Creating a Better World
Alien. Unwelcoming. A constant battle that saps your energy and spirit.
This is the way many women still describe the experience of trying to reach the executive suites of the corporate world. It’s also the reason many who finally make it to a corner office then choose to leave their coveted position to shape their own destinies by striking out on their own as consultants or entrepreneurs.
The article was the first in a series of accolades, honors and appointments I’ve received over the years, and about which I feel both humbled and proud. Everyone, including myself, appreciates being recognized for his or her efforts. In fact, I believe recognizing and respecting the efforts of others is an important element of mentoring and can be an important factor to your own success.
That said, the self-satisfaction I have enjoyed while pursuing and achieving my goals is equal to knowing I’ve done my best along the way to help other women succeed.
The Last Straw
When made my very public exit from Corporate America, I was an executive vice president and general manager of a major medical communications firm – part of the OMNICOM group of agencies – in downtown Chicago.
Like many women who achieve high-level positions in successful organizations, I had faced diverse forms of subtle discrimination during the course of my career – the kind of discrimination that, sadly, still leaves corporate boardrooms dominated by men.
On the surface, it can be anything from off-color jokes at executive
meetings; offhand comments at business presentations, and demeaning
skits at office parties, to the way companies entertain clients.
However innocuous this kind of behavior may seem, its cumulative impact
on a woman’s career, not to mention her self-confidence, can be
For me, the straw that broke the camel’s back came on a September day in 1993 when group of senior male executives referred to my staff of predominantly professional women as “UPPITY.”
I went home that night haunted by the painful realization that despite all I had achieved during my thirteen years with the company, I was still viewed in many ways as the resident feminist, someone to be tolerated rather than respected.
Despite a wonderful and supportive staff of talented and dedicated women and men, my “dream job” had slowly turned into a daily nightmare. I was tired of climbing a hill made slippery by the thick ice of a hidden corporate culture. And I decided that I had kept quiet long enough.
My first book, Personal Publicity Planner: A Guide to Marketing YOU, which is available here as well as from Brittany Publications, Ltd, was designed to give other women the benefit of my own corporate experiences. I learned late in the game that next to personal and professional satisfaction, visibility and community involvement are the hallmarks of success.
Yes, you can get a corner office if you play the game the right way, earn a handsome salary, and manage large budgets and lots of people. But to continue to climb the ladder of success, and to have a real impact on how business is conducted – you need visibility. You need to network effectively. You need to keep yourself and your team psyched for success. Most importantly, you need to give something back to society; you need to help others.
My visibility and community service came AFTER I left my hard-won corner office. I wanted to share what I learned with other women, and help them achieve their dreams of success. I wanted to make difference.
From1994-1998 I lived in Arizona. It was there that I joined the local
affiliate of a worldwide women’s service and advocacy organization, and
where I worked with a number of amazing women representing a wide scope
That’s when the genesis for my second book, Top Cops: Profiles of Women in Command, took root. Several of the members were law enforcement officers, one of them the Chief Deputy and Chief Operation Officer for the Maricopa County Sheriffs Office in Phoenix.
After doing some research, holding a focus group in Scottsdale, Arizona, and attending the national meetings of several women’s policing organizations – I started interviewing women who had achieved command positions.
Overwhelmingly, each of them wanted to share her experiences with others. They wished to mentor and inspire the thousands of women around the country who wanted to serve their communities as law enforcement officers — to let them know that success was possible. I knew I could help these amazing women achieve that shared goal.
At the moment, I have several new editorial projects on tap that I also hope will inspire other women in all professions and endeavors to reach for their dreams.
It’s writing articles and books, and publishing books written by others that make a difference in people’s lives. It’s creating products that express my own creativity and that also makes people smile. It’s spending more time with my loving boyfriend of 30 years, and having a circle of friends both near and far – and knowing we are there for each other.
My world is no longer an alien, unwelcoming battleground. I have created my own world – one that is nurturing and creative. A world that has limitless possibilities.
Who would have thought that the woman in the corner office, the one wearing the St. John’s suit and Ferragamo shoes, would go on an emotional journey that led to an online retail business selling her own handcrafted jewelry and other beaded products?
I believe that we all have an inner spirit that tells us when it’s time for change. Sometimes that change goes through many transitions, until we get it right. Sometimes it takes months to evolve, sometimes years. The most important thing to remember is that little voice inside of us must be celebrated and acted upon only when each of us is truly ready to take that leap of faith.