That day, we were launching an app on a major manufacturer’s television sets, and this had been hyped for months by our (notoriously difficult) CEO as an important milestone and game changer for the company. I’m coordinating the marketing initiatives surrounding the launch, one of which is a major overhaul of our website, which was supposed to be delivered by our contractor early in the morning. However, when I arrive at work, I find out that the update hasn’t been delivered and I can’t reach the contractor, so I notify the CEO.
Me: (Boss), just so you know, seems like the update didn’t go live and I can’t get a hold of (contractor). I left them a message, hopefully I’ll hear from them soon.
CEO: This is unacceptable! (My name), this is your responsibility and I’m holding you accountable; I don’t care how you do it, but that update HAS to be live WITHIN THE HOUR, understood?
Me: Sure. I’ll keep calling I guess.
I keep monitoring my inbox, trying to call our contractor, and even the contractor’s boss, to no avail. 30 minutes later, the CEO calls an impromptu office meeting away from our desks. I bring my phone with me, hoping to catch an email or call from the contractor. I expect the meeting to be about the launch, but it is in fact a rehash of an investors meeting held a few months ago, which I had basically prepared from A to Z for the CEO (and for which he had taken all the credit), so there’s nothing new for me there and he knows it. As I’m about to head back to my desk to keep monitoring the website situation, he stops his speech mid-sentence.
CEO: Uh, (My name), where are you going?
Me: I need to get back to my desk and try to reach (contractor) so that I can check that the update goes live without a hitch.
CEO: Uh, no. You stay here. This is a company meeting. This is important.
Me: With all due respect, I was there at the investors meeting and I even prepared that presentation so…
CEO (in a dismissive tone, pointing to my seat): (My name), please sit down and listen. Thank you.
I returned to my seat reluctantly, still holding my phone close. At some point, a new email comes in, and it is indeed from the contractor. I start reading it, when the CEO stops again in mid-sentence.
CEO: Uh, (My name), am I bothering you?
Me: No, no, it’s just that…
CEO: NO! You are being rude to me and your colleagues. Put your phone away NOW!
Me: But it’s…
CEO: (My name), please give me your phone.
He then proceeds to snatch the phone from my hands and put it in his pocket for the remainder of the meeting, which lingers on for another hour and a half. When it’s over, I head back to my desk to check on my emails, and it turns out the contractor needed some help from us to complete the update. It finally goes live a few hours later than expected. The CEO then calls me into his office.
CEO: (My name), I was extremely disappointed in your behaviour during today’s meeting. You were very rude to me and your fellow employees. I expect a much higher level of professionalism from you, and I will not stand for this kind of attitude again.
Me: Well, with all due respect…
CEO: I’m not finished. Then there’s the website situation. I told you that you were accountable for it going live within the hour. It was four hours late, which means we might have lost some potential customers. This is absolutely unacceptable; the company depends on all its employees being on point and delivering on their objectives. I’ll be keeping a close eye on you from now on, and we might have to rediscuss your future here if I don’t see a clear improvement. Is that understood?
(At this point I’m fuming and consider going into an expletive-laden tirade, but the job market back then was kind of hard and I figure I couldn’t afford getting fired and having a bad reference)
Me: Yeah. Understood.
CEO: Great. You can go now. Oh, and here, you can have your phone back.
Long story short, this is one of many incidents involving this CEO behaving badly, and from that point on I began looking frantically for a new job. Fast forward a few years later, I’m happily employed somewhere else, while his company went bankrupt earlier this year.