I met Tiger Woods in 2001 on my first day of work at Kemper Insurance. When I use the word met, I use it loosely. I was having lunch at the company’s golf lodge with my new boss, who was the VP of Human Resources and the former VP of the real estate division. (That’s how HR works.)
My boss was a great guy. In retrospect, he was one of the best supervisors I ever had because he was just so humble and thoughtful. He had the right combination of gravitas and humility. Lunch was fantastic, too. We tried to pay the bill but the hostess said, “Wait a few minutes. There is a special guest who is due to arrive shortly.”
My boss asked, “Is it Michael Jordan?”
The hostess replied, “No. Bigger.”
My boss responded, “Who? God?”
This was Chicago, after all. The only person bigger than Michael Jordan is Al Capone.
So Tiger Woods walked into the golf lodge and my heart skipped a beat. He sat down for lunch at the table next to ours, and he didn’t make eye contact with anyone and didn’t say a word. He was a shy kid who seemed uncomfortable with the attention.
So we had an extra cup of coffee and stared at him a little while longer, of course.
Tiger excused himself and went to the restroom during his meal, and he looked straight ahead without meeting the eyes of anyone in the restaurant. He was a young man who looked very good at avoiding intimacy with the public. He looked like he knew how to manage boundaries.
That’s one helluva first day of work, don’t you think? I asked my boss, “Did you plan for me to meet Tiger Woods on my first day here?”
My boss said, “It’s like this every day.”
Oh yeah, it was nothing but celebrity golf outings and insurance company acquisitions & divestitures. Very compelling stuff for Us Weekly and People Magazine, don’t you think? I joined the company with great fanfare, and I left the company on my 28th birthday. It was an exhausting job, but I have great stories.
I’ll tell you one thing: my retirement plan wasn’t as good as Tiger’s PGA pension. That’s why he is a champion and I am a chump.