Every once in a while, I've needed to listen to who I call the "big loud guy".  Most of the time it really is a big loud guy, bigger than I am in most cases (and I'm not small) and louder than me. That's going a long way because I've been told that I can be a big loud guy. When I was an employee, even in leadership positions, I always seemed to have a specific type of ally, someone who was larger than life, self assured, and was always there for me... and it was almost always a big loud guy.

Big Loud Cow

The big loud guy hasn’t always been male; matter of fact, my first big loud guy was a woman. 🙂 The big loud guy doesn’t have to be big or a guy obviously, but loud is definitely part of the job description. The thing about the "big loud guy" is about how they come across to others. To some they can seem intimidating; to others, they're big pussycats.

Loud, to some people, can come across as threatening, arrogant, conceited, or pushy. There are definitely people like that. From my perspective, when it comes to a big loud guy who I see as a mentor, it's a person who’s pretty sharp, willing to offer a thought on almost anything, and is usually correct. This is a person who’s willing to step in and get the job done, with or without anyone's help, and they’ve usually already thought everything through before beginning. They’re not infallible, but then, who is.

Overall, what they project is a sense of confidence, and who doesn't want to be caught up in that?  When you get to spend any real time with "big loud guy",  you usually find them fairly engaging the intelligent, and you'll see that softer side that you might not notice immediately coming from them.  They're often very thoughtful and logical in their thinking, focused on their specific task at hand. 

Whenever I've been in a leadership position and had to lead a task force, I always have "big loud guy" on the team, because they always have ideas they're willing to share. They're also the ones who'll step up to help with the work before anyone else. I'm not sure I could have accomplished as much as I have without a lot of the big loud guys in my life.

The first big loud guy, as I said earlier, was a woman named Ruth. She was the vice president of patient financial services when I got my first position in health care. She was about my height, outweighed me when I met her, definitely loud, with a commanding presence.

She took to me after about a year, at a time when people at her level rarely dealt with people who did what I did. She knew her stuff, and though most people only got to see a different side of her at parties, when she could tell a bawdy story with the best of them, I got to spend time in her office just talking about things in general, not always work.

She was very insightful, and though rarely showed her softer side, I remember us sitting together in her office when the Challenger disaster occurred, and how we both sat listening on the radio to the commentary. I know she was instrumental in my getting a couple of positions later on, one where I used her as a recommendation while still working for her, another when I didn’t use her, but she offered her help anyway.

The second big loud guy was the vice president of the physician billing company I worked for. He was actually shorter than me, but he was still a big guy.

He was one of those guys who would tell you something straight out without worrying about whether it was politically correct or not. He was the kind of guy who would jump in his car in a heartbeat and drive to any office in the state, whether it was one of the billing offices or a physician’s office, and stand face to face with whomever he needed to deal with and deal with them on their level. If there was yelling, he’d yell; if there was laughter, he’d laugh. If he needed to find that one place where he could be accommodating without losing his self respect, he always seemed to find it. He helped to give me confidence that I could lead people, and I owe him big time for that.

The third big loud guy was the director of radiology at a hospital where I was business office manager. It turned out we had a longer history than we’d thought. We both lived in northern Maine on the same airbase at the same time, though he was in the service and I was living there with my parents. He remembered me as a center fielder with a great arm who could hit and steal bases, because he coached his son’s little league team for a couple of years. When I asked him why I never made the All Star team, he said they needed a place to put the pitchers; it probably explained why the team lost the second game every year. lol

He was someone who knew everything there was to know about his field of expertise, and a few other hospital departments also. He had a keen mind and a sharp wit, and confidence in his abilities. He was also ready to learn things from me, which was a first, and he always trusted everything I told him on how his department could capture more revenue. He used those same lessons many years later when he became assistant administrator of that same facility.

The fourth big loud guy was another director of radiology at the last hospital I worked at; must be something about radiology directors. He was the type who seemed to intimidate people until they got to know him. He was sharper than most people, very insightful, and someone with bundles of energy. He not only refereed hockey games, but he also made his own beer; that was another first for me.

He was the one person I always made sure was on any committee or task force I was asked to lead, because he had a way of figuring out what was important and helping us get right to what needed to be done, rather than spending a lot of time on extraneous things. He later became an even bigger success at an even bigger hospital, then finally as an independent consultant, and I can only hope I made the same kind of impression on his life as he did mine.

That brings me to my business today. It’s different being self employed because you spend a lot of time alone. This means that, unless I’m on assignment, it's rare that I run into big loud guys except for networking meetings.

On that front, I’ve made sure to cultivate relationships with different big loud guys, people who I can talk to from time to time to glean some of their knowledge. I sometimes call them up just to talk. I’ve been to lunch with them. Tall, short, male female... doesn't matter. What’s funny is that one of them once referred to me as a big loud guy; me! I have to admit that the irony strikes me funny because, I may be a big guy, and I guess I have times when I can be loud, but I’ve never considered myself in the same league as this type of person.

A big loud guy doesn’t have to be a big loud guy. It’s whoever that person is and what they bring to the table that helps and motivates you. A big loud guy is someone who gives you confidence. A big loud guy is someone who challenges you to be better. A big loud guy is someone you know will always have your best interest at heart. A big loud guy may not be all that talkative, but when he or she speaks you listen.

A big loud guy will make you better. We all need to look for our big loud guys, then look for the big loud guy within us. Here's to the "big loud guy"; may you continue sharing your presence with the world at large, because we need you more than ever.