Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Morning of Day 2

I am exhausted. Every time I would roll over I would think "I don't have a job" and suffer a moment of panic. Then I would tell myself not to worry and go back to sleep. After several thousand times I realized I needed to stop talking to myself. Oh god, now there were three of me; the ego, the watcher and the crazy person. Man, I need to calm down. I'm hoping this will subside soon. I know it's part of the grieving process -- denial with a just a tinge of 'pissed off'. Mostly anxiety. Anxiety about who will hire a 50 'ish' woman when they could get a baby MBA for the same amount and longer hire potential? Please be out there. I have mad skills for an old broad. I am filled up with life experiences and academia. With my childhood experiences alone I gained tremendous survival skills. I learned very early on how to size people up - you know 'friend or foe' and was quite good at by the age of 6. So began my people skills training. As I grew older I trusted those feelings and times when I went against them, I suffered the consequences. We'll talk about that later under the 'corporate bitches' heading later on down the road.

I have people skills. And I'm great with one-on-one, but I excel at crowds. I love the interaction between myself and the masses. How we relate to one another and how in a short time we can all come to some sort of consensus on any topic - most of the time. It's good to agree to disagree as well - that is leadership.

I'm a relationship builder. I love meeting all kinds of new people and finding out what motivates them and gets them going. I know I sound like a cheese ball, and I am a cheese ball. It's true, I dig other human beings. Wait. Let's specify a bit here - I dig 'most' other human beings. I choose not to deal with bullies and narrow-minded individuals. You know, like the manager who humiliates you and threatens you in many 'corporately cloaked and accepted' ways. Then the person who is on the receiving end of the bullying gets 'laid off'. Hmm. Again, wait for the 'corporate bitches' writing.

I digress - back to relationship building; One of the benefits of working for The Corporation was the travel. I loved it all. Getting to know new people, sharing ideas, getting them excited about volunteering in their communities and making a difference. That was the best part of my job. Besides, I'm travel size. I don't take up much space at all. Okay, so I'm a little wider now, whatever, At least I haven't gotten shorter. Being bumped up to first class every once in a while was fun, but I didn't need the leg room, it was wasted on me. I was able to travel internationally and that was magnificent. I have met incredible people who changed my sensibilities and my life. Thank you all. I love experiencing other cultures. Although I don't like to admit it, I don't always love the food, I have a bad stomach. I'm kind of a vanilla person. And what is wrong with that! I am colorful in many aspects of my life, food is not one of them. I need to focus, I keep going off in tangents.

Again, please keep in mind these experiences are with one corporation, aka The Corporation. There are those corporations out there who do a great job of taking care of their employees and treat them with respect and as their greatest asset, but there seems to be fewer and fewer of them now that the corporations seemingly have the upper hand. Which I am hoping will lead to more innovative small businesses popping up. Yea entrepreneurship! For those others of you out there without a job remember you are a genius! We still have plenty of time to start a business and change the world. What is the catch phrase '50 is the new 30'! Damn straight.

However, I still need a few more days to be off my game. But I believe everything I just wrote - sincerely. I'm just feeling a little beat up and my feelings are hurt and I thank you for letting me share all of this with you. My bragging is mostly to reassure myself I do have mad skills. I just need to see it in writing. I feel so beaten down I'm not sure what I'm good at anymore, and I'm tired. Tired of being so damn unappreciated, but even more disappointed in myself for seeking appreciation from a non-entity like The Corporation. It's not 'its' job to care about me. It's the leaders who should care and be thoughtful and visionary in the their leading. I'm not saying a leader should be all warm and fuzzy. I'm saying I want someone I can respect. Someone who can make the hard decisions and deliver them with compassion. Of course the business must survive and changes and reductions have to be made many times throughout the corporate life cycle. But where is the careful consideration? Looking and, most importantly, understanding what these employees do for you.

How many of you have seen, or had, the experience of The Corporation getting rid of an employee who was the only one who did a specific job, and then had to turn around and re-hire someone else who could do the job. Only after they needed this specific service and realized they let that employee go. 'Damn - more outsourcing. Why do we even need employees?'

I've learned three things about leaders as I've grown up in corporate america;
1. There is no tighter group anywhere. They always watch each others back and desperately want each other to succeed - in one way or another.
2. Absolute power corrupts absolutely - 'I can't possible live on a billion dollars a year, screw the peasants', and
3. Authority is not a substitute for leadership. A crappy leader is a crappy leader, just because you can tell someone what to do and they have to do it or lose their job, does not make you a leader.

Let's talk about leaders. I have had good leaders in my career. Tough leaders. Leaders I respected. That says a lot coming from me. I am very leery of leaders until I get to know them. Let's digress again a moment and I'll share with you my first favorite exec in my career. The sad news is I had already been in corporate america for years and this was my first true leader - in my opinion anyway.

My first leader at The Corporation was the previous CFO who brought the company public. I was hired as his exec assistant - which I loved because I had my fingers in everything and found it to be the greatest 'mini-operations manager' position ever. Besides I love being confidential. It's like taking some sort of sacred oath and I love being trusted. Anyway, I came to The Corporation two weeks before he was getting back from some extensive time off. He was moved from the CFO position to VP of 'Special Projects'. In layman's terms - "You are almost out of here. So look busy for awhile until you've had enough and then you can quit."

In the time before he arrived I had people coming to tell me what an ogre he was and he never gave a good performance review and blah and blah and blah. I thanked the messengers and told them I appreciated them looking out for me, especially since I was new, and I would take their information into consideration when I met him. I was taken aback and a little afraid of who in the hell this man might be. Did he eat small children? Well, I puffed all 4' 11'' of Irish me and thought 'bring it on'. Nonetheless, I was a little nervous about meeting him for the first time. When he did arrive we took a couple of days getting to know each other and figuring out how to work with each other. He told me his expectations and asked me if I had any questions. I replied, 'Not at the moment. Now I would like to tell you my expectations of you." He looked amused and irritated at the same time. "okay, go ahead." I told him I expected respect; I don't believe in management by humiliation and will not put up with it; I speak my mind; I give 110% but expect the same in return, if I do something wrong, don't wait until my performance review to dump it on me, let's deal with it in the moment; I'm not afraid to argue and I enjoy a good confrontation; I will always tell you the truth, even if you don't want to hear it, and I am 100% loyal and discerning if all these expectations are met.

He laughed and told me he had never had an admin have expectations of him. I replied 'it's time then."

About a week later I just couldn't keep my questions to myself and I went into his office and asked to speak to him. He was always great and would stop what he was doing and listen. Most execs don't do this, you are simply not important enough to be listened to. My exec was great. So, I asked, "Why do these people hate you? What did you do to them?" He laughed. Then he told me about his position as head of HR as well as being the CFO and there were individuals who were told they couldn't keep their titles unless they met certain requirements. Well they didn't and he demoted them. Ahhh sour grapes. I understand. I've done it too. Taking someones word for how awful a person is and then when you get to know that person you find out all the reasons they are the way they are and you end up really liking them. So I try to suspend judgement and replace it with actual knowledge of the person, but I'm not perfect yet. I seem to have the knack for being able to ask anyone anything and not get in trouble for it. Maybe it's because I'm truly interested in what they have to say. Who knows, maybe I'm magic.

We became a great team. When it came time for my performance review it was glowing and well thought out with a great plan of action to excel my career. We had a great mutual respect for one another. He of course left the company eventually and is now a very successful venture capitalist. Hey, I'm going to get a hold of him and give him my resume. See what happens when you tell the story. Stuff comes out you forgot about.

Okay this is enough writing for this morning. I have to take the dog for a walk and release some stress. The good news is I don't have to drive 60.3 miles each way, to work every day. But I did it for 15 years. What a corporate wonk I am. But I loved my job. Maybe I'll feel inspired to write again later. I'm going to call RightChoice regarding help with my resume. I'm sure they will put more on it than 'she did a lot of stuff'. Somehow I don't think that will get me the job I want. Not that I discount 'stuff'.

To summarize, I have People Skills and Relationship Building skills. I hope I find more later to share. Of course it will be wrapped in a story. I'm Irish for goodness sake. Life is about the story of each of us.

We'll talk more later about other great leaders I have served under and of course the highly anticipated corporate bitches writings.

Slainte. (means cheers in Irish)



  1. I cannot wait for the corporate bitches editions. I love this blog. It's incredibly honest... and (as you well know), it is this corruption that spurred me to leave The Corporation as well.

    I am angry for you, heartbroken for you, and I'm thinking about you. In the end, you have made so many positive changes for so many people that it will be paid forward, and you will get the respect (and superfantastic position!!) you so greatly deserve. In the meantime, it just sucks. You were taken advantage of and treated so poorly, and you deserve the time to grieve and be hurt over that. You really are an amazing person, and you had me in awe of you every single day.


  2. I am so glad you are doing this. I'm considering doing the same. I'd like to think "the corporation" is a unique version of Satan's domain, but sadly, I think the reality is that it is not.

    I've been a pollyanna for as long as I can remember. I'm disappointed. Though I'm not going to allow the corporation to strip me of my positive outlook. They don't own me, though some particular "theys" think they did. No, I was on a month to month lease. So they terminated the contract. Their loss.

    At any rate, I'm feeling better than I have for as long as I can remember. Ha. They think they had the last word. They'll be surprised. And they'll be surprised to learn that they gave me a gift.

  3. Definately call RightChoice - the resulting resume I got was so much better than what I could have come up with.

  4. Thank you wonderful people for your comments. I will forge ahead.