Earning the Corner Office

I snapped this picture this week of our Director of Supply Chain Management for one reason … it made me happy!

Aquascape Employee

To anyone that didn’t know the story of Mark Williams, he would appear like any other casually dressed Aquascape Manager sitting in his comfy office. Maybe they would notice the big Fat Head Marine that decorates his wall, a throwback to his days when he served our country as a Marine fresh out of high school. But what they wouldn’t know is how he got his start with me soon after he got out.

Mark started shipping boxes in our warehouse in early 1997. He would still be where he’d be if he hadn’t made a few key things happen.

First, he had a strong desire to move up in the company. As obvious of a statement as that may be, trust me when I say it’s not for most people. Most people might think they want to move up, but few actually do anything to make it happen. I can conclude that based on the second thing that occurred.

Mark asked his boss what he would actually need to do to move up at Aquascape. Brilliant! Again, as odd as it might seem, rarely does someone ask what they need to do to move ahead with their job, or specifically our company.

Mark’s boss at the time had a misguided perception of our culture and to a now, growing extent, our society. He blurted out to Mark that he should consider turning his 2 year associate degree into a bachelor’s. Mark took him for his word and did just that, taking a class or two a quarter in the evenings after work. When he finally earned his bachelors degree in Business Management, five years after he began his journey up, he was rewarded with keeping his job in our warehouse (we pay for performance not degrees).

Speaking of Mark’s performance, his performance could be a blog in itself. Everything we gave him he did well, earning high marks and raises along the way for his work. Everything! The problem was, everything we gave him wasn’t enough for what he wanted to do! This opened the door for him to do what he ultimately did to open the door to his own corner office.

Mark Williams came to me, the owner, and said the magic words any company owner wants to hear, “I want to do more than I’m doing to help this company succeed.”

Stop the presses! This is not normal speak! Most people don’t even speak! They just do what they are told which is fine but often times a lot of what they do they don’t like doing … and it shows. And they don’t do anything to change it, either effectively closing the door forever on any corner office anywhere. Some do change it though … they leave in hopes of finding another job that challenges them more. Not Mark. Why the world is the way the world is I will never know. What I do know is this. Four years after Mark talked to me and moved from the warehouse to an office cubicle, he has moved into his own corner office. Rocket science? Hardly, but it might as well be as often as it occurs.

Mark Williams is that rare breed who doesn’t accept the status quo as his lot in life. He not only had a desire to move ahead, he did something about it. And all along the way he did the only thing everyone must do as a baseline to move ahead … perform excellently at the current task at hand.

I’m proud of Mark and what he has turned himself into through sheer effort, desire and execution. Me being proud of him matters little though.

He gets to go home every day and look at the man in the mirror.

Carpe Diem and in Mark’s case at Aquascape, Semper Fi.