But I had an experience recently that helped revise my perspective on the wisdom of attacking every obstacle on every course. I found myself not long ago walking into one of the most beautiful office lobbies in Manhattan. Before I reached the elevators, an impeccably tailored security guard politely noted my laptop and indicated his need to inspect it. He handled it with a gentleness I have yet to see in a New York airport. In the marble floored elevator, I watched the numbers quickly shoot up to 23. Stepping off the elevator I was greeted by my host and led into an oak-paneled boardroom. A lunch catered by the Four Seasons was on the table, and my host was pouring me a glass of cabernet. This was old school—no women, no people of color, no one under 50, just an old time board of directors with a sense of its own importance and a taste for the finer things.
But just as I was beginning to relax, the lead director began grilling me about the weight and nature of my potential contributions. He was a personality I recognized from one of television's talking-head news shows. He loved to hear himself speak between commercials, and it seemed he had a script in front of him then. His celebrity status sufficiently intimidated the other directors, who sat by as he worked up to a rant.
I had a couple of choices. My usual stance was to engage in combat with such an individual, put him in his place with my knowledge of the drug industry, confident of my record and performance. I would treat him as a water hazard or a wall and go around him or over him. Contemplating what I would say when he finally shut his mouth, a new thought occurred to me, one I had never considered before: I could just leave.