Michael Reckless

How I picture Michael Reckless: As Red Hotter Rider from Warner Brothers’ 1944 “Buckeroo Bugs”


A few years ago, while working at PULSE, I wanted to listen in on a presentation the president of the company was giving to a industry group. I dialed in and the person who answered asked for a few details before letting me join the call, like “Your name, please.”

So I gave her my name and other sundry details and listened to the talk for the next hour. Enthralling stuff.

Afterwards, my manager hollered over to me, asking me to come into her office. I walk in and she asked if I listened into the call. I said yes and she started laughing. On her screen was the list of attendees to the call, and down towards the bottom of the list was

Michael Reckless

Generally I spell my name when I give it out over the phone as I not only hear with a southern accent, I speak with one as well, and often times people do not understand Ratcliff, no matter how many times I say it. And for whatever reason, no one can spell it properly.

We hee-hawed about this for a while. But the funny thing it, Michael Reckless does rear his head every once in a while. He’s a big part of chances I’ve taken and boundaries I’ve pushed.

Now, anyone who knows me knows that I am a law-abiding, God-fearing, loyal, hard-working, straight-forward guy. So much so that while in college, I was voted most trustworthy in my junior printmaking class and was responsible for collecting everyone’s money to buy paper at the art supply store. It would never have occurred to me to take the money, run to Mexico and carouse for a weekend.

But there are times when you can’t be straight as an arrow. You have to take a risk. Beg for forgiveness later. Here’s one such adventure:

Again, during my time at PULSE, I was working on a direct mail piece – an invitation to a customer event. My pal Steve O was helping me print and ship, but he was new to the vendor’s list and I was having issues with the postage. I needed to pay for it up front and would not be able to roll it into the total cost. Accounting was running slow (go figure) and I was going to miss my deadline. This was time-sensitive material – it had to go out in order to get customers’ butts in seats. What to do?

Michael Reckless rides again.

I bought the postage and figured I’d expense it afterwards. So I do it.

The next day, the VP of Marketing comes by, I show him the piece and tell him I have good news and bad news. He sits down.

The good news is that the piece shipped yesterday and they should start landing on customers’ desks later in the week. Awesome! “Great news” he proclaims. What’s the bad news?

I tell him I bought all the postage. Unapproved. But I made it happen. I explain the situation and tell him I felt compelled to take action, bend the rules a little so that we would meet our deadline. And promised I wouldn’t do it again. A slap on the hand was the worst I got and the event was a huge success.

I have the utmost respect for rules and authority, but there are times when you have to bend the rules a little. Now, I don’t want anyone to get in trouble or have people say “Michael Reckless told me it was okay…”. You have to be smart about it, and make absolutely certain you will come out smelling like rose on the other side.

It’s hard to argue with success, and sometimes it’s messy getting there.