I saw a remarkable video this morning of a company celebrating their leader’s 11th anniversary running the show. The guy, completely unaware, walks into his company doors like any other morning, but what a celebration would soon erupt!
As I watched him stroll through his office, surrounded by so many people who likely had never had a one on one encounter with him, they honored him nonetheless. By watching his mannerisms as this celebration was taking place around him and for him, his shoulders were slumped with humility. The sheepish grin on his face indicated to me that he felt a bit unworthy of such a spectacle. But in watching the participants of the party, the employees, you could tell that they felt the freedom to be themselves and do whatever was natural for them. Dancing. Singing. Yelling. Applauding. Total freedom to just celebrate in this moment that included a mariachi band, gospel choir, headdress-adorned dancers, acrobats, and even a naked guy holding a sign, surrounded by all of the employees wearing black and white.
I had no idea what company this was, or who the leader was, but I can tell you that by watching the way these employees responded to him and the freedom that they felt…I was drawn to that company and that leader. I wanted to know who they were. As it turns out, this is Mark Sebba and he is the CEO of Net-A-Porter. He had announced his retirement after 11 years. By watching the video, you didn’t see him wearing an expensive suit. You didn’t see him go to a corner office isolated from everyone else. As a matter of fact, if you had lined up the employees side by side and you had to go down the line and try to pick who the CEO was – you wouldn’t have picked Mr. Sebba.
From an executive standpoint, I am sure that he had a lump in his throat and was trying to maintain his composure. I also imagine that he might have reflected on some of the sacrifices that he made over that 11 year period – sleepless nights, tough decisions that had to be made, disappointments that were experience, big wins that changed the momentum of the company. But above all, my guess is that Mark Sebba reflected on those employees – the people. Conversations he had. Knowledge of struggles that they might have faced. I cannot imagine that he knew each one personally, but I can imagine that each one of the employees felt that they knew him personally.
When it comes time for you to retire, what will be the sentiments of those who have shared their careers with you? Will they feel that they knew you personally? That you were part of the team? These employees found an incredible way to say “Thank you and job well done!”
You can see the video here.