Atypical boss and subordinate conversation

Bill Bowerman office door


(photo: Co-founder of Nike, Bill Bowerman was also the USA’s head track coach for 1972 Munich Olympics – he used his wife’s waffle iron to custom make running shoe soles… and make them lighter than the store bought ones)

Subordinate: My job is to be the deepest thinker in the classroom.

Boss: Quietly listening. (unsure if what she just heard makes sense)

Subordinate: I work with CEO’s, executive teams, front one employees… everyone in an organization. My job is to rattle the cage so to speak. To get people to think differently. If they walk out thinking the same way they walked in, we didn’t need to have the class.

Boss: … (still no verbal response)

Boss: … (thinks her subordinate is a zealot, says nothing)

Everyone in big brand organizations talks about demanding excellence.

Few people, at any level, actually do it.


Because it makes others uncomfortable.

This is especially true for front line employees. They have no power to lead the way. Bosses feel uncomfortable when a subordinate is working above reproach.

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By jeff noel

Retired Disney Institute Keynote Speaker and Prolific Blogger. Five daily, differently-themed personal blogs (about life's 5 big choices) on five interconnected sites.