The loss of my top talent put me into and even more frantic hiring mode than our typical breakneck pace. The typical pace was set by Dave. Here is an example of how he set it: I announced that I had landed a small new piece of work – two people for six months. He shook his head and corrected me. “No, that’s four people for three months’ worth of work. Better get busy hiring.”
One guy I brought on was a software project manager by the name of Gary Giordano who had just left Booz Allen. I consider myself a keen judge of technical competence and Gary seemed ok at first. But I started noticing that something was weird about the guy. One time I joined him for a marketing call. To my surprise, he was driving a pretty decent Mercedes. I knew how much he was making so the car seemed a little over the top. He pulled into a filling station and the cashier came out to tell him his credit card had been rejected. He asked me to hand him a box under my seat and when he opened it, I saw it was stuffed with credit cards. When I asked him about them he smiled and said, “If you keep enough of those in play you’ll never get caught.”
A short time later he gave me his time sheet to sign and I noticed that he hadn’t taken leave on a day he told me he was off. When I confronted him about it, he winked at me and said, “Come on. We both know how the game is played. You just bill the government for the time. What do they know? We keep this between us.” He was a large guy and somewhat intimidating, despite wearing a ludicrous toupee. It seemed he often tried to force me into compromising positions, ethical dilemmas. I knew I was the boss and that I had the upper hand but, even so, he made me kind of scared. It wasn’t a role I knew and it made me very uncomfortable.
This behavior continued for a few months. And I began to puzzle out how I could get rid of him before things got any worse. As the holidays approached, we scheduled our annual Christmas party – and as usual it was set up to be a gala affair. We’d rented a large fancy hotel ballroom at a plush downtown hotel and many people had also rented rooms. Nancy and I were comp’ed an amazing Presidential suite by my brother Bill. He was the head of the Sales and Marketing team there, so he had gotten the company a good deal. We partied pretty hard before the event had even gotten started. Then I partied a bit more than I should have as the evening got under way. At one point during the evening, as I was speaking to two young women from the firm, Gary approached me. He threw his arm around my shoulder and rubbed his knuckles into my hair. Then he looked at the two women and said, “You’re talking to my bitch.”
I stopped his clowning and asked if I could have a private word. We walked into the hall and I said, “You’re fired. Get out of here right now.” Now I admit I had a well-earned reputation for letting people go. But always before and since that involved a process I called ‘out-counseling’. I’d let the person know that there seemed to be a misfit between what they were providing and what we were looking for. Then I always gave people time to try to work it out. I often also suggested they start looking for another job while they still had their current one. I have had that conversation at least forty times and it has always worked out well for all concerned. I felt bad about firing him on the spot – and ashamed it had been while I had been drinking – and particularly at the Christmas party.
My colleagues were of course duly shocked. But to a person they all agreed he had it coming. Just that it never should have happened at the Christmas party. The story followed me for decades and wove itself into the Marasco Newton lore. In fact, ten years into our corporate history, the company unveiled a long banner at a corporate event. The banner listed our major contract wins along with other key corporate accomplishments. There, under December 1994, someone had added, ‘Mike fires Gary at the Christmas Party’.
Gary resurfaced one more time later in my life. In 2011, I was returning from a trip to Alaska when I saw an article like this one: http://people.com/crime/aruba-mystery-what-happened-to-missing-robyn-gardner/
Aruba Mystery: What Happened to Missing Robyn Gardner?
“Robyn Gardner was supposed to be in Orlando with her parents. At least that’s what she told her boyfriend, Richard Forester…In fact, the 35-year-old beautiful, blond Maryland woman with a radiant smile had traveled to the Caribbean with a man named Gary Giordano, a 50-year-old businessman also from Maryland with a disturbing past. Now, Gardner is missing and presumed dead, Giordano is being detained, and questions are mounting about what happened during their island stay.
The mystery has only deepened as authorities in Aruba begin releasing details from the investigation. The most recent shocker was the discovery of graphic photographs on Giordano’s digital camera. The images, a source tells PEOPLE are “beyond pornographic”…The leads have been provocative. Along with the photos, authorities revealed they’re looking into a $1.5 million accidental death insurance policy that Giordano reportedly took out on Gardner before their trip.
To this day, more than five years after Roybn’s disappearance, Gary remains a free – if followed – man. He was denied a payout for the insurance claim due to suspicions that he is responsible for her disappearance, and the U.S. police have arrested him several times on various unrelated charges.”
News of these developments quickly reached my old friends at MNG. Many said to me that it proved my instincts were right. I replied each time, “Maybe, but it still doesn’t justify firing him at the Christmas party.”