How one colleague's failure to do the right thing became the benchmark for the four who followed—and the damage they left in their wake.

Eye for Excellence letter

After exacting my fury for being thrown out like garbage the first time, I started thinking about why such incidents occur in the first place. I tied that question to the ideas I’ve had for years—which are in parallel to the academic shop I was invited to join. Less than a week after I was fired in 2010 I wrote the original draft of the letter below, and then shared it with others to get their input.

One thing led to another in the most organic way, and in no time it became a genuine team endeavor. In a flurry of fun emails–we discussed, challenged, corrected, reflected, refined, and all the goods that go with true collaboration. Not a single word was immune from scrutiny regardless of the source, and our efforts mirror the guiding principles in the letter itself. Speaking of reflections, I thought my team was deserving of something far more than a pat on the back, so the Eye For Excellence award was born.

Most people said that no one would respond, and deep down I knew they were probably right, but it was worth a shot. And besides, it was an enlightening experience to work with friends and family on the writing project. Few things excite me more than the evolution of quality, along with sharing the process in service of the best ideas–no matter whose they are.

But I was ecstatic to find that a Senior VP Architect Executive had left me a voicemail about my letter soon after it went out, and we had a great conversation a few days later. It was really gratifying that someone was willing to take the time to dig a little deeper into what I had to say, and I sincerely hope that my offering was of some benefit to him.

As an ironic twist, that Senior VP works in the very group that I got fired from the first time around. Imagine that! Even without his response, I’m sure that the president of Home Loans & Insurance would not condone the behavior of those involved in my termination, but it speaks volumes that someone high up in her group did respond. I got fired for being committed to the very ideals that the higher-ups are pursuing.

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