“A desk is a dangerous place from which to watch the world.”
– John le Carré (English Novelist)
Yesterday, after reading the above quote, I circled back on an old interview I read with Abbe Raven, President and C.E.O. of A&E Television Networks. Her advice regarding leadership – avoid rarefied air. In Abbe’s own words: “There are many executives who only travel on private planes, go from office to car to home to a hotel, and you’re not experiencing the world. I take the train in every day. I look at what people are reading, watching, what devices they’re using. I go shopping. I buy the milk in the house. I watch TV. You want to make sure that you’re in touch with not only your employees, but also your customers and viewers, and what they like and don’t want. Be out there. Don’t let yourself get trapped in your office. You need to be in the world. And the world is not just other executives.”
If I can take a moment to paraphrase Abbe: Circulate, observe and stay informed in order to avoid rarefied air. Start by unplugging and taking a walk at lunchtime.