A leader positively impacts others by doing the right things – doing them well with high integrity, strong values, consistency, and reliability. These leaders can inspire others to reach their full potential. That is exactly what Jack Salentine, former Boldt corporate CFO, did for me. I have two very fond memories that I carry with me and hold very dear to my heart to this very day. Today I am going to tell you one of them. About two years into my construction career at Boldt, I was asked to lead a strategic planning team centered around Internal Customer Service throughout the company’s various locations. What does a then 27-year old know about internal customer service? Not a heck of a lot other than in high school, I worked at the local drug store and knew what external customer service was. I studied and researched internal customer service ad nausium. I put together a team of professionals from around the company to help me with this initiative. The first time I was invited to give a quarterly update to the team of executive leaders, I just about crawled out of my skin. I had no idea what I was getting into. This team was made up of all the Presidents of each operating group throughout the various regions, Oscar Boldt, the CEO, CFO, and VP of Business Development. I stayed up the entire night before putting the final touches on my presentation and rehearsing in the mirror until I could recite without my notes. The morning of the presentation, I was not only sleep-deprived but more nervous than I can ever remember. As I walked into the room, it quickly stood out that I was the youngest person there, and I was also the only female. God help me, I remember thinking, how am I ever going to get through this. There were five other presenters before me. As I listened to their updates, I was getting more self-conscience as time went on. I had prepared my presentation entirely differently than the others before me. Had I failed? Were they going to be upset? I was told I had a half-hour to give an update. Was there a precise format I was supposed to follow? My head was filled with self-doubt. It was now my turn. Deep breath and a little self talk as I stood up from the long conference room table. My legs were shaking, and my heart racing as I walked to the front of the room. Deep breath, you got this, GO! Well, needless to say, I could barely get the first sentence out of my head through my mouth. My voice was quivering, and my breathing labored. At that very moment, Jack broke the silence and said, “I think we should stop and thank Shelly for joining us today to share her update to a bunch of old guys. I bet she had no idea what she was getting into when we asked her to lead this initiative.” Well, at that very moment, I could have jumped across that long conference room table to hug that sweet man. He broke the ice and gave me time to catch my breath. He recognized my struggle, and he advocated for me. He had my back. That was all it took; I had the confidence I needed to continue with my presentation. The information was informative, direct, and to the point, exactly what the executive team was looking for. After the meetings concluded, I walked over to Jack and told him how much I appreciated him. Jack definitely believed in me and motivated me to be the best version of myself and surpass my goals.
One thought on “An Impression of a Lifetime”
Great story. I’ve been in that situation. You handled it well and you are right, Jack was an awesome man.