They sat in a light-grey office amidst many other offices. The chairs were expensive, textured, and ergonomic. The office occupied a corner of the building. Natural light shone into it through the windows. The editor of the company newsletter opened her notebook as she took her seat. She rested her hands in her lap while she waited for the vice-president to shut his door. He didn't. He strolled to his desk.
It was her job to interview her recently-hired executive. She'd brought a list of her usual questions about business experience.
"What is it that makes you successful?" She read the top question from the first page of her notebook.
"Love," he replied. He hardly looked up from his desk to answer.
"No, I mean in business." Her hand fluttered. "As a leader."
"Love," he repeated. He looked at her directly. "Without love for other people, I would never have been bold enough or forceful enough to achieve anything."
"That's, um ..." She tried to be tactful. "That's not what people are expecting. What about courage? Your last company was a factory. You stayed when the other executives fled. You turned the place around after it had been robbed ... I won't use that word in print but it was robbed, essentially, by the former leadership. It took courage to stay."
"It was courage that came from love. The folks staying on were the ones who made the company successful. They weren't the ones who nearly wrecked it. I knew where my loyalties should lie."
"That's what I mean. Courage." She scribbled notes furiously.
”If you like. The answer is still love, really," he insisted. "Without love for my wife, I would never have gone out to look for a new job. Without the love to support my children, I wouldn't have changed careers to the factory, demanded raises, or applied for leadership positions. I never wanted any of those things before. It was only when I had others in mind that I went out to change the world a little."
The editor said, "I don't think that's how it works in the minds of our other executives."
"Maybe they don't talk about it that way," he conceded.
"I'm pretty sure I'm not allowed to write in our newsletter that love drives good business. What would the other leaders think?"
"Every business is about people. If the other directors aren't happy that I care for others, I might as well know."