In the Corner Office feature from the New York Times, Dec. 29, Adam Bryant conducted an interview with Teresa A. Taylor, the chief operating officer of Qwest, entitled “Everything on One Calendar, Please.” (Read the full interview here).
Here are two key lessons from the interview:
1) You cannot separate the different pieces of your life — you are one person, always thinking about every aspect of your life – work, home, personal… “Everything on one calendar, please.”
2) You (& everyone else) are always on. Taylor subscribes to the “the best interview is to share a meal” philosophy. She adds that it works best at a restaurant. This way, the interviewer can see the way that the candidate treats servers, makes decision, demonstrates self-control, while engaging in pretty uninterrupted conversation. The point: a person is “always on,” and you reveal much about yourself, your abilities, your priorities, your ethics, in daily, day-to-day interactions.
Here are some key excerpts:
Q. Are there other ways your leadership style has evolved?
A. Well, I would say in the beginning I thought I had to keep work and home very separate. I thought that’s what you’re supposed to do, especially as a woman. You know, you don’t bring up your children and you don’t bring up the fact that you’re having these issues at home. I think young women think you have to be like a man to succeed. I was like that. I just didn’t talk about those things.
After a while, when I brought my personal life into the office, it was O.K. Turns out, other people have kids, too. And, turns out, other people have these issues. I felt more comfortable when I could intertwine them. Now my calendar is one calendar — everything personal and everything professional is on one calendar. I used to keep literally two separate calendars, and then wonder why I missed a few things.
Q. How do you hire?
A. I never hire somebody without having a meal with them. I am absolutely convinced that that’s how you see what people are really like. You can tell by the way they order, you can tell by the way they treat the wait staff, you can tell by the way they drink too much or what they drink — you can pick up all these lifestyle things that you can’t get out of questioning them sitting in your office. Maybe they can’t make a decision on what to order, or they’re very snotty to the waitress. I absolutely have changed my mind on individuals after doing that.