One night a number of years ago, I was completing a business dinner with one of my European Presidents in his home city. Dinner ends early that evening and he asks if I would like to go back to his home for a drink. He mentions that his wife is there and she always enjoys chatting with me. Sounds great!

His wife, like all our European Presidents’ wives or girlfriends was attractive and very smart. She was a social science professor and lectured throughout Europe. We will call her Sylvia. Because her husband had been with my employer, Donn Corporation, for a number of years, Sylvia had met a number of our unique people from Donn.

We went to their home and adjourned to the living room for a drink. As soon as we sat, my European President friend seemed to disappear from the room and maybe the house, so I was left alone with his wife, chatting.

Sylvia knew that I was the Chief Financial guy from the U.S. headquarters but she asked me to explain exactly what I do for the Donn group of companies. I covered the normal financial stuff-borrowing money, insurance, taxes and record keeping.

She asked me to explain further what I do for the Company.

I touched on helping the owners of Donn with hiring and sometimes firing managers and setting rewards and incentives. I also explained some of the many crisis matters that I covered which ranged from financial to organizational ones. I went into the idea of planning and anticipating outside threats that can damage the Company. I also stated that a standard role of financial people is to safeguard the Company’s assets whether those were hard assets like plants or soft assets like people.

As I was talking, Sylvia listened intently, nodding in understanding or asked a clarification or followup question.

This went on for almost an hour until she stopped and smiled.

“Brad,” she said, “you are really not the head financial person. You are more like the head person in a zoological park. You care for the wild or exotic animals inside. Protect them from each other and the outside world. You help them grow strong. If one behaves badly you correct or remove them. At times you even shield them from the owners. And although, it is not your zoo, you would defend it with your life, if need be!”

Over the years, I concluded she was right. And interestingly, a few years later, I did have to remove her husband from Donn.

Much of my business life seemed to be dealing with unique creatures, human and animal. This blog, and my soon to be published book, will help you learn to tame these creatures while allowing you to capture opportunities. So join me in The Business Zoo.