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LAce Posted Monday, May 19th, 2003
Behind Every Successful Woman…
Rebecca Brookshire

Thank you. Thank you. THANK YOU. Please, sit down! Thank you for your kind applause. I cannot tell you what an honor it is to be the first woman to receive the company’s “Man of the Year” award. We have so many exceptional people on our team that I really can’t tell you what a shock this is. Thank you so much!

I’d like to take a moment to thank some of the people that have helped me succeed here at Martin Snead. As one of the few women here, I can say that without some great mentor relationships – I wouldn't be standing here before you today.

First off, I have to thank my friend, Mike Spellman. Mike, where are you? Stand up, will you? Ah, there you are!

Mike—I want to thank you for some encouraging words you shared with me about working women a few years back. I didn’t realize that “it isn’t possible to make working women happy” until my first heart to heart chat with you, Mike. You see I was upset about a comment my supervisor had made during my last evaluation. Good old Jim Burns had asked me if I wanted to “move on to an executive level position or, say, have some kids and stay at my then lower level specialist position?” I was really upset and went to Mike to discuss the situation. Mike, your news that once a woman has a child she only gives 80% of what her male counterparts do was truly eye opening. I had no idea! Here I was, proud of my female colleagues who, I thought, were doing a great job balancing career and children when in reality, they were sucking this company dry. Take a look at Cindy Miller for example. Hi Cindy! You are right up here in front. Cindy—you were on the fast track before you got knocked up. Then you ballooned out six sizes and started leaving before 7 PM to pick up Baby Emily. I mean, when was your last promotion?- – 1983 – ha, ha! I look at you, and I think of Mike’s warning. If we had never had our chat, Mike, I might have lived with the fantasy that working mothers can successfully continue their careers and never had my tubes tied back at 23. I call that a close call!

And Bill Landy, well what can I say about this stellar salesman? Bill, if you don’t set the bar for workplace appropriateness, no one does. I will always remember the days we spent speaking to clients about the transfer from your coverage to mine. You were always quick with the clever “…but she sure is nicer to look at than me, eh…” That one will never get old, Bill! I also appreciate the respect you afforded me from the very beginning, like the time I met up with our clients at a restaurant and, when I apologized for being 5 minutes late you said, “Hey, no problemo, that’s a woman’s job—to make us wait around! Am I right guys??” What a great way to make me feel welcome right off the bat. Thanks!

Serena Brooks, are there words to convey my heartfelt thanks for all of your great advice on working women? No, there just are not. Serena is hiding in the back there – can you see her? Don’t be shy Serena, stand up!

I will never forget the discussion Serena and I had after I asked for her help in administering my name change after the divorce. Serena, your valid, albeit frank, advice that I would look like an “immature floozy” if co-workers and higher-ups knew I had ended my marriage was indeed helpful. You were right to point out that failed marriages reflect especially poorly on women. In requesting that name change, I might as well have hung up my hat and started changing diapers with Cindy up here! Who knows how my own actions may have destroyed my colleagues' perception of me?

So many people have helped me so much. I could stay up here thanking people forever but I won’t. I have just one more tidbit to share. I think you’ll enjoy it.

It was my fifth day at the company, and I was standing in the copy room waiting for a fax to come through while chatting with Frank and Bill in purchasing. Well, in walks Annette Parker. Annette is sitting at my table right here! Ah ha, Annette I bet you know just the story I’m thinking of!

Well, in walks Annette, and she suddenly stops and shrieks at me, “Oh my gosh, look at your legs honey!” I stared down at my legs wondering if my skirt was too short or if I had some kind of horrendous run in my panty hose. I looked back up at Annette for an explanation and she said, “You are wearing a skirt sugar!” I didn’t understand what was so amazing. Frank and Bill stood nodding in agreement and Frank stammered, “I didn’t want to say anything, but I was pretty shocked too!” Finally, Annette realized my confusion and explained, “Well, you haven’t worn a skirt all week, young lady! We all thought you had a wooden leg or something!” Then she added in her darling southern accent, “And look at ‘em! Your legs aren’t too bad at all.”

Well I tell you, if that wasn’t the best introduction to this company! Silly me didn’t realize that in my effort to be comfortable and businesslike, I had conveyed the message that I had a horrific and disgusting deformity on my legs that would render me repulsive. Fortunately, after my run in with Annette in the copy room, I realized that from now on, everyone would go on confidently assuming that I was ‘one ‘dem lesbians’ if I continued to sport pant suits. Thanks for the wake up call, Annette! The sales ladies at Nordstrom have you to thank too!

There are just so many people for whom I am grateful. But let's not forget the real reason we’re all here tonight--our clients. I wish all of my customers were here so that I could personally thank each of them for their business. So many of them challenged my competence upon our first meeting with questions like: “Does your mother know where you are young lady?” So many of our clients refused to shy away from inappropriate confrontation when they asked if I was one of those “liberal feminazi’s?” If I had a nickel for every time I felt ostracized by discussions about women’s breasts, hunting and fishing, fundamentalist politics, or reflections on the problems of my generation, well, I’d be a rich woman! And let me tell you, nothing makes me feel better about my life choices than being treated like a hooters waitress while I coddle a fat, ignorant jerk as he complains about our product!

It sure has been a wild ride, hasn’t it? Thank you again for this award. It means so much to me. I know you all want to dig right into your chocolate mousse so I’ll sit down now. But I’d like to close with this thought: Behind every successful woman; there are several men (and women) who are convinced that her success is a total sham.

Comments [post a comment]

Posted by Terrence Templeton on Tuesday, May 20th, 2003 at 8:48 AM
Pardon me, but you kick ass! I trust you've also heard that women can't be funny - guess you proved them wrong on that account, too.

Posted by Megan Gillespie [ ] on Thursday, May 22nd, 2003 at 10:50 PM
This is great. So true - and not an easy point to make -- wonderful work.

Posted by Salome Homeyer on Tuesday, May 10th, 2005 at 1:26 PM
Well written and timeless! Thanks.

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