The guy delivering the keynote looked at us, his audience and asked: ‘What in your opinion is the most important position in your organization?’
Thinking it was probably a rhetorical question people, me included, leaned back looking forward to an undoubtedly brilliant answer. However the speaker pointed at a guy on the 3rd row: ‘You sir, what is your opinion?’
The man, obviously surprised, replied: ‘I ... uh ... I think ... uh ... that would be me.’ Being asked to explain he said: ‘Well I’m the CEO, so what more do you need’. His comment attracted some laughter.
The speaker turned to a woman, next to the guy, who apparently was quite amused. ‘You’re laughing, madam, may I ask why?’ Without hesitation she replied: ‘I'm his PA, everything that makes it to his desk, passes through me first. How would I qualify?’ More laughter.
The speaker turned to some others and the replies varied from obligatory to funny: ‘In my team everyone is equally important’, ‘payroll’, ‘the guy in the cafeteria’, ‘the receptionist’.
Then the speaker did something I will remember for the rest of my life. He walked off, returned with a chair and put it down in the centre of the stage. Silently he sat down on it, carefully put his feet on the lectern and folded his hands behind his head. Slowly and clearly articulating he said:
‘I believe maybe this is the Most Important Position In Your Organization, taking a distance, seeing things in perspective and stepping over the short-term challenges to look at the bigger picture”.
Even some 25 years after the fact I can still see him there on stage, balancing the chair on its hind legs, making his everlasting impression....