Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Pulp Innovation Chapter Fifty Five

The weekend past in a blur of anticipation. The clock couldn't move fast enough, the days seemed to drag along. Even the attractions of sunny southern California didn't hold much appeal. I longed to be walled up in a noiseless, sterile conference room, surrounded by executives in suits making decisions about the future of their company. June called on Saturday and I took her to a prefunctory dinner, and we went dancing, but my head and my heart were elsewhere. She could tell that I was disengaged but I doubt she would have realized that it was Accipiter, and not another woman, that occupied my brain cycles.

As I walked her to her door, she turned and said "I hope she's good to you. I won't play one of those Hollywood heroines and tell you I'll always be here for you."

I put my hand on her door and closed it before she made the rapid getaway.

"We've meant something to each other for a long time" I said. "There's no other woman in my life right now. I'm just really occupied with a potential new client and trying to reason out the best way, no, the right way to do the work. It's been haunting me all weekend. I'm like the greyhound in the box, eyes on the rabbit but the bell hasn't rung yet. All nervous energy and playing out a bunch of scenarios in my mind. I'm sorry I wasn't the best date tonight. I know it and if you'll let me, I'll make it up to you."

She looked at me, not really buying the story entirely but seeing the truth that was in at least part of it. I knew then she was a terrific woman and I should make the right moves here and focus my attentions for at least a few hours on my personal life, rather than become so overwhelmed with Accipiter that I lost myself in my work.

"Can I buy you a drink?" I said, hoping she would ask me in for a nightcap.

"Sam, not tonight. If what you say is true, then give me a call when you are ready to focus on me, on us. I think I believe you, but I need to see more from you than an hour or two. Good luck with the new client" emphasis on client "and when you've decided that I'm as important as some company, then give me a call. Maybe I'll answer."

With that she glanced at my hand on her door, which slid away and she slipped into her apartment, without a glance back at me. I'd managed, in less than a few weeks, alienate my partner, my co-workers and my sometimes girlfriend all to win a new client that I wasn't even sure I wanted. The work was almost too personal.

I relieved my sorrow in the usual way, one shotglass at a time that evening and slept in on Sunday. The hours seemed to tick by even more slowly, so I left the apartment and went to the office, to catch up on all the work I'd left undone during the Accipiter sales efforts. Yet at the office I was unable to concentrate, still spinning the Accipiter opportunity around in my mind. Forms, bills, receipts were scattered around my desk representing tens of thousands of billings, but I could not help but play out all the alternative outcomes for Accipiter. I could imagine arriving on Monday to be told that over the weekend, Underwood and Brockwell had had second thoughts and were postponing the project, or that the board had decided to halt the project and hire a big name consulting firm to examine the strategic consequences of innovation and report back in six months. There were so many opportunities for any innovation project to go astray, and so few chances for one to succeed. I had a lot tied up in this one, and it had me tied up as well.

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