Conversation with… my controller

Conversation with… my controller

“Numbers guys” aren’t usually known for their comedic prowess, or for their warm and fuzzy HR skills. But after an intense week of marathon, line-by-line budget discussions, and a few serious “discussions” about the best way to get to our desired outcome, I got the single funniest email EVER… and a valuable “stop and smell the roses” lesson — from my controller.

With the subject line, “About today,” I expected a quick note saying, “I feel good about the numbers,” or, “it was a tough go but we did good work.” Instead, he sent the following (just imagine Jack Nicholson as Col. Nathan R. Jessup from a Few Good Men):


Son, we live in a world that has Ledgers, and those Ledgers have to be guarded by men with Calculators. Whose gonna do it? You? You, GM Labetti? I have a greater responsibility than you could possibly fathom. You weep for Budgets, and you curse the P&L. You have that luxury. You have the luxury of not knowing what I know. That reconciling items, while tragic, probably were mis-postings. And my existence, while grotesque and incomprehensible to you, balances books. You don’t want the truth because deep down in places you don’t talk about at parties, you want me on that GL, you need me on that GL. We use words like P&P’s, 10th Edition, GAAP. We use these words as the backbone of a life spent balancing something. You use them as a punch line. I have neither the time nor the inclination to explain myself to a man who rises and sleeps under the blanket of the very balanced books that I provide, and then questions the manner in which I provide it. I would rather you just said thank you, and went on your way. Otherwise, I suggest you pick up a calculator and post journal. Either way, I don’t give a damn what you think you are entitled to.”

It worked for me! I shared it with my team and could hear the laughter all afternoon.  Buried in the busiest and most stressful time of year (fall season, year-end wrap-up, next year planning), it was a lesson learned: Take time to make someone smile and always share the laughter. Your team is counting on you. Big “Thank You” to my controller Steven P for this one.