A Peek Behind The Curtain Reveals Wizardry

As a PR person, I’ve been backstage a lot. It’s our job to make sure that others look good in the limelight. And being backstage, like any concert-goer will tell you, also means getting to meet some of the world’s great thinkers and leaders. I’ve met Tom Peters, the guy who wrote the “Excellence” books; Jackie Joyner Kersee, generally considered to be the world’s greatest female athlete; Coretta Scott King, Dr. King’s widow and a great voice for her husband’s visions; and Tom Kelly, the author of The Art of Innovation and managing partner for IDEO, the company that designed Apple’s mouse 20+ years ago, among hundreds of other breakthrough designs. Great humans all of them.

Last week, I was again honored to be invited backstage, to attend a conclave of Leading Ladies as a journalist interviewed the group. Our CEO, Lisa Wehr, was the invitee, as you have no doubt guessed, if you’re familiar with our company. And she allowed me to tag along. Since the story doesn’t come out for a month or more, I’m not going to steal the journalist’s thunder on what the group said. I instead found wisdom in what these high-powered CEOs didn’t say:

They didn’t describe their individual contributions.
They didn’t apologize about being tough.
They didn’t care who was right; but what’s right.
They didn’t dwell in the past or fear the future.
They didn’t wallow in the pain of failure; they laughed about it.
They didn’t hide the sacrifice of their families, or the importance of the husbands and children in their lives.
They didn’t miss an opportunity to defend colleagues or predecessors.
They didn’t covet the success of competitors; it was like adrenalin.

In a quiet conference room on a rainy afternoon, I felt a bit like Dorothy, discovering that the greatness of the wizards was something super human after all.