Destroying your career over a martini

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Right now on my consulting gig, I’m on a business trip. One I’ll be repeating quite often for the next several months. Like most business travelers, I’m staying in a hotel frequented by other business travelers. Since I’m alone on this trip, I casually take my iPad (that I am writing this post on right now) down to the bar, order a glass of wine and some tapas, and catch up on my reading.

Of course, it isn’t just reading. I’m also listening in on other conversations; one cannot help but do this. And at the other end of the bar are these two coworkers talking shop about their company (not the one I’m consulting for). And it’s an enlightening conversation. Mostly one-sided; all about how this employee screwed over people, including two managers.

Right down to what the person was saying on Facebook. I don’t know if our storyteller had access to the Facebook account or if there was unauthorized entry, but there you go.

Then a mucky-muck comes up and asks our storyteller how things are going. He says fine, introduces mucky-muck to his coworker — “He’s working on this web site that Joe really wrecked.” “Oh,” says the mucky-muck, “what happened?”

And in a 30-second speech that would make an elevator proud, our storyteller tells the tale of how this employee wasted a quarter-of-a-million dollars and the coworker he is talking to has come in to fix it.

“Is the person who messed it up still working for the company?,” he asks?

“Oh, sure, just in a different department,” Mr. Storyteller says.

“Good to see you, Fred, and enjoy your night,” and Mr. Mucky-muck goes off to return to his room.

And that is how you destroy someone on a business trip over a martini.

Was it justified? Was it accurate?

Does it matter?

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