I heard this story from a professor at the Helsinki School of Economics (HSE), as it was called then. He explained how, a few years ago, he was one of a number of speakers at a training course for a group of senior managers from a rather traditional Finnish corporation.Shortly before the course was due to take place, the professor from the HSE discovered that the speaker before him was to be a well known academic from a leading American business school. Not wanting to pass on a chance to see this US business guru in action, the professor arrived early at the offsite location where the training was taking place.
When he got to the training room, he saw the business guru standing in front of a dozen besuited Finnish managers, who were sitting quietly with their arms crossed and showing little emotion. The charasmatic guru was trying to engage with his audience, using all the tricks of his trade - big smiles, positive body language, jokes, etc. However, his audience remained motionless and apparently unmoved.
The guru was beginning to sweat... He obviously wasn't used to audiences not reacting to his performances. In an attempt to get some interaction going, he started asking individual managers for their opinion on the topics he was discussing. The Finnish managers answered politely, but succinctly and with little apparent enthusiasm.
Eventually, in a final and desperate bid to engage with his audience, the guru approached the company's CEO and asked him what he thought.
The Finnish CEO sighed audibly, paused for what seemed like an interminable amount of time and then said: "I pay, YOU talk!"