The other night I worked late at the office - it wasn't the first time and it won't be the last - sometimes I'm the last one out the door. At some point around 6:30pm or so one of our team members stopped by my office to see if I had time to talk. I probably should have been getting home to dinner or finishing up work - so he should have as well.
Logically we both should have pushed back from our desks by then and made our ways home. But we were still at the office, and spent the next hour or more talking about business, career development, how to tackle the major account challenges and opportunities in front of us, about recruiting and hiring, and where we're going with this company.
And every once in a while we'd look outside at the snaking traffic on Mopac (aka Slow-pac) and didn't feel in a hurry to get out there and join them - so we kept talking. It reminded me of early days in my career - when people only had dial-up at home, and so most people only worked in the office. I worked in the office every weekend, and often times our CEO would be there, catching up on work when fewer people were around. By being there and putting in time on the weekends, incidentally I ran into him more often than not. He'd ask me about the project(s) I was on and how things were going. I'd ask about the business and the trajectory. I probably learned more about the company and the business from those conversations than I did from all the email and other conversations I had in a year.
I gained valuable insight into the mindset of a CEO growing a company based on the value of its team and coherence of culture.? Here I am 20 years later, growing a company based on its amazing people and culture as well. And you don't get there by always going home at 5pm, or working from home instead of the office. You don't get there by doing all the reasonable things. Sometimes you get there by doing unreasonable things like working late, and talking shop long after the point when you should be winding down. But whenever I have these opportunities I take them because I also learn a lot about how our business is operating on the ground when I have these conversations. I have a chance to share how my brain is processing what I'm hearing.? And most of all, I just really value sharing time with people I care about. Nothing better than seeing them succeed.