Friday, October 23, 2009

Tomorrow Our CFO Turns 40

This is how I knew he would be a great CFO:

Shortly after the hire, we had lunch at one of those Chinese restaurants that offers its food by the number.  So, a "#23" is egg foo young, fried rice and spare ribs.  Each meal is more food than three people could eat, and the kind of food many people would not eat at all.

Anyway, one of the cardinal rules at this place is "NO SUBSTITUTIONS."  The menu says "NO SUBSTITUTIONS" in about six places, all in red.  Bright red.  Big letters.  It might as well read "NUCLEAR WASTE."

Here comes the nice waitress.  I order a #15.  Our new CFO orders a #23 and then says to the waitress, "But I want to substitute chicken wings for ribs."

Just like that.  I thought the earth would open up and swallow us.

The waitress pauses, looks, pauses, looks.  Frowns.  Pauses.  And then says: "OK."

That's when I knew he would be a great CFO.  Through a half-dozen acquisitions, 40 quarters of growth, the design of compensation plans, and in battles with vendors and partners, he kept asking for substitutions when nobody else dared.

Today, that CFO is our COO.  Just another thing that comes from not being afraid to ask for substitutions.

Happy Birthday, Mike!