“They said it, I learned from it”
“He’s got it covered.”
Some people just get things done. It is the defining characteristic of their career. We typically don’t recruit based on an individual’s ability to accomplish things. Unfortunately, it seems too hard to accurately assess this attribute on a resume. The workplace needs more doers and fewer checked boxes on resume keyword searches.
Wayne and Gerry. Gerry and Wayne. They had a heckuva run together. Thoughts of the two of them bring a flood of memories wrapped in a smile.
They were both impressive in their own right. Each was New Jersey but in different ways. Except perhaps for Wayne, Gerry didn’t let people in right away. I remember telling him once in frustration that he sure knew how to make a man work for an answer. If you didn’t ask Gerry VanDagna the right question, you’d never get the response he knew you were seeking.
The evasion was part of him. We loved him for it. And in spite of the thick outer shell that was usually spiffily dressed, the inside was sweet butter.
Wayne Peake is a different sort of Jersey. Hard worker. Knew just when to be funny. Pizza snob. Hoagie guy. Springsteen fan. Everyone wanted to be on his team. He thrived in the trenches. I run out of positive adjectives when I try to describe Wayne.
Some of my fondest work memories are of teasing Wayne about wearing a pea coat. Sailor Jack on the Cracker Jack box. For several weeks one cold winter, we would make the half-mile walk every morning from the Boston Marriott Copley Place to the John Hancock Tower. The pea coat showed up every morning for breakfast ready to face my never-ending jabs.
The pea coat got stuff done. I’m sure he still does.
One of the many successful sales wins that Wayne and Gerry had occurred in Tampa. They were both working for me at the time and they graciously invited me to attend one of their meetings in the sales cycle. The soon-to-be customer was GTE TSI (now Syniverse).
Wayne gave me a briefing on the potential client and arranged for the three of us to get together in the Tampa Marriott concierge lounge before heading to our meeting.
They were both uncharacteristically late. When Wayne arrived, he let me know that Gerry wasn’t feeling well. He even mentioned that Gerry was having chest pains. Wayne and I went up to Gerry’s room and were told through the door he was just about ready. When Gerry finally showed up at the lounge, one look at him was all we needed. Our planning session was scrapped and our focus was to get Gerry to a hospital.
Instead, he insisted on attending the sales call. Off we went.
Throughout the long session, Gerry and I took turns sweating. Believe it or not, I was having my own health issue at the time. A very high temperature due to a serious and growing infection was making me miserable.
Wayne carried the day during the presentation as Gerry and I took turns trying to hide our agony. It was another step toward closing the deal. Looking back, I guess you could say it was funny (although Gerry never should have been anywhere but under a doctor’s care).
Gerry and I parted ways with Wayne at the airport that evening. We were headed home to Baltimore. Wayne was returning to New Jersey. The two of us were a sad sight in the USAirways Club as we awaited departure. Every five minutes or so, Gerry and I would take turns asking each other if we were going to make it. I think we both had our doubts.
We made it back. Barely.
Gerry was checked into his local hospital that night and I went to a different one the next morning. I called to check on him. The thick outer layer was in full force. He didn’t want to talk about his health. He wanted to talk about the deal in Tampa.
I wrote down one line from our conversation. It was…
“He’s got it covered.”
Gerry was referring to Wayne. He spoke the truth.
Wayne, like so many others who just get things done, never received the recognition he was due except by those who knew him best.
When something wasn’t right, Wayne quietly saw to it that it got fixed. He led by doing. When the eleventh hour arrived on a pressing deal and carelessness in some circles could become contagious, Wayne doubled down on diligence.
Gerry was the New York/Jersey guy we loved for making us work so hard for an answer. Wayne, on the other hand, was quick to provide them.
Is there a higher compliment that can be afforded another person than to trust that they have it covered? Maybe so, but then again, maybe not.
Gerry is gone now. His heart kept going but cancer took its toll. In the words of our colleague Bill Hendrickson, he was “quite a man”. We miss him terribly. His sweet buttery center was revealed best on the job through his trust in Wayne.
We all trust Wayne. He always seems to have it covered.
Written by Craig Halsey
They said it, I learned from it is a compilation of lessons learned from the things I’ve heard people say over the course of my lifetime. It’s amazing what you can learn when you listen. Watch for They Said it, I learned from it every Friday in The Weekly Hodl. It’s perfect reading while you enjoy your second breakfast. Sign up today.