She was glamorous

>I once worked for a woman who understood the meaning of fabulous. And she knew how to get it. Fabulous was her brand.

Her name was Karen, and she was a vice president of marketing in a small, growing, entrepreneurial, creative division of a big, entepreneurial company. I was her only employee when I joined her company and she expected fabulous things of me and the cool, interesting and like-minded people she hired. She also created an environment where being fabulous was possible.

She sent me out to pick the most powerful laptop – because I would be traveling a lot – and a big monitor, and all the important graphic design software. I was the only person I knew designing with a IBM Thinkpad and a 21-inch monitor!

She told me to visit the local art supply store with a company credit card to get inspired. She said I should attend trade shows outside my industry just to see other ideas.

She asked my help to put our favorite sayings on the wall, not little posters with mission statements. Large, colorful, sprawling visions, inspirational quotes.

Even after we grew up and into new surroundings, she insisted that I be part of the team that was outfitting and decorating the new office. Even though we used cubicles, we used cool, colorful, inviting cubicles, and set them at odd angles.

On a trip to Chicago, she made me eat French food overlooking Michigan Avenue. I had to wear one of those borrowed jackets because that was the rule in this restaurant. And she asked my opinion on the expensive suits and ties she bought for her husband at a men’s store on the Miracle Mile. When in Milan, she pointed out the Prada store and the other centers of fashion and design.

She expected – no, demanded – creativity, and knew that often meant asking forgiveness instead of permission.

When she spun off a company selling to the cosmetics industry, she wrote this as her vision statement: “Surround ourselves with smart, creative people. Inspire a driven, entrepreneurial spirit in each of us. Develop and exceed big, hairy, audacious goals. Have fun in all our endeavors and be glamorous.”

Karen died unexpectedly a few years ago, but I think of her often. I miss her and I miss her glamour.

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3 Responses to She was glamorous

  1. >What a wonderful tribute to a transformative leader!Transactional leadership models are always “a” part of the story: leader supplies reward for follower meeting performance expectation. But to have worked with a colleague or leader that changed you, challenged you and believed in you – is priceless.May Karen’s tribe increase!

  2. AsiaVoss says:

    >Great Post!It’s a great treasure to have a teacher or mentor (at work or school or home) who can make a permanent and lasting impresison on your life.Like you, I have 2 children, and I can only hope that I can do more than just ‘parent’ them…but to make a positive impact on their lives (as well as my employees’ lives) that makes them remember me fondly and often.

  3. >Just knowing that there are people like her out there makes me smile. I’m sorry to hear she left us.

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