The Boss

Apologies for not updating the blog for a few weeks. I have been working abroad and found I had very little time between working, eating banquets, pampering myself in spas, hunting down chocolate,

sun bathing and beach inspections. My life is tougher than you think.

Just as I flew off Oswald Grubel, the chairman of Swiss bank UBS, resigned  after someone he’d never met, at a building he’s probably never entered, in an office he’s not set foot in, lost his bank a wee bit of money in a deal that made a Nigerian email scam seem attractive.

Over two billion dollars was lost – don’t start looking under hedges (or hedge funds for that matter) because you won’t find it. The money has disappeared in to electronic, push button, trading land, one minute there the next a red, trouser soiling, mark on a computer screen.

The reason I bring this to your attention is that I have met Mr Grubel, in fact I worked with him a few times coaching him for speeches, and I can tell you that he looks normal. No Superman cape or Batmobile car. No ability to weave webs between buildings or turn green when he’s angry. He’s just a big, normal, bloke. So why do we expect everyday people to have all the answers and look after financial empires that straddle the globe, spending more in a day than some countries in a year?

The answer is that we don’t, or at least shouldn’t. These giants of commerce should always surround themselves with teams of good people who will be constantly warning, evaluating, anticipating, judging and offering advice.

To watch Ozzie Grubel and other similarly placed global financial superstars in action, as I have frequently, is to marvel at how they have space in their head for all the nonsense that assaults them from all quarters, daily. They enter a room and everyone wants their ear, each person wishes to push their agenda or lobby for their favourites, and somewhere in there could be a quick “by the way I think someone’s got his hand in the till and we might have a bit of a problem”.

How on earth their heads don’t explode with the responsibility is beyond me. You can surround yourself with the best of aides and help, but ultimately the buck stops with the chief.

Carol Bartz, boss of Yahoo, was sacked a few weeks ago after a brief spell in charge of the household name company and instead of saying she was leaving “to spend more time with her family” or wanted “to pursue other projects” she told a reporter that Yahoo was filled with “dooffuses who f**ked me over”. There’s nothing quite like falling on your sword while slagging off your enemy just as you get disembowelled. It should happen more often.

Here in the UK, top of the tree public and private sector jobs are disappearing quicker than snow off a barbecue and you’ll find many former chief executives selling The Big Issue from the trunk of their Bentleys and Aston Martins.

The point I’m making is that if the current economic horrors have affected your job, take comfort from the fact that you are not alone. It doesn’t matter whether you work as a chief executive or a shop assistant right now,  job security is a thing of the distant past. We should all just decide to go freelance and look after ourselves. The upside is that it pays better, the downside is that you don’t work everyday and there’s no pension at the end unless you save money yourself.

But at least you are your own boss and no one can lose you your job. Except you.