If you get the feeling that your buyer’s CEO is avoiding you, you’re probably right.

Don’t take it personally. It’s just that, well, CEOs are kinda busy with that whole running-the-company thing. And they don’t really need to hear from you about how your new X-47 whatsis is going to save the company time, money and effort. They can get all that in an e-mail.

What they might be interested in, however, is what their people are thinking and saying. Because that’s always of interest to a CEO. Especially when it comes directly from an outsider instead of being filtered up through their own organization.

So maybe you talked to Jerry on the production line. He’s spending an hour a day hauling scrap out to the Dumpster. If the company would just buy him a powered cart, he could cut that time to one hour a week. The investment would pay for itself in about a month, but nobody’s ever asked him about it.

The CEO is going to be pretty interested in what you learned from Jerry. For one thing, Jerry’s idea could save the company money. For another thing, Jerry could get frustrated and find a new job. And perhaps most important, what does the organization need to do to ensure that all the Jerrys get heard?

Talk about what Jerry said, instead of your latest whatsis, and the CEO will be all ears.

That’s why the best way to reach the CEO’s door is the long way. Work your way down the organizational chart before you try to move up.

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