10 Memorable Quotes from Former Bosses

Get this.

It’s 09.40 am, I’m retinas-deep in my workstation monitor, proofing a 40-page brand manual, and we are 20-minutes away from the deadline. In the world of advertising, cutting it fine is bread and butter.

09.45 am, and who comes waltzing to my desk? The CEO, aka — boss man.

“What’s going on? You look stressed.”
 “I’ve got a deadline to meet by 10.00 am, and I don’t know if I can make it.”

Calm as summer wind, he looks at his watch.

“Don’t be dramatic, there’s 15 minutes more!”

Since then, I’ve dabbled in a number of fields. PR, Corporate Communications, Marketing, Business Development, Journalism, you name it. While everything is done one way or another, some things are just the same everywhere. Bossy bosses are one of those things.

Here’s a list of hair-tearing, inspirational, hilarious and often genius quotes I’ve heard from superiors:

Either you become the best at what you do, or you become a manager

One of my earliest bosses, when I handed in my resignation shared this gem with me. At face value, it sounds like serious shade throwing at the idea of management, but he went on to explain that you must learn deep or broad.

Take care of the down-side, the up-side usually takes care of itself

This is something I practice to this day. It’s a great technique for staying hungry and focused on what needs to be done to improve, constantly. The gist of it really is — yes, it’s great if you’ve done well, there’s nothing that needs sorting out in a job well done. Instead, pay attention to the shortcomings, the weak employees, the unhappy customers, the delayed submission, etc.

Sleep is overrated

While it may sound like slavery was what’s up, the particular boss himself operated on very little sleep. Many might argue on all the ramifications of losing sleep, and I agree. Sleep is important if you have any hopes of blowing out a candle in the shape of a “60”. However, most of us overstay our welcomes in zzzz land. Trading a few hours of sun-up, face-down time for work may not be the nightmare it’s cracked up to be.

If I just could make a clone of myself, I wouldn’t need a lot of the people working around here

This one was just bad taste, and I hope to God he was joking. A board-room full of Managers looked around sheepishly, while these words hung in the air. Years later however, I’m starting to see what he meant, it’s hard to find people who share your passion and your commitment. Cloning yourself though may not be the solution. Informed recruitment is critical for businesses, and just might avoid awkward situations like the one in that board meeting.

Yes, I know it’s not practical, but just do it

Again, I’m sure it sounded much better in his head than it did when it got out of there. The lesson here however is how demanding life in the 21st century really is. People aren’t going to cut you any slack, and it’s good fortunate we aren’t walking on water or turning water into wine just yet.

The new deadline is yesterday

Something of a known secret in advertising, the new deadline has been yesterday for some time now. Demanding clients with all the substitutes in the world are a recipe for disaster and any adman will tell you how it is.

You can’t tell someone what to do and how to do it, you need to pick one

Contrary to these words of wisdom, a lot of people do like to micro manage the hows and whats of everyday tasks. Employee empowerment is something that really requires managers to place faith in their subordinates. Easier said than done? Yes, but most success stories learn to make this transition early on.

Yes, sure, question everything, but once in a while, question questioning things

A more recent quote, inspired by a superior in the tech industry. Innovation is indeed the most vital aspect of life and business in today’s context. It’s important however to be responsibly disruptive. At the core of things, there are no bad processes or bad superiors, there are incompetent ones. It’s important to understand what is broken, what can be fixed and what should be replaced before making any major changes. Experimentation is a young man’s game.

Of course, I love my work. But I’m not in love with my work

This one struck a chord with me and it’s something I hope I’ll be able to claim one day too. For the moment though, it may appear that my relationship with my work is bordering on true love.


Originally published at www.dilshanwrites.com on January 30, 2016.

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