"I’m sorry, but I just don’t think you are committed as much as I am to this." It was the sort of conversation that takes place between founder and staff member at lots of startups. It was the very early days of my company, Portland, and I was having a frank exchange with my first employee, Rachel Whetstone — except it was Rachel, calling me late at night, who was telling me to up my work rate.
It was classic Rachel, the type of call that exemplifies her amazing career. Her commitment to the company or the cause she selects knows no bounds. She is fearless in her frankness. And she doesn’t tolerate poor performers, whatever their position.
Those qualities have been at the heart of her richly deserved success. She wins the confidence of her employers with her impeccable judgment on complex issues, astounds them with her boundless energy and kick-the-door-down attitude, then she takes their breath away by telling them where they have been going wrong.
That combination makes her the perfect communications adviser. When I hired Rachel, her previous boss, a British guy called David Cameron, told me I had hired a star. He was not wrong.