventually convinced the panel to include me in the program.

As I would work for him, he would always tell me to just be myself whenever I was anxious for a meeting or a presentation. It's something that I thought was dismissive before but reflecting on it now, I know that it was because he believed in me and trusted my capabilities.

Your laptop is an extension of your brain

He was kinda 'techy' and back in the day would almost always have the latest trending mobile device. He preferred the slimmest laptop so that he could bring it anywhere.

We worked at a start-up dermatology franchise before and as I got my computer unit he told me to take good care of it - I said 'definitely' as it was company property and he said 'yes but no, take care of it because your laptop is an extension of your brain'.

It is meant to help you capture your ideas, express your thoughts and analyze things in minutes that otherwise would take you weeks. The challenge was to learn the features of your tool and understand how it could help you maximize your capabilities.

Freeze frame

One time in an annual kick-off he spoke about 'freeze frame' - his secret to productivity. We kinda made fun of it and threw the term around loosely to refer to people who were working extra hard on a task.

But on the serious side, I fully understand what he was talking about. It's about finding your rhythm, being 'in-the-zone' and literally losing track of time fully embedded in your work. It's the holy grail of productivity and what we now know as 'deep work'.

The goal is to achieve focused work whenever we step into the office or perhaps the moment we shift into work mode when we are at home. He was talking about it decades ago and we were just not thinking at his level to fully appreciate the lesson he was sharing.

Of course, like any other boss - he wasn't perfect. But in the overall scheme of things you would know that he cares and that he values you not just as a subordinate, but as a person.

Cheers to cool bosses! #LeadingOthers