I’m not that kind of guy

August 26th, 2012 § 1

Yesterday, my brilliant, clever, humorous, visionary boss died. It took a long time to sink in. Even after calls from colleagues, e-mail condolences from business partners, countless Facebook updates and articles in every major newspaper. Even after horrible tabloid headlines. (“Top-level media exec killed in bicycle accident” “Was on trip to celebrate his 40th”, as a bloody bait to lure in sensation hungry consumers in line at the supermarket. I hate you.) All that and I still half believed him to send a text – “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated. P.” But I think I understand now. And I’m so, so sad.

One memory among many: We were in the middle of building an improved strategy to tackle the disruption of digitization to publishing. I see him now this summer, in what is quite likely to be Bonnier’s least glamourous meeting room: feet on the table and body in a decidedly non-”top-level exec” slumped position in an old armchair. Talking endlessly, big plans, new ideas, no obstacles that couldn’t be overcome. “You know our big competitors”, he sneered, “sit back and wait for someone else to solve this whole thing. Then they’ll follow suit – no risks, no unnecessary cost.” He looked at me defiantly, a skinny crusader in a creased shirt and brightly coloured sneakers. “But Ylva, I’m not that kind of guy.”

Just a small memory, but it represents to me his willingness to fight, to innovate, to dream up new visions and try to make them reality, and disregard for the mundane, the defensive, for business-as-usual. That way of being takes a rare combination of a fast, sharp intellect and a lot of courage. And tomorrow when I go to work, and the day after that and for a very long time, I will wish that I was half as clever and brave. And I’m not, but I will try.

(In Swedish: Colleagues past and present have painted a beautiful picture of Pontus Schultz – like Ulf, Claes and Camilla. Worth reading.)

  • Share/Bookmark