A Candid Interview With Rudolph (The Red-nosed Reindeer)

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Yes, we are talking about the same Rudolph. Maybe you’ve not met him but you know “His-story.” However before now he had not told “His-story,” because as he put it, “history” had distorted it, and no one would listen to him. Fortunately I got the opportunity to sit down and have a candid conversation with Rudolph – The Red-nosed Reindeer.

The story as we know it has been summed up in a Christmas Carol which we all know and love. We sing it with our kids, we sing it when we trounce through the snow caroling in our neighborhoods. It makes us feel good, makes us appreciate the season and makes us root for the underdog or under-deer in this case.

So how about if we get started!

Tony: Hello Rudolph it is an absolute pleasure to have the opportunity to finally visit with you. I have only a few questions and would like to jump right in.

Rudolph: No problem Tony, but first off let’s make sure that everyone understands that you are not speaking with an actual reindeer. The story has been distorted to cover up a societal issue that needs to be addressed. I do appreciate the Christmas Carol done in my honor, however, along with that there has been a certain amount of pain associated with it. As a result, this being my first interview, I want to set “history” or “my-story” straight. Today you will hear my-story, understanding that all history is not necessarily true; but the interpretations of past events thought to be true based on who told the story.

Tony: Thank you Rudolph. But aren’t you getting a little touchy here? You know people love you and respect you for your long history and accomplishments.

Rudolph: I’m sorry that I come across a little touchy or on edge, and that is not my intent. You must understand that my style might be a little different than yours and my experiences might be a little different, therefore, I might respond differently based on the circumstances or the topic.

Tony: You’re right, my apology. So the story goes, Rudolph the red-nosed reindeer, had a very shiny nose…

Rudolph: Well, Tony it’s pretty obvious, that I don’t have a red nose. What is also obvious is that I just so happen to be a 6’5” tall Black man. Add on to that, the fact that I don’t today and never have played in the NBA or the NFL. As a mater of fact, I don’t necessarily like sports that much. What the story doesn’t tell you is that I have a Wharton MBA; I’m an avid reader and I’d rather take my daughters to the ballet than to go and suck down beer at a Raiders game.

Tony: I see. So I assume you get a lot of questions and comments about sports and other things because of your height?

Rudolph: If you could only imagine. I sat next to a guy on an airplane who talked for hours about basketball and football and people he knew who played. And of course I heard the obvious statements about some of his best friends are athletes. Some say it goes with the territory; well quite frankly it’s territory I’d rather not be in. But how do you tell a person that you would rather not go down that path, without you coming off as a jerk?

Tony: You have a point. We should think before we speak and listen to see how people are responding to our conversation.

Tony: Moving on, the story continues “And if you ever saw him, you would even say it glows,” so what do you say to that?

Rudolph: Well as I stated earlier, people want to make me an athlete, therefore when they see me they automatically stereotype me. Some might even say it’s a positive stereotype because I’m usually professionally dressed and I work in a highly professional environment. However, from my point of view, there is nothing positive about it. I respect athletes, however I am not one and would rather not be categorized that way.

Tony: That’s fair. The next piece of this story goes: All of the other reindeer use to laugh and call him names, they never let poor Rudolph join in any reindeer games.

Rudolph: Well this is a double-edged sword. You see, first and foremost, it has been very difficult to get to where I am today. However, I have persevered. When I first started with my firm, I got a few invitations from the guys to play in company basketball leagues and I declined. I finally gave in and played in a couple of games. Well, quite frankly, I’m not very good. After that, there were no more invitations. This was fine but there were so many jokes told at my expense, to the point I almost quit my job. Some of these jokes were quite cruel, like “I hope he manages his budget better than he plays basketball.” Of course the two have nothing to do with one another but I became the butt of jokes and wasn’t taken seriously when it came to the job I was paid to do.

These guys who were into the basketball, golf and other activities developed bonds outside of the office that I was not a part of and those relationships spilled back over into the office. Unfortunately for me, many key assignments went to those who had the relationships.

Tony: Wow, that’s pretty incredible. It is unfortunate that you experienced this. What has happened since then?

Rudolph: Well, one foggy Christmas Eve (not really, we were actually entering the most critical quarter of our year and things looked bleak), Santa (the boss) came to say: “Hey Rudolph, with your nose so bright, won’t you guide my sleigh tonight? (Well he actually said, Hey Rudolph you are the only one on this team who I trust to help get us through this tough time. It’s time we put that MBA to work. I would like for you to work with me to guide us through this tough period we are facing).

Well, I may not be an athlete but I am a winner. We were very successful and the quarter ended well and it set us up for a successful year and we all got big bonuses.

Tony: That’s fantastic! I’m sure as a result; all of the reindeer loved you, as they shouted out with glee…!

Rudolph: Big bonuses will do that but as for as going down in “history;” I’d still like the history to be more accurate. More importantly, I simply want to be recognized for my talent and accepted as an equal team member. No special treatment, and I don’t want to have to do something heroic to be accepted. Do you understand what I mean?

Tony: I understand more than you can imagine!

LOL. I indeed hope my silly take on a classic Christmas Carol did not offend anyone. This was just for fun and I’m sure that Robert May who wrote the original poem, Johnny Marks who composed the musical version and Gene Autry who recorded the musical version were not looking at this as a Diversity topic. Or were they? The world may never know!

Thanks for your indulgence. I invite comments at tony@executivefocusonline.com or visit my site at www.executivefocusonline.com.

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