It was a typical busy, boisterous day in our swivel chairs, moving from one task to the next and from one desk to another.
When Grace, our CEO, walked in with a friend, we decided it was a not- so-typical Wednesday after all.Because her friend who dropped in to say hello had an identity beyond “some friend of our CEO.” Bob McDonald is the retired chairman, president, and CEO of the world’s largest consumer products company, Procter & Gamble. For the uninitiated, if you’re alive and breathing , you
would’ve must’ve bathed, cleaned, done laundry, masked your body odour and managed your toddler’s bowel movements with one of P&G’s products.
Huddled in our cozy meeting room, we geared ourselves up for a “here’s what I want to tell you” talk. Instead, he gave us a “how about I tell you what you want to hear” talk.
Here’s a useful “In the Words of Bob McDonald” roundup for you all :
1) “Disable the ping service on your phone.“
2) “Most of my innovative thinking happens out of my workplace. Get out while you can. Working late doesn’t necessarily mean you’re working.”
3) “During my days at the The United States Military Academy, the only acceptable answers that I could utter to anyone of higher authority were: Yes Sir!” “No Sir!” “No Excuse, Sir!” and “Sir! I do not understand!.” (This was easily the most significant takeaway. This severe limitation on response size and creativity helped implant a sense of personal responsibility in him and was a stepping stone to his becoming a leader to reckon with.)
4) “Prioritisation takes priority.”
5) When asked about his daily routine, he nonchalantly said, “I’m 60 years old. I wake up at 4am and get to work at 7am.” Though some of us were tempted to go “Sayyy whaaaat?” we settled for dignified looks of admiration instead.
Towards the end of the pep talk, he also made us feel proud about being the brains behind a service that was changing the paradigm of healthcare in Asia.
It was indeed an inspiring session on leadership, life and motivation. We felt lucky for the opportunity to be cramped in the same room as Bob McDonald.