It was a lovely December Friday morning in Johannesburg when Mike’s cellphone rang to the tune of ACDC’s Back in Black. “Hello, Mike Pelekowski speaking,” he answered assuredly.
“Hey Ski, its Vettori, how are you big guy?”
“Vettori! Mike said enthusiastically, “I am good thank you, great to hear from you,”
Mike was surprised at the call from Vettori; it has been only three months since the debacle in the boardroom. Vettori asked Mike to lunch. At lunch Vettori and Mike had a long chat about life, love and sport. It was as if they had been friends for years.
“You most probably want to know why I wanted to meet,” said Vettori between sips of coffee.
“Well, to be honest, I did think you would never want to speak to me again” Mike replied sheepishly.
“Ski, I have been through such a painful journey physically with leukaemia; what happened that day is nothing compared to what I have been through, so don’t let that episode fret you in any way, I am glad things happened as they did.”
“You are glad ?” Mike said surprised
“Do you know who I am Ski?” Vettori asked, suddenly and directly. Mike was taken back by the sudden question and wasn’t sure how to answer.
“Ski, I am the chairman of V.B.I. Holdings” Vettori quickly added. Mike stared at Vettori frowning, and it dawned on him like a flashing bulb who Vettori was. V.B.I. Holdings consisted of 24 companies in the information technology space and spread out over ten countries on the African continent. It also owned Mike’s employer Solution Information Technology Enterprises, or S.I.T.E. as it was known. Vettori is the founder of the group and a multi-millionaire industrialist and a very private man.
Vettori realised that Mike was perplexed and somewhat uncomfortable at what just transpired, and to break the moment Vettori added: “Ski, I have decided to pay more attention to the people in our organisation, people are the very reason that VBI is what it is and your sales effort in the last six months has come to my attention, so I have decided to enrol you in the VBI business academy with your permission of course.”
Mike was aware of the VBI business academy, which is an internal academy to prepare people for more significant roles within the organisation. Mike was still completely shocked at what was unfolding. Last night he was having drinks with his rowdy friends, now he is suddenly having lunch with one of the wealthiest men in Africa. And what is it with this motivational speaking Vettori has going on. WTF.
“So what do you think Ski?”
“Sir .. I think..”
“You can still call me Vettori,”
“Of course, Vettori thank you, said Mike moving around uncomfortably in his chair. “I think it will be fantastic and I honestly don’t know what to say to you. I am just a salesperson trying to be successful in a tough economic environment, umm and ..”
“Ski, do you know where kings are?” Vettori interrupted.
“The kings sir…Vettori?”
“Yes, the kings buddy, I want to make kings, let me explain something, 95% of people will be content to go along their way because their plateau is comfortable. Why be disturbed or excited? The other 4% and the kingly 1% will never be held back until every unused capacity in them is directed for service. What is it that lights the fuse of the 4% to the higher leadership level and then that other 1% to the kingly group? Why do the 95% never get their second wind? If the habits of the 95% keep them on their plateau, don’t you think by sheer determination, you, with your powerful unused capacities, can form just as strong a habit to live on the 4% leadership level or rise to the kingly 1%? But it takes real stuff to do it Ski, and I want to help you to the 1%. I have seen something in you that I don’t often see in people.”
“Thank you, sir… Vettori, I try to sell the best I can”
“Ski, it’s not only about your sales, and yes I have heard some good things about you. What really impressed me was the instant recognition you had of your error that day and your decision to instantly apologise irrespective of what the consequences may or may not be. To me that shows a great character. Now stop calling me sir I am not a knight.”
Before Mike could say anything, there was a commotion as if someone famous walked into the restaurant. “Ah, she’s here,” exclaimed Vettori. Mike looked around, and with astonishment, he instantly recognised the woman walking toward them.
“Ski, she is early, Vettori whispered to Mike, “I will introduce you, then I need to have a meeting with her. I will send you and Stan Kitt all the details about your enrolment.” With that, they both stood up, and Vettori said: “Mrs President, nice to see you again, let me introduce you to one of our finest salespeople in South Africa, Mike Pelekowski, you can call him Ski.” Looking at Mike, and extending her hand, she said “Dumela Ski, nice to meet you.”
The Life and Times of Mike Pelekowski – By Marcus van Wyk