Tag Archives: Expense Report

Lunch with the CEO

For though we live in the world, we do not wage war as the world does.
2 Corinthians 10:3 (NIV)

A number of years ago my company served a midwest client. We were providing them with on-going customer satisfaction research, conducting Quality Assessments in their contact center, as well as coaching their sales and customer service teams. Then we learned that the company had been sold to a much larger conglomerate with global reach.

As always happens in a corporate buy-out, there was a subsequent shift in the executive ranks as the new owners brought in their own executives to run their new asset. I know that when this happens there is a very good possibility that we will lose our contract. New executives tend to come in having already formed their own strategic partnerships and alliances along their career journey. They use their new authority and this initial season of massive change to bring in the friends and colleagues they already know and trust.

In this case, the new CEO decided to let us finish our contract year as he observed the work we were doing and allowed us to present our data and explain the continuous improvement model we’d implemented which was successfully making positive changes to the customer experience. We were fortunate. As the year progressed he not only allowed us to continue our project, but he actually gave me additional projects to work on with him. At the end of the year he agreed to keep our projects moving.

During one of my visits I had lunch with the CEO. “Do you know why I keep you around?” he asked. He was a type 8 challenger so I had to be ready for him to ask almost any kind of arcane, direct question at any moment.

I hope we’re providing you with value,” or some such generic guess was my answer.

It’s your expense reports,” he answered just as directly as he’d asked the question.

Excuse me? My expense reports?

I deal with all sorts of outside vendors and consultants,” he went on to explain. “You wouldn’t believe what people try to charge me and get away with. First Class airfare, magazines they buy to read on the plane, luxury hotel suites, and the most expensive meals. One guy tried to expense a $200 bottle of wine with his lunch. Then they even try to charge margin on top of their expenses.”

You and your team,” he said, “are different. You only expense what is necessary and reasonable. In fact, I can tell you actually try to help me contain costs. It tells me a lot about who you are and how you operate. It tells me I can trust you.

It was a nice thing to hear, because our company has always tried to operate with integrity in all of our dealings and relationships. If you happen to have been in our gathering of Jesus’ followers a couple of days ago and heard the message, then you’ll understand when I say that I try to bring “Level 4” principles into our “Level 3” business dealings.

In today’s chapter, Paul expresses the same vein of thinking. He’s operating in the world but trying to bring a different level of operational principles in his relationships and dealings. He’s trying to bring the Kingdom into everything that he’s doing from his ministry to all of the fledgling gatherings in the Jesus Movement to the tent-making and repair business he ran wherever he went to provide for his daily needs so as not to be a financial burden on the believers he was serving.

This morning I’m preparing for a business trip. Once again I’m thinking about how I can serve well, love well, bring measurable value to my client, and be an example in all of my dealings. My memories of lunch with that CEO are a good reminder for me as I embark on my journey. I want my stated principles to be evident in my daily words and actions.

People are watching, and they notice.


Day 6: Your Opinion on Cheating on People

Expense Reports
Image by mynameisharsha via Flickr

30 Day blogging challenge Day 6: Your opinion on cheating on people.

There are a lot of ways I could go with this question, but one memorable experience popped into my head:

A few years ago my business partner and I had lunch with a client who was the Senior Vice President of a large company. During the course of the lunch we asked our client to tell us honestly if our group was serving him and his company well and if there was anything we needed to improve.

“Do you wanna know why I love you guys?” he asked. “You give me great data and do your jobs well, but what I really like are your expense reports. You don’t stay in extravagant hotels, you don’t try to bill me for expensive dinners, and you don’t ding me for extraneous expenses. I have consultants who try to bill me for first class air fares, $200 bottles of wine and expect me to pay for the magazines they read on the plane. I know when I get your expense reports that you’re dealing with me honestly and looking out for my budget instead of trying to get as much out of me as you can. That makes we want to keep doing business with you!”

There is a much broader definition to cheating on people than we realize. Jesus continually made it clear that sin is not only the major scandalous acts of the flesh, but also the seemingly invisible acts that reveal the intentions of our heart. Taking advantage of an employer, padding an expense report, or not leaving a tip for your server are ways we cheat others and prove ourselves unfaithful.

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