I was going through old work files to purge them. This effort triggered some memories from the early stages of my career that I have not purged…Some work memories make me smile. Some make me wince. I think I had good relationships with most people I worked with despite having an INTJ work personality. One of my friends in giving me a recommendation noted to a prospective employer that I “did not suffer fools gladly.” She was dead on.
I’ve experienced a number of bad bosses. These were men (and women) whose ambition, greed and often stupidity made it tough to work with them. My worst boss came very early in my career. After college, I was part of a management trainee program for a financial company. I was doing very well after being there for 1 1/2 years. I got very good reviews from a number of managers and supervisors. But that would change. A new manager was coming in to the branch I was working. He came in with a reputation as being rude to both employees and customers. I chose to be optimistic. All my previous managers were very happy with my job performance. On his first day in our branch, I came in early. He was there with our office manager. He was about 10 years older than me and much shorter. I came up after they finished talking and introduced myself while also extending my hand in welcome. He stared at my outstretched hand, ignored my greeting, spun and walked away. That awkward moment turned out to be the high point of our business relationship. He wound up either firing or having all the management trainees in the office quit. He terrorized the female clerks in the branch with his yelling and caustic remarks. I was the lone survivor. At 23, I wasn’t sure how to handle conflicts. I largely ignored his sarcastic remarks towards me until the one day I couldn’t. One morning, he yelled something at me across the lobby floor but I couldn’t quite hear it as a print terminal was spitting out some paperwork. However he added an epitaph to his yelling he thought I would not hear. I saw the women close to him stiffen up. They hoped I did not hear it. I smiled, put down the files I had in my hand, walked over to where he was standing and opened the branch door, “Let’s go outside and you can repeat to me what you said.” He turned red and glared at me. I called his bluff. Wisely he chose not to go outside. Wisely I found another job fairly quickly…
While I was in college, I worked for a retail store named S. Kleins’s. One of the things I enjoyed to do was to write promotions and sales ads and announce them over the store intercom. I think I just loved to hear the sound of my own voice. But I also was very clever with the ads at times and got shoppers interested in the sales I promoted. Store Manager loved it and gave me free reign to do them.
I also “fixed” the Miss S. Klein’s contest so that a young woman I was interesting in would win. She got the sash. But I did not get the girl. I also earned the enmity of the HR Director who wanted her daughter, who worked in the Records Department, to win. This would not be the last time I pissed someone off in HR.
My favorite corporate job was managing the Purchasing Department for a bank. I was basically brought in to improve the poor internal audit ratings and reduce the expenditures for technology, office supplies, forms and other supplies. I also merged two operations and improved efficiencies. I accomplished those goals fairly quickly and was pretty much left alone in how I did my job. One of the benefits of doing my job was meeting with various sales representatives. These sales representatives tended to be female, young, stylishly dressed and very pretty. The parade of these young women through the corridors of the bank to my office made me the envy of my male counterparts. One of my friends had asked me to set up a date with one of the women. The best I could do was set up an appointment so he could discuss copier needs for his area. I made it a rule not to accept lunch invitations or socialize after work with anyone so no one could accuse me of being unduly influenced.
When I was offered a position in Marketing and leaving the Purchasing Department, I did agree to have lunch with one of the sales reps who I did business with. I enjoyed conversations with her. She was a bit flirtatious but it was the 1980’s and I was often amused. At the lunch, she wanted to show me pictures of her recent trip to one of the islands. I leafed through the pictures which were mostly beach scenes and her in a bathing suit. Until I reached one picture ,,, she was topless on the beach by a bar holding a drink. I reddened. She noticed my reaction and inquired with a smile, “What do you think?” I slowly handed the pictures back and smiled, “Wow those were big…the drinks I meant.”
There are those people in life who cannot hold a job. And then there are people like me where a job can’t hold them. I got bored easily. I could never perform a job well where I did the same things every day. I was very poor, especially in my early career, of promoting myself. I felt that doing a great job was sufficient for moving ahead and getting appropriately compensated. Unfortunately I found out that many of my managers took credit for things I accomplished. I’ve given this piece of advice to those who are working, “to promote yourself within a company, promote yourself well outside it. Create your own personal brand.”
Picture above is me with Tere Hoyt Chattin. I worked with some very smart and great people. Tere is at the top of my list.