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Picture this: The scene, circa mid 1990’s, Donna Karan suit, Joan + David loafers. Hair: executive blonde with a Jennifer Aniston, sort-of-blowout. I once negotiated my salary with a C.E.O. on a paper napkin… priceless.
6 a.m., toxic aftershave, coma-induced flight to JFK. Swank digs in Manhattan at the Soho Grand Hotel (or) flight to Philly, town car to Wilmington, luscious suite at the Hotel DuPont. Week long, brand strategy marketing meetings with global directors and their teams. I organized + conducted futuristic “think tanks”. Not to mention the three hour, mind numbing “get it done”, conference calls that doubled as house cleaning sessions - thanks to the home office. Add a high octane diet coke chugging, micro-managing boss, who lived on no sleep – with a new born baby no less, you get the picture. Clawing and scraping for the rush of accolades + kudos… pure ego.
I got great at pushing paper, generating quantitative and qualitative reports that more than likely, no one ever read. I got good at justifying my corporate existence. Email after email, meeting after meeting. Five years later, I jumped ship, just two years before the S.S. Corporate Titanic sank. The positions that were created were dissolved. Non-sustaining business practices as usual: old school ideologies in this case, did not stand the test of time.
That said, we do, what we gotta do. I knew this job would not last forever or at least, I wouldn’t. I was certain that I'd learn alot about what I did or didn’t like within the confines in which I'd thrive. So I sucked it up, and milked that job like it was the career from heaven above; treating it like the Harvard Business School education that I never had. I was exposed to an evironment of working with top executives, professional athletes, inventors and thought leaders for Fortune 500 companies. The hours ranged from 60 to 80 hours a week, (I had a toddler), and I was paid handsomely for my absence.
The big upside: I learned a lot about myself in that; unless I could see the direct value correlate to the end result it meant nothing to me, utterly and thoroughly, soul-less. It taught me to think longer range, bigger picture, grow thicker skin and shoot straight from the hip.
To repurpose your blood + sweat, knowing at the end of the day, that lessons are learned, you’ll remain unscathed and all the approval you sought or thought you sorely needed, was always or never there; that in itself, got me to here. And for that, I’m eternally grateful.