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This all changes overnight, when after years of Lee having successfully run the department is suddenly usurped in a corporate coup d’état. Now I have a new boss – Bill Stokkan. It takes us a while to adjust to each other. But somehow we manage. Bill leaves me alone even more than Lee did, because he is not a publishing guy who believes that his managers should be able to do their jobs well on their own. But he does find his ways into all his direct reports’ areas more as an advisor/guardian than a boss. I like his modus operandi.

At times it takes me several days or even a couple of weeks to get him to sit down with me. Then suddenly he would show up at my office door just before lunch.

‘Let’s go!’ He would say. Hurriedly, I would collect my files containing things I need to discuss with him and we would dart out of there and walk a couple of blocks to our favorite Japanese restaurant, Hatsuhana, have our first course of sushi and tempura washed down with sake and beer, and then walk next door to the Shucker’s and top it up with fresh soft shell crabs, shrimps and oysters with some chilled vodka.

His favorite jargon is: That’s a no brainer, which would follow quick decisions.

‘Do it.’

‘Let’s discuss.’

‘Not now.’

And we would be done. But Bill is also given to what his other direct reports and I came to call, pontificate! He has an extremely analytical mind in which he has looked at a given situation from every possible angle. And he has a set of business philosophy that is plain and simple and above all fair to everyone concerned. Something I absolutely admire.

We are on our way to Brazil and Argentina. Up are two very delicate contract renewals. I have provided him with copies of the contracts and am giving him rundown on what we maybe up against when sitting down at the negotiating table.

‘They’re right. We should consider giving them reduction in the minimum guarantee!’ This is a new concept to me. He senses it and he knows what the corporate philosophy has been all along.

Minimum guarantee shouldn’t be a minimum penalty. I see that we actually make more money than they do!’ This too is a new concept for me.

Aren’t we supposed to be? I don’t even have to ask.

‘We may try to get 51% out of the deal, but even if we end up with 50/50 split, it’s still a win-win situation and therefore a true partnership.’

‘But that would throw off our budget…’

‘Don’t worry about the budget. Just make one up the best you can. In the end you could be either over budget or under budget.’ Well, he is right. But no one has put it to me that way before.

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