At the end of my first day working at Yahoo, I felt tired and overwhelmed. I had just moved across the country with my new girlfriend, to a state I had never seen before, to work for the most visible internet company of the late 90s. My entire life had been upended and I was trying to find my footing. Day one at work was the weirdest.
On my way out I fell in beside an older guy. We got to talking. I told him I was part of the Viaweb acquisition, how I had moved across the country and this was my first day. He asked how I liked it here and I said I liked it a lot. He was nice.
As the conversation drew to a close I stuck out my hand and said, “I’m Dave. I work in tech support.” He smiled, shook my hand and said, “I’m Tim but everyone calls me TK. I’m the CEO.”
We both got a laugh out of that. I said, “Actually, I really like working here.” He replied with the California-ism, “I’m stoked.” We laughed again and parted. My girlfriend saw the exchange and asked, “Who was that?” I said, “The CEO. He’s awesome.”
I didn’t see TK much after that conversation. But a couple years later he gave a presentation to our department. Some guys afterward were skeptical to what he said. I told them, “TK? I’d go to war for that guy.”
If you are in a position of power, it doesn’t require a lot to inspire loyalty. Just remember to do the small things.