The Lesson of Boots - A Real Story!

Earlier in my career as a first time manager, I recall trying to get funding for additional help. I was working 100-hour weeks and saw no end.


I put together a plan to get more resources and went to “Boots” for the money. Boots was the CFO at the time. He was called that because he was an intimidating figure that wore cowboy boots and jeans on Fridays. This was in Atlanta so not as common at that time.


Boots looked at my plan for less than a minute and rejected it. I was devastated and left his office.


The more I thought about it, the angrier I got. It was a good plan. I stormed back into Boots’ office and demanded an explanation. He told me to close the door. I thought I was dead.He told me I was the first person to have the guts to come back and ask for an explanation.


Boots told me something I will never forget.

"Rich, people come to me everyday asking for money. My job is to discern and distribute the money in a way that provides the highest value to the company. Never forget that. No did not mean NO, it meant you did not explain your need well enough".

He pulled out his red marker and went to work on the whiteboard. He started showing me how to write a one-page proposal based upon Return on Investment. He said it needs to show:


  • Overview of the plan (1 to 2 sentences)

  • Details of the plan (1 to 2 paragraphs of justification. Be ready to answer questions)

  • How much is it going to cost and when?

  • What is the payback to the company and when? (ROI)


I went back and did exactly what Boots said. A few days later, I met with him again. He reviewed the one-page proposal, asked 3-4 clarifying questions, and then approved it on the spot.


From that point forward, all of my requests for funding were approved.I have shared that story dozens of times throughout my career. There are business and life lessons throughout.


Thank you Boots!


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