The 12-year-old CEO

April 1, 2016

This person looked about as much as a 12-year-old as do I, and at the risk of sounding rude I told him that perhaps one of us had enjoyed a little too much champagne. "I will explain," he said, and proceeded to tell me a story.

I recently met a man. This friend of an old ophthalmologist friend of mine offered to take us for a ride in his beautiful boat (a yacht) on a warm sunny day. He picked us up at the beach, gave us chilled champagne and cruised parallel to the shoreline on a crystal clear Caribbean sea that was as smooth as glass. He pointed out the sights while he spoke about his business and himself. Anyone would be in a good mood while on a yacht on a perfect day like this, but the smiles and charm of this man probably helped contribute to his success in business. At one point, he mentioned his age; he was twelve.

"Excuse me," I interrupted.  "It sounded like you said you are twelve years old." 

"That's right," he responded.

This person looked about as much as a twelve-year-old as do I, and at the risk of sounding rude I told him that perhaps one of us had enjoyed a little too much champagne. 

"I will explain," he said, and proceeded to tell me a story.

Twelve years ago, the workaholic CEO of a large construction company, he was constantly on the go, building his company, overseeing his employees, and traveling to monitor his many projects in multiple countries. An intensely competitive person, his only non-work activity was racing powerboats. One day while racing, his boat and another crashed and flipped. He was trapped under water for quite a while. By the time he was removed from the wreck, he was pulseless and not breathing.

"I was dead," he summarized.

"He will be an idiot!"

 

The emergency responders who had come out to the wreck in another boat turned to the man's wife. "He is dead," they told her, and asked if she wanted them to try to revive him. He had been underwater long enough, the rescuers said, that it was probable that, if they successfully revived him, her husband would be left with major brain injury.

According to my storyteller, they were reluctant to begin resuscitation efforts. "He will be an idiot," is how my new friend claimed they described the likely scenario. They said she would not be criticized if she told them to let nature take its course.

"He already is an idiot. Revive him!" was the wife's response.

He responded (obviously) to the CPR. He did indeed have major sequelae from the anoxia.

It took six months of therapy before he could perform a lot of tasks reasonably well and return to work. He learned that his employees in his company knew what they were doing and did not require his constant oversight; the company had thrived during his long absence. 

"When I was recovered enough to leave my home and be in the world again, I promised myself to begin living life and not waste it by constantly working, micromanaging others, or trying to make more money than I need," said my new friend.  "That day, twelve years ago, was when my life really began."