The other day I met an individual who knew me and my business. She was part owner of a company that I had done business with since I first started my career. We had lots to talk about and the conversation finally came to a point where I shared what was a pivotal moment in my career.
When I started in this industry I was basically an office manager. I ran the front end of the business. But as anyone who has done this can appreciate, it meant that I was involved in every project and was involved with all of the work. It was 1996 or 97 and I was in my early 20’s. I had been doing the work a while, but was still pretty inexperienced with the technical work and with some of the attitudes in the industry at the time.
One day I received a call from an irate client. He screamed at me. Up one side and down the other. I have no idea what the exact conversation was about, but I know it was something I had no control over. I was in tears. Ugly crying and hiding in the bathroom tears. Even though I knew it was an issue that was not my fault or something I could resolve, I took it personally. I let this individual reduce me to a puddle of tears, because he yelled at me.
I remember gathering my wits and making a call to the individual who was in charge of the issue. It was a government worker who was responsible for the work and I explained the situation. He was kind and respectful. So I started to cry again and explained what had happened. Very quickly he told me that he would take care of it. I went back to work.
Not long after I received a call. It was from the man who had yelled at me. He apologized, I accepted and moved on. What I found out, was that my government contact told him to apologize before he would be issued his paperwork that was needed.
For the past 20 years I have remembered this. I remembered how it felt to be treated badly, but what has stood out for me, was the person who stood up for me. The person who said it is not ok to treat a human being badly. It is not ok to yell and bully and make someone feel bad. Someone made me realize that I had value that I was worth being respected.
That day was a turning point in my career. After that I knew that I could do this. I could be in this industry and stand up to anyone. I had been given permission to have confidence and to be strong. Yes, someone stood up for me, but now I had the confidence and the voice to stand up for someone else.
This industry and the world in general is full of people who want to make others feel small. But 1 person can make a difference. The individual that gave me this gift may never know the impact that he made. Gary Pruden was a quiet, gentle man but the impact he had on both me and this industry was significant and I am so thankful that I am where I am now, because of his courage to stand up to one person on my behalf.
If you are looking for ways that you can be a strong role model for treating women well and as valued members of our society, Nicole Stamp at @cnn wrote an amazing article! Check it out!
I would love to hear your story.