Friday, March 4, 2016

Who is this Guy?

This has been a rough week for MJ and I. We lost someone that we didn't really even know personally, but who impacted us in incredible ways.

When we heard the news on Monday about Aubrey McClendon being indicted.. all I kept thinking was.. "Ugh.Again. I'm so sick of hearing this crap". Was the man perfect? No. But we both always get fiercely defensive when talks of Aubrey come up.

I went to work at Chesapeake in the Summer of 2010. This was after I had been Let-go from the radio business and all my hopes and dreams were pretty much crushed at that point. Because I was on the radio for 13 years, I didn't know much about Chesapeake. I had heard about it.. and Drove by the awesome campus.. but I didn't "KNOW" what it was about. When I lost my job, both MJ and my mom kept saying "You should try to get on at Chesapeake, everyone who works there loves it".. and I kept thinking, "Why?".. I mean you have to imagine that for me, going from being an entertainer, to working at a corporate oil and Gas Company seemed like a stretch.. But God Works in mysterious Ways.

Out of the blue one day a message popped up from Linked In. An IT Project Manager, Bill, wrote me

"KC... I work at Chesapeake Energy... and wondered if you want me to inquire about a job for you there... Chesapeake is primarly a natural gas exploration and production company... very rapidly growing... It isn't radio **smile**, but most jobs pay well.. the culture is "hard working"... I don't know if there would be a match... but I can ask if you are interested. Bill"

On 5/25/2010, Bill McKinney said the following:

Bill would come to be a very important man to me. All I kept thinking, while super excited about this, was "Why in the world would this guy think I was even capable of working in the IT department at Chesapeake?" But for some odd reason.. he did.. 

My interview was hilarious. You have to remember people are LINED UP to work at Chesapeake. Most people would apply and never hear anything back.. This is my interview.. 
IT Person: So do you have a lot of IT experience?
Me: Well. In Radio IT. Like Editing Videos, web design, and Cool Edit. 
IT Person: Ok. Do you have any Experience with Windows Migrations?
Me: I use Vista. 
IT Person: Ok. Well do you think you can do the job?
ME: Yes. Whatever you need. 
And I was hired as a contractor in July 2010 to Help Bill Upgrade People to Windows 7. 

At first It was a complete and total Culture shock. Some ways Great.. other ways Awful. I basically had gone from entertaining people for 5 hours a morning to learning about Application development, Windows 7 Technical meetings, and how to CC people on an Email.. I was in a foreign land for my brain.. But my spirit was growing. Even though I was only a contractor I was still allowed to walk on this beautiful Campus. A campus with Ducks swimming in a pond underneath a bridge.. With beautiful fountains and trees that were planted exactly where the sun would shine through them every morning. Flowers that were planted AROUND those trees according to the season. Beautifully manicured lawns with Grass that stayed Green.. Amazing Restaurants with Culinary Chefs that made everything taste just a little bit better.. I mean it was like living in a magical land! 

After being there only a short time I realized I had one goal in mind.. I had to become a Real, Live, Chesaperson. Contractors don't get to do all the amazing things Chesapeople did.. and after I first Witnessed Halloween at Chesapeake.. Halloween was BIG at Chesa.. Big Prizes, big costumes, big food, big everything. It was AMAZING. One of my favorite things.. People went ALL OUT!  I realized I had to kick it up a notch. I HAD to be a Chesaperson!

Thankfully Bill was one of the smartest people I've ever been around in my life. Everyone Respected that guy. Wanted him to run their projects.. Wanted HIM on their team.. and for some reason he had Chosen ME.. So everyone just expected me to be Great like Bill.. Well.. I wasn't.. But I was funny, and entertaining.. And Bill liked that, and it happened to come in handy when we were dealing with Computer users.. So it was a perfect Match.. Bill took me everywhere with him.. Introduced me to Important People.. put me in important meetings.. And by the end of that Year I had 3 people asking me to be on their teams as a Real Chesaperson. I was elated.. you know why? Because Halloween was just around the Corner. You should know, that in my 2 years as a Chesaperson..I won the Halloween Contest.. both years. 
3 Months into my Official Chesaperson Life.. I was told to prepare for my Aubrey Meeting.. Now your Aubrey meeting is something you both Love & Fear. I was always amazed, that out of a company of 10,000 people, the CEO Still wanted to meet every single one of those people.. So my new Boss started to prepare me.. Give me the do's and don'ts, and asked me to be thinking about what I wanted my Aubrey Question to be.. But I already knew.. I was going to ask him when I could start a Chesapeake radio station. It made perfect sense to me. I worked up a logo, business plan, and got it ready.. Thankfully I had a really cool Boss at the time that didn't try to discourage me from asking my question.. He just told me I'd better really be ready to bring it when Aubrey answered.. 

My Aubrey meeting was just like everyone had said.. We all went into a big room, about 35 of us.. and waited for him to get there.. He showed up, on time, and went and sat right in the middle of the room. He was a BIG guy. Way Bigger than I was thinking.. He had a presence about him immediately.. and he ended up sitting right in front of me.. I was the 2nd person to ask my question (my boss had given me the heads up to sit to the right of Aubrey because he started on the right..and that way no one could possibly have the chance to ask the same question I was going to ask).. So when he got to me It went like this.

Aubrey: Hi there, tell me about you. Where you are from, How you got here, and What you do for me.
ME: I'm KC Sheperd, from Canute Oklahoma
Aubrey: Ahh yes. Home of the Trojans!
Me: Yes. I used to be a radio personality on KKNG and one of your IT guys thought I would be good at upgrading people to Windows 7. 
Aubrey: From Radio?
Me: Yes. 
Aubrey: Why would he think that? (we are both laughing at this point)
Me: I have no idea, but turns out he was right and I'm actually really good at it. 
Aubrey: Good to know. Glad he made a wise decision. 
ME: I agree. I work in IT now. I coordinate all the moves on Campus. 
Aubrey: Very good. That is a big job with as much as we move around here. Whats your Question?
Me: Given my extensive radio background, With all the technology we currently have on campus. why don't we start a Chesapeake Radio Station?
Aubrey:. Hmm. I had not thought about doing that. (looks to his assistant) Write that down and get back to her. Good question KC. 

And I really think we would have.. But not too long after that.. the Rolling Stone article came out and Chesapeake, and Aubrey had to go on the defensive. In My Aubrey meeting he told us to be "Endlessly Curious" and that is something I will always tell my girls. At at meeting he also handed us a giant bag of books. He loved to read.. it was like 15 books that he recommended to us. They ranged from new stuff, oil stuff, old stuff, entertainment.. etc.. He was always doing that. He would send out emails that he thought we would like.. He called every employee on their birthday and left them a voice message. Little things that took up SO much of his very important time. But he did them because he knew it made a difference to people.. and it made a BIG difference to me. 

I didn't have any more 1 on 1 time with Aubrey after that day.. But I felt so inspired by him. I emailed him a few times to let him know how much I appreciated how pretty the campus was, and how awesome it was to be a part of his vision.. I loved walking across the bridge to the fitness center each morning watching the ducks. He always emailed me back and said thank you. 

Even though I didn't see him a lot. I was fiercely protective of him. I felt the need to defend him to all the pessimists at every turn. To Protect him when anyone said anything bad about him. Because to me, he was a guy that GOT it. He knew that if you worked hard for your employees, and treated them well, they would work hard for you. After working for some really awful people in my career.. this was so refreshing. So exciting to have someone to look up to, a visionary.. Someone who was so charismatic when they spoke.. I didn't even have to know what he was talking about to know that I wanted to be a part of it. 

Throughout my short 2 years at Chesapeake.. I met so many great people.. Robin Wood, the Chesapastor was one of them. He would end up marrying Jordan and I and play an important role in our lives going forward. Aubrey was a true man of faith and thought it was important that the Chesapeake Campus have someone we could talk to when problems arose.. It was important to him.

So many friends.. that I still keep in touch with, and some that I work with now at Loves.. We all shared the same love for the Company Aubrey had built. The Amazing Parties..The Snacks, The Clothes,  The awesome "Chef's Specials" on Thursday.. the Incredible Campus.. The Christmas Lights! The Fitness Center..The Orange Juice that came freshly squeezed from the Orange Juice Squeezing Machine!!!  It was like we were all a part of the Cool Club.. We still are.. we still talk about it. We knew we were all living in a magical Land.. but boy was it fun while it lasted!

When Jordan was thinking about changing jobs from the Government.. to Aubrey's new company, AEP.. I told him.. "This will be an amazing opportunity for you. But if you go, don't go for money, Don't go for the job, Go because you believe in what Aubrey is doing".. and he went. Up to that point he thought I was a little insane about Aubrey. He didn't 'get it' yet.. But soon after he had his own Aubrey meeting, and several hilarious elevator conversations with him.. and he soon grew to see what everyone found so special about him. He never forgot Jordan's name.. Always slapped him on the back and told him he appreciated him. Had the BEST Christmas party ever that first year for AEP that I got to go too.. It was just awesome. All of it. Just like it had been at Chesapeake for me. 

I know that I will probably never know a guy like that in my life again. That is what is the most sad. Even though I didn't work for Aubrey anymore, I loved the fact that he was still out there pioneering and inspiring other people. I still will fiercely defend him. Especially now. And I understand those of you who don't get it.. thats ok. You don't know until you meet him, and sadly now you won't get to..

My thoughts and prayers are with his family, but I know they know what a special guy they had. How he inspired so many people and how even if you didn't KNOW him one on one, you knew you always wanted to know he was Out there.. Onward and Upward Aubrey. You were truly One of a kind, and I know the Good Lord is excited to have you up there! 

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