August 13, 2004

simple yet elegant

It seemed like a simple assignment. Nothing ever is. Reshape an 18yr old company with new branding, marketing strategies and communications. The first thing desperately needed is a compelling and polished corporate pitch. The CEO, after all, wants to give it on Monday to a prospective client executive.

So, I immerse myself in all the recent iterations of presentations they've given. Sponge their business model and processes. Interview individuals who will give this presentation to gather their input. Draw out the pictures they are trying to paint. Unravel what has "sold" clients on their company. Lie awake at night with 48 hours to come up with a catchy acronym to trademark their unique business process. (Gawd, all those days at Dell coming up with acronyms sure come in handy).

Then it's there. The content zips and zings. Should make a prospect salivate and ask where to sign. Then the powerpoint maven kicks in. Custom animations and transitions that deliver the content in a way that keeps the listener captivated (hope so) on the point the presenter is making. Then scour the internet for the least expensive, best quality royalty-free photography for that subliminal punch.

I declared it good and went to the CEO's office to let him review. His body language as I drove the slide show said it was good, very good. Then he called everybody within earshot in. I haven't seen people huddle around a powerpoint slide show like this in years. A few yelps later, it was declared very, very good.

As I returned to his office this morning with the color, spiral bound accompanying handouts for his trip, he stood up to greet me. "No one has ever walked into my company and made such an impact in just a few days. My team loves you." He reached into his wallet and pulled out a $100 bill, "Take your husband out this evening on me".

I had forgotten the impact of this simple thing. The simple thing wasn't the presentation. It was engaging the team in its creation. Caring about making them look great. Giving them something that reflected their input and showed off their culture, their passion, and their services. Simple yet elegant. It was a very, very good day.

August 12, 2004

mrs kitty

"Hello Mrs Kitty" she called out as she whizzed by on her bicycle followed by the summer tribe. I've learned this is the affectionate nickname they've given me because I like cats as much as they do. Summer is a time for kids to race on bicycles, draw chalk pictures on sidewalks and flag down the ice cream truck for a popsicle.

And so, having my own business makes me a participant in theirs. As I come and go from this home office, I am cheerily greeted by these tiny neighbors. How come you are all dressed up? See my new haircut? I just got back from swimming, where did you go? I wouldn't trade a single one of these moments for those glazed overloaded looks from a neighboring cubicle occupant trying to slog through unread 48 emails for anything. I rather enjoy dodging myriads of crab apples dotting the sidewalk much more than dodging another meeting invite on another overbooked day at the corporate mill of grind.

Mrs. Kitty wouldn't trade places for all the crab apples in the world.

August 10, 2004

tilting at windmills

I'm ready now. That is my answer to the question I am most asked this past week. Why didn't you start your own business sooner? As my friends, husband and family watch my joy outpaced only by the growth of customers and engagements, they chide me (as they have so freely for years). I didn't get smarter or wiser or more confident. So what's the deal?

I'm ready now. I obliterated my farcical ceiling. That virtual acoustical tiled monstrosity that prevented me from taking the leap up out of reporting into somebody else beside me. Vacated that belief that I might not be able to cope with generating my own infrastructure, business development, identity and business plan.

Perhaps to be too practical is madness. To surrender dreams—this may be madness... and maddest of all, to see life as it is and not as it should be. -- Don Quixote, author Miguel Cervantes

In the cookie cutter of meglorporate job classifications and stratification, I was finally ready to ascribe my future to the success or failure of my own efforts, my own identity.

And this new mold I am forging may not have a big safety net but it definitely doesn't come with a ceiling.