Swing for the Heart

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Strengthening the strategy

“Jenny, is that you?” Ray was surprised she was coming to work already at six in the morning.

“It’s me, but what are you doing here so early?”

“I’m here since half past five. I want to organize something here and do a bit of thinking.”

“That’s convenient. I got up early because I wanted to ask you if I could leave at noon today. My parents are arriving from Toronto. I have to prepare a little.”

“Bake something good for them, Jenny, and bring me a piece too.”

“Maybe you would fire me afterwards, Ray.”

“Bring it and we’ll see.”

They made a good team. Jenny understood the business tactics and philosophy the way Ray promoted them, and identified with his principles. She now believed she played a part in the future success of their firm. Based on their website, they didn’t even appear as a small company, run by only two people.

“But you wanted to suggest something, no?” changed the subject Jenny.

“Jenny, yes. It’s important that you get ready for a swim on a single breath, so to speak.”

“You’re scaring me.”

“I don’t mean to do that. Could you make some coffee, please?” Now Jenny realized something historic was about to happen and grew more serious.

“Of course, yes.”

Did she do something wrong? Is he planning to let her go? What happened? Is HeartGong in some financial trouble? But she would know about that.

“…would you like me to add a little bit of chocolate?”

“That will be necessary. I need a strong and excellent cup of coffee. And you should have a shot of rum.” That didn’t sound good. Surely he wouldn’t fire her. Does he have someone else? Maybe he’d heard from the dude who was moseying around in Vancouver? Who was that, anyway? If Ray wanted to hire him, that’s one thing. But to replace her with a stranger like that? Jenny’s hands began to shake a little and she felt woozy and faint. She was excited to tell her parents about her job and the important position she had. And now this?

Coffee was ready and Jenny hesitated before she entered Ray’s office. She took a breath and walked in.

“Have a seat, Jenny.” She slumped into the chair facing Ray. It’s absurd. Only recently she herself was considering looking elsewhere, and now she was afraid she may lose her job at HeartGong. What did she do?

“Did something happen, Ray?”

“Jenny, our company HeartGong has now been functioning for a year. As you know, it is very difficult to break through into the market. Competition is strong, often uncompromising in its means. To sail in a small boat is a fragile destiny.”

She was listening and heard her own heart beat in her chest. Ray continued. “You know I never painted anything with rosy colors. At the same time, I wish to wholeheartedly thank you for everything you’ve brought to the company. From day one you worked with a personal commitment and your heart. I want to tell you I really value that….”

He took a sip of coffee, “…what magic trick do you have, Jenny, for preparing such coffee? It’s really superior to anything else.” Jenny shrugged and smiled awkwardly.

“I make it the way you like it, Ray.”

Ray nodded: “I have to make certain changes.” There it is. “To be more precise, let’s say, change our personnel strategy.” Jenny fidgeted in her chair and didn’t want to hear another word. She anticipated what could follow.

Ray continued. “I’ll put it like this…”

‘…ok, you don’t have to beat around the bush…’ thought Jenny to herself.

“…we managed to penetrate into the market with valves, cardiostimulators, stents, those are the vascular supports, and – thanks to you – also with oxygenators. Am I right?”

“Yes,” she whispered and immediately corrected herself more loudly, “yes.”

“I want to do more and go further. Jenny, when a patient needs electrocardiological examination, his physician prescribes it and sends the patient to the lab, where – next to blood tests – they also take his electrocardiogram. Think about it. What if sometimes the doctor doesn’t need the blood sample? Maybe he just wants a cardiological check-up. He doesn’t wish to send the patient away, only to let him sit in another waiting room. So imagine that a doctor could have a small device directly in his office. He would welcome it. It wouldn’t even have to be a twelve lead. Or it could be. That would be his choice.” Jenny watched Ray intently, but still didn’t know where he was going, and, more specifically, how this would affect her. Ray continued. “He would still have the option of sending the patient to the lab and letting a cardiologist assess the result. But in addition, he’d have this second, attractive opportunity. To carry out the examination himself.” Ray left his idea exposed for a moment.

“You would like…you’d like to…?”

“Yes, Jenny. To include in our product-line also small electrographs. Simple, portable types. To offer to individual medical offices. Send them an email; go there, visit the physicians and organize a workshop. And if I take the thought a step further, maybe become an educational institution for interpreting electrocardiograms. What do you think? Nobody does that. I think this is a gap in the market.” Ray knew this was a daring stunt and immediately explained the risks.

“You know, Jenny, this presupposes first buying several of such devices. To acquaint ourselves with them, understand the needs and requirements of physicians, and be able to successfully demonstrate how they work. Do it in such a way that the doctors will want to have them on hand. Some will likely say that the work is double. That they don’t want to be wasting time in their office, when they can send their patient to the lab and simply wait for the result. It’s risky, because it’s possible that we will buy a few of these machines and in the end they won’t get sold – that there won’t be enough interest. That’s a business risk.”

“And…this business project, is it somehow related to – how should I put it – to my position here?” She said it.

“Yes it is, Jenny. It is. I’ll say it straight. Jenny, for the next few days, I would need you to be here for ten, maybe even twelve hours. But the problem is that for now I can’t pay you overtime.” She was so relieved. He’s counting on her!

“Of course, sure. That’s no problem at all.” Jenny was talking fast, “I understand, of course. We’re trying something new, so we need the money and someone who will be monitoring it.”

“Jenny, but I can’t pay you for the extra hours. At least not now. We have to start it up, and it’s possible that nothing will come of it in the end.”

“That’s business life, no?” She was glad that nothing was changing. Is that really all? That he can’t pay her more? She’s on her own. She doesn’t need extra money and, besides, she likes working at HeartGong.

“Well I’m relieved, Jenny. I was afraid you’d wave me goodbye. So everything stays the same?”

“Of course. Certainly, Ray! I thought you’d hired some bigger expert. To replace me.”

“Jenny, you really thought that? Please, I wouldn’t find anyone better! The fact that things are looking up is your doing. That congress in Vancouver was a jumping board and now I’m just humbly building on your work.”

“Stop it, Ray. Since you mentioned Vancouver, I was wondering whether you’d heard from that man who took our business card.”

“No, he hasn’t called. But I couldn’t hire anyone now, anyway. Maybe for free. Did he call you, Jenny?”

“I would’ve told you. I haven’t heard from him or about him. He was strange. He behaved differently than the rest. I don’t know what to think about him. He hasn’t written, called, he fell off the earth. Vancouver was the last place I saw him. Then nothing, not a trace.” Ray watched her for a long time; she knew that the man in the picture, standing near the jazz stage, had remained stuck in his mind somehow. Ray was sensitive to people.

“Be it as it may, Jenny. Whoever calls asking about a job, you don’t need to transfer him. I give you full authority to let everyone know – without exception – that we’re not hiring right now. There’s nothing we can do. Nobody.”

“I’ll take care of it.”

“But that means, Jenny, that on this boat you’re the lifeguard, cook, and the first mate.”

“Deal.”

“Let’s do it. Now, please find some portable electrocardiographs. Maybe we can even import them from Europe, it will depend. Let’s contact manufacturers directly. So, Jenny, are you ready?”

“Yes, I’m looking forward to it and believe in it.”

“And nobody else onboard?”

“Nobody.”

“So let’s get started and maybe we can even order pizza again. Not yet, it’s early, but for lunch, why not.”

“I’m so happy, Ray. I love working for HeartGong.”

“I know, because of the pizza.”

“Of course! Why else?” laughed Jenny.

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