Illustration by Chad Crowe
Welcome to this month’s meeting of the Executive Improvement, Enrichment and Investment Organization. The mission of the EIEIO has always been to show corporate leaders how to reach the summit in their careers and in their personal lives. We are incredibly fortunate to have Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn and Seattle Mariners special consultant Ken Griffey Jr. on today’s panel to address the topic “Let Arrogance Take You to the Top.”
We don’t have much time, so let’s open it up for questions.
“I have one for Mayor McGinn. As a candidate for office, Mr. Mayor, you were a dedicated opponent of the proposal to build a tunnel to replace the Alaskan Way Viaduct. Then you reversed yourself late in the campaign and said you would ‘uphold and execute’ the plan. Then, once you were in office, you led an effort to have voters rescind the tunnel-construction agreement between the city and the state. Isn’t this the height of arrogance? And, as the city’s chief executive, what do your actions say to city employees and constituents?”
Excellent questions. Your response, Mayor McGinn?
“Well, I don’t think it’s the Mount Everest of arrogance. I’ve been in office less than a year and a half. I have a long way to go, so this is roughly the Kilimanjaro of arrogance. As for my message to city workers and constituents, I think it’s fairly clear: Flip-flops never go out of style.”
Well said, Mr. Mayor. And valuable fashion advice. If I may, you suggested in March that perhaps the Viaduct should be shut down years ahead of schedule, and apparently you had given no thought to how such a closure might affect thousands of motorists. That seemed to take arrogance to a whole new level.
“Well, anybody can be contemptuous, but it requires special effort to take that ‘I don’t care what anybody else thinks’ public image of yourself and carry it to the summit of arrogance.”
I see. Any other questions?
“I have a question for Mr. Griffey. Sir, you returned to the Mariners this year as a consultant and during spring training you said you saw no reason to apologize for abruptly quitting the team in the middle of last season. You stated: ‘I had to do what I thought was best for me.’ I realize it’s important to look out for number one, but could you possibly have been more arrogant, and do you think that, as a mentor, counselor and ambassador now, you’re sending the right message to players and young fans?”
Intriguing questions. Mr. Griffey?
“It’s hard to say. I mean, remember how I never used to run out a ground ball? That was pretty arrogant. And then there was that easy chair I had in the clubhouse. I guess that was me getting comfortable with my arrogance. But I have to admit that not saying ‘I’m sorry’ to thousands of fans whose feelings I hurt is darned impressive. That’s probably why the Mariners asked me back. I have a lot to share with the kids coming up. They’re so green and humble.”
And the message, Mr. Griffey? How does arrogance get us to the top?
“Well, when you’re hitting a buck eighty, it helps to have a little swagger, a little vitamin A, if you will. Arrogance is good camouflage for incompetence. Also, it’s much easier to become a consultant if you’ve never had to apologize for doing something wrong.”
Terrific stuff, Mr. Griffey. Unfortunately, our time is up. My thanks to you and to Mayor McGinn for guiding us to the peak of arrogant perfection. Our guests next month will be Maria Goodloe-Johnson, Fred Stephens and Silas Potter Jr., formerly of Seattle Public Schools, on the topic “It’s Good to Be Out of Town When the Stuff Goes Down.”