“Let’s put it on the agenda for a future meeting,” proposed Williams.

Board members other than Carraro leapt aboard this lifeboat, nodding

emphatically, glancing at watches. “We’ve just about run out of time

here, and many people have other places they need to be.”

Barton nodded and began collecting his things. Overall, the presen-

tation had been a spectacular success. I’m on a roll, he thought to him-

self. Can’t wait to tell my team.

The meeting began to break up, fragmenting into separate conversa-

tions. Some people left right away, rushing off to other engagements.

Carraro stopped to shake Barton’s hand before he departed. In the course

The Road of Trials


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of a brief chat, Carraro proposed that the two of them should have

lunch sometime, an idea Barton quite liked. They parted company after

agreeing to exchange e-mail on several more subjects. Barton had not

counted on having such a strong ally on the board, but he could see

only good in it.

Moments later, as Barton turned to leave the room, Carl Williams

stepped away from a conversation he was in to whisper: “Great job.

Stop by my office before you leave today, I want to talk briefly.” Barton

nodded, and Williams ducked back into the conversation he’d been in-

volved in before. Hmmm, thought Barton. Guess we’ll find out what was

bothering him during the meeting.

Williams had provided almost no feedback on the PowerPoint slides

in his meeting with Barton on Tuesday afternoon. But now he was

clearly stirred up about something. Barton would find out what it was

soon enough.

Thursday, June 14, 5:38 p.m. . . .

Barton stuck his head through the doorway to Williams’s office. “You

wanted to see me, Carl?”

Williams looked up from something he’d been reading. “Yes, Jim,

come in.” Williams stayed in his command chair, behind the enormous

desk, and motioned Barton into a chair opposite. Barton considered

this odd. Williams had always used the table in the room for past con-

versations with Barton. Moving to the table said, “Let’s talk as equals.”

Remaining behind the desk said, “I’m the boss and you work for me.”

Barton tried not to think too much into this choice, but it was hard not

to notice the departure from a past norm. Maybe Carl was simply tired.


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