Monday, July 23, 2012

...And Now, a Brief Pause for Jenuflection

"I don't know who you are.  I don't know what you want...but I have a very particular set of skills; skills I've honed over a long career."  -- Liam Neeson, Taken 

If you haven't already heard, Ted Panos broke the news this morning on WCAP about the naming of Jen Myers as the new Mayor's Aide.  The succession plan involves me sticking around through this week and into next.  Jen will start next week, and I'll hang around for a proper "turnover."  A concept very familiar to anyone who has served more than a day in the active duty military, 'turnover preparation' means you're constantly getting ready to teach someone else to do your job.

In this case, I've had a strong emotional attachment to the position, and to the question of who the 'someone else' might be, for the past few months.

Here's why: I came to the office amidst a bit of controversy, so I felt very strongly from Day One about professionalism.  Knowing that even a slight screw-up -- heck, even an imaginary screw-up, would land my boss and me some unwanted real estate in The Column, followed by chattering-class Monday morning finger-wagging, led me to take a nearly-obsessive view that 'good enough' would never be, and that any scheduling or protocol breaches were just unacceptable.  [Ask the City employee who incorrectly stated that the Mayor 'no-showed' for an Earth Day event...if you generally think of me as a 'nice guy' you might have been shocked by the way an inner Rahm Emanuel emerged during a subsequent phone exchange].

Anyway, a compulsive desire to 'get it right' for the past few months has left me very emotionally attached to the position itself -- the basic protocols, the responses to phone calls and e-mails, the support letters, the proclamations, citations, the 'easy wins' to notch from putting streetlight outages into E-GOV, etc.  In a city that doesn't have a '311' as a general information catch-all, I have embraced 674.1551 as its nearest equivalent, and I think it ought to remain so.

So as excited as I am to be heading to a new chapter in life that will help start another new chapter, I'm still somewhat very tied to the procedures and the general mentality that I have helped to put in place up in Room 50.  In fact, I've been borrowing my boss's ear since April to talk about the "particular set of skills" I hoped we'd find somewhere:

1. Someone proactive, but not so proactive as to be reckless and not know boundaries.  
2. Someone who is conversational, but not a talker.
3. Someone who can handle aggressive personalities without either curling up in the corner or escalating confrontational situations. 
4. Someone who can handle the crazies, but without letting them impede on real work.  
5. Someone who writes well, but more of a Hemingway than a Faulkner.
6. Someone who can work autonomously, sometimes with minimal guidance or direction.  
7. Someone who can interact with peers in a way that shows cooperative spirit but also backbone.  
8. Someone who respects The Boss and the Institution but can still say "that idea sucks" or "you're ten minutes late, get your act together" when those things need saying.  
9. Someone who can represent Hizzoner when it needs to happen -- and without trying to 'wear his stars' or, alternatively, staring at the floor and reading from the script.  

If you think Jen Myers doesn't meet all nine of the criteria to a T, then you and I don't know the same Jen Myers.

And if you think that people who can hit all nine of those wickets are easy to find, then you need to start a headhunting firm.  Yesterday.  And then I need to find you when I finally decide to start a company.  Because I know a lot of people, but only a slight few 'niners.'

And that's why I'm so excited that Jen is taking the reins.  


C R Krieger said...


Regards  —  Cliff

Anonymous said...

well said and 100% true:)