I don’t stew about the past, but I occasionally think about things I should or shouldn’t have said or done in dramatic situations.
I conceived and created a successful Executive Women’s Summit in 1999 and invited Fortune Magazine to co-sponsor the event in 2000. It was an even bigger success in year two. When Fortune’s promotions manager called me to a meeting after the joint event, she told me they decided to “take the summit in house” so they wouldn’t need me or my company any more. “We’ll give you a consulting fee this year,” she said.
I couldn’t believe my ears. I created the event and invited them to be my partner and they were excluding me (because they wanted all the profits for themselves.) I should have told this woman (who had nothing to do with the event in the first or second place): “The hell you will,” walked out of her office and gone right to the head of the company, but I stupidly didn’t. I thought, they’re bigger than I am, so what can I do? It was an uncharacteristic reaction.
To this day, Fortune still produces an annual women’s summit and probably makes lots of money on it. The promotions manager is long gone and so are most of the people who worked with me on the second event.
They were an evil, sneaky bunch.
I developed a great friendship and attachment with my long-time boss. Neither of us had especially joyous marriages, so we’d often go out for a drink and conversation after work. We also made numerous business trips together out of town and planned to go to Milan for a big trade show. A few weeks before we left, I told him I was attracted to him. He was nonplussed. I knew he was attracted to me, too, but there was no way he was going to act on his feelings. So I said no more.
When we were having a late-night dinner right after landing in Milan, he practically jumped across the table and asked how I could act like nothing happened, after I said what I said weeks before. I told him I realized he had no intention of getting involved with me so I didn’t push it.
Everything changed after that. Although I continued to work for him until he left the company, he began resenting me. I tried connecting with him many years later because he taught me a great deal about business and selling, and I always enjoyed his company, but it was a non-starter.
He’ll be 75 (we met when he was in his thirties). I hope he’s well. I should never have been so forward with him. Although I was his star employee, I could never erase my one big demerit.