I finally got around to reading the essay Laura Bennett wrote on her conversation with Kara Swisher. Kara talked about the bad bosses and the good bosses she had over the years. She laments that she was always confident and knew even at a young age that she was smarter than everyone else in the room and in the long run, she would surpass all the guys she was working for.
If you have ever met Kara, and I have, I am not surprised by any of this and I do hope that there are more women with this type of attitude who are coming up the ranks now. She saw the unfair treatment of others and called it out. She didn’t put up with bullshit. She stuck to her guns and what worked for her. That confidence put bad players back on their heels and unfortunately went elsewhere to pick on someone else to gratify their own ego and power. We are seeing many of those types of players find themselves in situations where the crowd, more voices like Kara, call out that behavior to the point where many of those once powerful men are finding themselves with their platform pulled out from underneath them. It is about time.
As women, we need to champion each other and applaud women, like Kara, who even at a young age of 21, who had her eye on leadership and success. Nothing was going to stop her and she has the swagger to pull it off.
I think about my generation and my peers today. Sometimes I think I am a 57-year-old living inside a 35-year-old head. That has its pros and cons. Many women at my age stopped working at one point to have children or sat back in their careers instead of putting their foot on the gas. I do believe because of technology that things are changing and we are finding that men also want to think about their careers differently. We can all be better balanced in life and the opportunities are beginning to exist for everyone based on what they want out of their careers regardless if you are a man or a woman. It is heading that way.
My first job at Macy’s I was placed as the cosmetic manager in Kings Plaza Brooklyn. I was a bull in a china shop, similar to Kara but in a completely different industry. I did not follow the rules. I was sassy, arrogant and expected myself to go places. In this job, I worked for a woman who oversaw a third of the store. I really was clueless about how to play politics and keep her informed. I just did what I did and I happened to do it extremely well. She came from a conservative Italian family and once she got pregnant, she never worked again. One day, she pulled me in the head of HR’s office, another woman who I had very little respect for, and sat me down. They told me that I was too aggressive to be in the retail industry. I was flabbergasted. I asked them what industry they think I should be in? What was it that they wanted me to do? They honestly gave me little to go with and when I left the office I knew what they were saying but thought that was how I was supposed to behave. I also knew that they did not know how to deal with a woman like me. If I was a man, there is no way in hell that conversation would have taken place.
Instead of sitting back, I walked directly into the office of the women who ran the store. She was one tough cookie, insanely smart, took no prisoners and went on to have an incredible career. I told her what the two women had told me, that I was too aggressive and wasn’t sure what to do with that information. She told me to soldier on and just keep them better informed on my day to day management of the business through memos but otherwise, she basically said, fuck them. Fast forward 30 years, I met this woman for a coffee and of all the people she had working for her those years, she remembered me. Made me realize that she saw something in me that others did not, and what is the worst is that other women tried to pull me down.
I wonder if I had been a man, what my career would have been like? I see the men around me who are my age, and their patriarchy is always there. Their bonds with other men are different than with women when it comes to talking business. Sometimes I find it irksome and others time I just let it side off my back. I am from a different generation. My hope is that of all the women events, women conversations, women investments and everything else I have done over the years will have made an impact so that more women can act like Kara Swisher did when she entered the workforce and not have any pushback but an acknowledgment that this woman is going to go far and we should support her, get behind her and help her get as far as she wants to get from every person in the room, particularly the women.