Discover more from The Voice Inside My Head
Stimulus & Response
Years ago, when I was nuts, I bought a party rental company in the Hamptons. I sold it to the largest party rental company on planet earth, Classic Party Rentals, two years later. Other people's dirty dishes returning to me was not in my sweet spot. Part of the purchase deal was that I would move to Los Angeles for two years and run the marketing department nationally. VP of Marketing for a Fortune 500 size company. So me. I was allowed to continue to run Blue Shoe, but we cut back substantially during my two years there. I do marketing like I'm on a jet ski, and like many companies its size, Classic is the Titanic; they convene many a manager to discuss and think through every iceberg looming minutes away. It wasn't a fit.
The head of IT was not a friend. Blue Shoe had built more websites than he had visited, and I knew too much for his lame reasoning for why things couldn't get done, and often asked questions that didn't serve him well.
One fine day I was driving on the 405, which was also not a fit for me, talking on my cell phone with the windows down. A police officer pulled up next to me on the passenger side and our eyes met. I did what any of you would have done, I flicked the phone out the window and scratched my temple. He started laughing and drove on.
When I got to Global Headquarters, I went into the board room for a presentation from Robert IT VP. As was most often the case, I was the only woman in the room. Many a day in that boardroom I could have done a remake of the movie Twelve Angry Men and renamed it Twelve Angry Men and Me.
He droned on and on, and I started doing some emails on my laptop. In my defense, it was the corporate culture that management multi-tasked during those meetings. My goal when presenting was that no one would lap-top-leave, as I called it. Sometimes I even realized that goal, but looking back, I think mostly the over fifty, white men in the room just thought I was ridiculous.
I sent Robert IT the following email: 'Hey Robert, by mistake I threw my Classic phone out the window on the 405 this morning and need a replacement. Any chance I can get one today? Thanks!'
All of a sudden, everyone in the room is laughing. I look up and my email has popped up onto the screen of Robert's computer showing on the board room wall. He has enlarged it to fit the screen, stopped talking and is just looking at me.
I regrouped. Don't think that I crumbled. I sat up straight and recounted that I didn't want to be late for the meeting and so I made an executive decision to take the hit rather than get pulled over and be late. I really have no idea if that is what I said or not, but I remember what the president said. He said, 'Christine, this doesn't surprise any of us in this room. Your constant use of creativity in dealing with unexpected challenges was never more present than in this moment.' And then he started laughing. He was a big supporter of mine, which I think we can all agree was most likely what allowed me to stay the full two years.
While this is mostly just a fun anecdote, there are lessons to be learned here. Always.
No matter what, learn to laugh at yourself alongside others.
Never send emails that make you look like Elle Woods to those in business who do not have your back. Call them on your cell phone instead. If your cell phone isn't available for reasons like the above, stop in their office.
Phones cost more in today's world. Don't throw them out the window as a response. Always think through your responses without panicking. I go to Victor Frankl a lot these days; “Between the stimulus and response, there is a space. And in that space lies our freedom and power to choose our responses. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.” (Frankl, 1946)
And, have a great weekend.