"God, this joint is a mess!" complains the one with $60 million in her pocket.
"Don't worry," replies the one with $20 million in hers, "My Dad was a janitor. I'll clean this place out in no time. First, we will raise everyone's wages to $22/hours; and when the establishment goes belly up, I'll represent them in bankruptcy hearings, blaming everything on the banks."
I am not an ophthalmologist. So, I cannot explain why people can't see for themselves. Nor am I interested enough in so-called human factors to start analyzing what makes people so confused. But I am a career financial executive with multiple academic degrees and 30 years experience in international business relations. As such, I can shine some light onto the monetary lining of certain political matters. (And yes, it's always about money!)
We are several months away from 2016 presidential face-off and the outcome of the Republican primary is still uncertain, but Hillary has already started her anti-Trump balls rolling. In March, she and another former Secretary of State, Madeleine Albright (he-Clinton's appointee), declared that U.S. allies abroad are "definitely worried" about the idea of Trump's potential presidency.
Here I feel obligated to remind the readers that Madeleine Albright keeps repeating on record that “there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other,” thus forcing upon you the idea of vagina sisterhood as the highest priority for women - more important than our survival, well-being, principles, and ideals. This is just to underscore the speakers' vantage point. But you've got to love the ambiguity of their statement worthy of true foreign-affairs foxes: Which allies are they talking about? All of them or just a few? A couple, or twenty, or none?
In the absence of clarity, we can only speculate, but I sure hope they are all worried. Because, unlike all those professional politicians in the running, Donald J. Trump is not going to play nice and be concerned about our allies' opinions of him personally or of America's policies. For Donald J. Trump, American interests come first. And it's about time for someone to care more about us than about all the beneficiaries of IMF, the World Bank, WHO, UN (with all its agencies, funds, and sub-funds), NATO, and any other foreign support system that gets most of its financing from our personal pockets via career global manipulators in Washington, D.C.
And let me tell you something about those possibly "worried" nations: Their governments may officially declare themselves US allies and they may act as friends of Hillary's, but people there hate Americans. Let me repeat that: they hate us with passion. Many writers, journalists, filmmakers, historians, social and political analysts, here and overseas, have touched on the issue of global anti-Americanism. Most of them, including our own liberals, explain and justify even the most unfair hostility towards us by entire nations and groups. A logical person should not even bother with all that emotional theoreticism. All you need is to cross the border.
Anyone who traveled abroad (even as close as Canada, let alone Europe and further) and actually interacted with random people - not polite business partners in their office environments or paid service providers on the beaten paths, but with people on the streets, in cafes, in bars - can tell you about their personal interface with unabashed anti-Americanism: the way people look at you, the things people mutter under their breath, small bits that slip out in conversations, and even open hostility. Let alone the burning of an American flag I've witnessed on Trafalgar Square the last time I was going to the National Gallery in London. The truth is, you don't even have to go outside of NYC: half of the taxi drivers here have BBC UK stations on. Oh my God! The shit that pours out of those radios!
Why do they hate us, though? A lot of official data sources (BBC LOVES those Americanophobia polls) concentrate on "US cultural influence," such as it is. However, that would be the easiest thing to resolve, actually: if you don't like American stuff, stop going to McDonald's and your movie theaters - if there is no demand, there will be no supply and no "influence". But no, the fucking Russia with their 81% of anti-American sentiment (second largest in the world after Jordan) leaves and breathes American cinema and TV. And China (71%), being the largest movie market in the world, is singlehandedly responsible for all the bombastic crap that comes out of Hollywood nowadays. So, obviously, the supposed "influence" is not the reason for hatred.
What is, then? Well, let's sing it together: It's all about money! The jealousy! The primal coveting that the Judeo-Christian canons have been trying so hard to eradicate! American wealth has always been a sore spot for our "friends" and enemies alike. And I am not talking about super-rich either. It's the small things: the fact that so many of us can afford more than our peers overseas; that at each level of income we have bigger houses, more technology, and more food; that many of us can travel to their countries, but they cannot afford to come here; that our gas and coffee is still cheaper; that our cereal boxes and cat-food cans are bigger; that we have dozens of ketchups and mustards in an average supermarket, etc., etc. It's really primitive: "They've got more and we hate it!"
Except that the reality is not some two-dimensional surface. It is constructed on the principle of cause and effect. There are fundamental reasons why we've got what we've got and they haven't. And if I had to narrow it down to the most defining one, I'd say that it's all about the interpretation of Equality.
In many countries our politicians call allies (and some even adore, e.g. Senator Sanders), Equality is misinterpreted as a socialistic notion of public uniformity, with everyone in the same lower middle-range of bare necessities, regardless of their personal merits - gifts, entrepreneurship, ambition, drive. Whether you are a lousy or an extraordinary worker, your opportunities are "EQUAL," because you granted your government the responsibility for redistribution of wealth. On the other hand, our Constitution treats Equality in terms of fairness. It is defined as an opportunity to try your hardest and make the most of your own abilities. And this difference makes their hatred of us unjustifiable.
Yes, we keep losing a grip and sliding off our own foundation due to the government's meddling, overpopulation, pervasive nepotism, illegal immigration, useless liberal education, etc. But the bedrock is there; the shreds of meritocracy can still be detected; and we can still do better than any of our foreign allies. So, why would we care about them?
Trump obviously doesn't, but Hillary, on the other hand, must care! Why? Yet again, money. She needs them and she works hard to get them wherever she can. Just in the past few months Clinton has held 13 foreign fundraisers, including in London, Durban (South Africa), Munich, and Mexico City. Yes, the capital of Mexico, which illegally exports their devastated citizens through the US border. Apparently, it is much cheaper for Mexico to pay off Democratic presidential candidates than to create jobs. Hmm, that's a thought! I wonder who we can bribe to get rid of hipsters?
But seriously, who do I trust more? Someone who is 100% financially and ideologically independent and is hell-bent on making our country prosperous again? Or someone on the take from pretty much everyone and with the greatest concern for her own political status? For me the answer is obvious. But then again, unlike most of Hillary's supporters, I'm not the kind of person who would base her political allegiance purely on gender either. Yes, I'm all about "girl power," but I am not biased in any way! It appears that Ms. Clinton and I have the same physical attributes in the same places. But so what? The body parts is not how I evaluate humans. What's in her mind, in her heart, and in her soul is far more important to me, and it doesn't seem that we have too much in common in those departments.
Well, as long as we are on the topic of feminism, let me share the information that really rubs me the wrong way: It is a matter of public record that Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation has accepted money from King of Saudi Arabia (at least $10 million); King of Morocco ($1 million), and King of Oman ($1 million). How about these feminist countries where, at the very least, women must hide their hair under a scarf? Do I need to remind my readers that it is illegal for women to drive in Saudi Arabia? Are all those vagina sisters of Hillary okay with this?
Coincidentally, the other day one of my attorneys was trying to convince me that you cannot blame fundraisers for unscrupulously raising funds wherever they can. Just because Hillary takes money from whoever, he said, it doesn't mean that she will reciprocate with any favors. This lawyer, being a Philadelphia man himself, was using Bill Cosby's example to illustrate his argument. Why should Temple University, for example, even consider returning the money donated to them by the legally entangled comedian? The money was given in good faith and there are no strings attached, he asserted.
Except, there are strings. Strings are always attached to money. Obviously, my attorney friend is being very naive. Let's follow his example. If such situation arose, do you think for a second that Temple University would refuse to accept one of Cosby's kids or grandkids as their student, regardless of their GPA's and SAT scores? It is a well-known fact that parents' donations ($200,000 - $5,000,000) buy kids' ways into exclusive prep schools and Ivy League universities. And if you think that a valuable donor cannot suggest a grant candidate to the Research Allocation Committee, you don't know how this world works.
And that's educational institutions - that's all they can give in return for the money. Imagine what can be requested from the President of the United States! And don't doubt it for a second: when the donors come knocking on the door, Hillary will have no choice but to open it. Because if you refuse, there will be no more fundraising in the future - not for her, nor for anybody else. These are not alms, these are advances on political favors with global impact. That's how the system works. And she is no Trump. She is a part of the machine and she will not rise against it.
But forget all that political bullshit! This whole issue of Trump-worried allies is far more personal than Hillary's donations. Let's look inside our wallets, at our bank accounts, retirement funds, our very own economic well being; and with that in mind, ask yourself, America, do you want to be on good terms with some broke-ass foreigners, or do you want to rattle everyone's cage by having once again more personal wealth than your counterparts anywhere in the world?
"All US military combat positions are being opened up to women, Defense Secretary Ash Carter announced Thursday.
The decision allows women to fill about 220,000 jobs that are now limited to men - including infantry, armor, reconnaissance and some special operations units.
'This means that as long as they qualify and meet the standards, women will now be able to contribute to our mission in ways they could not before. They'll be able to drive tanks, give orders, lead infantry soldiers into combat,' Carter said at a news conference Thursday.
'There will be no exceptions,' he added."
The Frustrated CFO Commentary:
Well, congratulations, ladies! Just as the World Economic Form has concluded that women would not catch up to men in their pay until 2133 (not a typo - 117 years from now, in some hypothetical "future"), the Pentagon has proudly declared that they are making more equal-pay jobs available for us - the ones that they themselves officially list among 8 most dangerous military jobs.
And this is why I can never align myself with feminist politics. Don't get me wrong, I greatly admire our contemporary Jeannes d'Arc (or d'Newark) and their desire to challenge themselves in combat. But I cannot possibly agree that it's good for the country when we put in harm's way the better, worthier half of our citizenry.
Olivia Pope: Twice as good as them to get a half of what they have.
Scandal, Season 3, Episode 1
The Frustrated CFO's Comment:
I'm not placing this excerpt into quotation marks. First of all, it's not an exact citation - on screen it gets all broken up, because the characters interrupt each other with anger, frustration, exasperation, and all other similar feelings; Eli is yelling, and Liv is sort of shudders and attempts to shy away - all those over-the-top dramatics and stuff. More importantly, though, it's not an original phrase. Shonda Rhimes, who actually penned this episode herself, is brilliantly entertaining, but she didn't come up with this maxim. Many African-American journalists, bloggers, and celebrities commented on its wide-spread popularity in their families and communities. Some even tried to date it - 70s, 50s...
The truth is, however, this concept doesn't belong exclusively to black people of the United States. In fact, everywhere around the world similar formulas are spoken in different languages to bright and promising children who will have to spend their lives jumping over the barriers raised in front of them for no other reason than their minority status: Kurds in Turkey, Chinese in Indonesia, Hui in China, Indians in Uganda, Rohingyas in Burma, Jews and Gypsies wherever they are, etc., etc., etc.
Furthermore, the applicability of this mandate goes way beyond race and ethnicity. The same mantra is adapted as a way of life by every marginalized overachiever even in our blessed land we call "Free Country:" women going into "men's" professions; immigrants with strong accents attempting to climb corporate ladders; members of LGBT community trying to get a job outside of the fashion and the entertainment industries; overweight and deformed individuals applying for any position; young talented people without connections trying to break into especially nepotistic fields - the list is long.
Growing up a Jewish girl in one of the most anti-Semitic of European countries, I was barred from many professional careers and life opportunities. And in those that were permissible, someone like me had one chance in a thousand. My personal slogan was even more maximal: I had to be the best just to get in. Was I able to completely shake off the disenfranchised complex after nearly three decades in America? Fat chance! For starters, I'm a woman...
Tags: Eli Pope, ethnic minority, minority groups, Olivia Pope, racial minority, Scandal, Shonda Rhimes, you have to be twice as good
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To me, the really sad thing about the delirious puppets featured in the Bad Blood video is their conviction that they are real. Even sadder: because they generate 8-figure annual earnings, have some pull in their closed-off entertainment realms, and are constantly followed by TMZ - they think that they are badass, that they represent the ultimate "Girl Power."
Well, the truth is they represent nothing but silliness, artifice, and utter emptiness. What are these little Girls are made of? Digitally enhanced voices, and unmemorable music with the life expectancy of butterflies, and silly meaningless lyrics, and even sillier antics, and fake emotions, and amateur face-making, and PR-boosted media frenzy, and airbrushed images, and a whole bunch of CGI. That what these little Girls are made of - not a single fresh thought, not a single lasting idea. I mean, they hit such level of dilettante mediocrity in that video, it's hard to soldier through it.
Even worse, they don't realize that they are objects AND instruments of manipulations by the men with real power.
You see, it serves the men's ambitions quite well for this type of Girls to be celebrated. The dominant gender wants their pedestrian, shallow, benign values to be imprinted onto general public. These girlish marionettes are very important -their individual contributions into the dumbing of the masses is incredible! But this video opus is something special! It amplifies the Girls' damaging effect: together they stay united - not as powerful human entities they think they are, but as a bunch of well-compensated Barbie Dolls on display. Of course, all girls want to be just like them! It's the Toys"R"Us effect!
And for the hetero-male audience? It's the same ages-old flesh peddling: hooker looks, non-existent clothing or skintight latex, seven-inch heels, and, as a bonus, the all-time favorite subject matter - the catfight.
The bitching kittens are not a threat to the gender disbalance at all. On the contrary, with every step they make and every sound they utter, they throw away everything women were able to gain so far in the hard-fought struggle for equality, for the right to be treated like humans rather than members of a particular gender.
That's why the male record executives and agents who HANDLE these Girls keep pushing their sissy, non-threatening projects so hard - the more of it is out there polluting every visible and audible media, the less there is room for something real and stirring!
If these girly bitches really cared about Female Power, they would go and hide their painted faces under their huge pillows in their oversized doll houses. Their withdrawal from the toolbox of mass manipulations would really benefit the women's fight for equality.
And you, Joseph Kahn, The Bride is coming for you. Now, that she is done with Bill, she can find time to teach you a lesson or two. Because, there is homage and there is cheap, uninspiring imitation. And you wouldn't know the difference even if it ruptured you with a katana.
Tags: Bad Blood, degradation of masses, degradation of music, gender equality, Joseph Kahn, Lena Dunham, mass media, Taylor Swift, women's equality
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If you took my absence from these pages during the past few months as an indication of my giving up on the blog, you were wrong. This activity is important to me. If nothing else, it lets me "talk" without being interrupted. It's just that the time slot in my overscheduled life, usually allotted to the writing of the blog posts, had to be temporarily relinquished to an extracurricular activity of preparing for a talk I was invited to give to a professional group called Women in International Trade.
Oh, no-no-no! I'm not talking about OWIT (the Organization of Women in International Trade), the big non-profit with global reach headquartered in Washington, DC. This group is much smaller - sponsored by a reputable New Jersey CPA firm, it is pretty much localized to the international-commerce entities and banks (like PNC) with offices and operations in that particular state. It's not like they don't welcome sisters-in-trade from everywhere, it's just how their network happened to develop: commercial clients of the said CPA firm, trade finance clients of the said bank, the local government bureau that deals with exports - all of them work and live in New Jersey.
And the reality is, there are a lot of big and small international businesses located in New Jersey. That's where you can have large office buildings that cost a fraction of what they would in Manhattan; there is plenty of open space for manufacturing and storage; there are Hudson ports that can berth oceanic freighters, etc., etc.
Truth be told, I would never know about these particular Women in International Trade if it weren't for one of the group's member who is also one of my former trade finance bankers and a friend. She is the one who mentioned me to the sponsoring CPA firm's Chief Growth Strategist - a force behind a lot of women initiatives in the Garden State.
They've been inviting me to participate in various women's and co-ed business events for some time. But I have to admit that when you live and work in Manhattan, the hassle of getting to an 8 o'clock breakfast meeting in New Jersey's Essex County makes such invitation very unattractive. I mean you need to drive or get a limo. You'll do it for business, of course, but for a semi-social gathering... that's a bit too much.
Of course, your attitude totally changes when the same professional group invites you to appear for them as a speaker. Vanity is a terrible sin - it demands constant massaging of one's ego. That's why some of us write books that bring meager royalty, give lectures without fees, etc. Plus, unlike the vast majority of people, I actually enjoy sharing my knowledge. And not for narcissistic, show-off reasons - I get a kick out of recognizing to myself, "I taught her that." So, naturally, I agreed.
After the initial invitation, I kicked a list of possible topics at the talk's organizer and we settled on two that we both agreed would be the most interesting to international-trade professionals: the position of trade finance in the value chain and KPIs specific to international commerce. I was advised of the reglament: 1.5 hours talk and 30 min Q&A.
"Well," I thought, "If you are going to talk shop with a group of working women for 90 minutes at 8 o'clock in the morning on a Wednesday, you'd better make it engaging and gratifying," and went to work. The rule of thumb is that 90 minutes of talking translates into about 15,000 words. And that's actually is not very short.
Of course, if you are the one who proposed the topic in the first place, you most likely know the subject at hand through and through; you have already developed original ideas and time-proven recommendations; your thoughts and opinions are well formulated. And that's great, but if you are not a professional lecturer who does this sort of things all the time, you still need to outline what you want to say; you have to construct your delivery in a coherent and logical way; you must prepare an exciting Power Point presentation that would prevent your audience from getting drowsy, and use cultural references to make your points memorable. Yeah! If you want to impress people, it's a lot of work. As I said, vanity - it costs you.
The third week of January came, and there I was, in New Jersey, shaking hands with the organizers and the attendees - by all appearances a group of successful and confident women, whose statuses make it okay to be out of the office in the morning hours for the sake of this event.
I proceeded with my presentation and it went well: they paid attention, they were interested, they nodded, they offered sensible and appropriate comments, they loved my visual tricks, and they sincerely laughed at my jokes. The time ran out. "Do you have any questions?" I asked. I was convinced that I've had a pretty good idea about the points of the talk that could've prompted further inquiries.
Imagine my surprise when the first comment/question I've received was, "You are obviously a strong woman. In your professional capacity, how do you handle male resistance to your authority or any other sorts of gender difficulties?" (Notice how the question was formulated: The woman had no doubt that I've encountered such obstacles ans she wanted to know how I dealt with them.)
Slightly taken aback by the sharp shift of gears I skipped a bit, but really - just a bit. I don't need to prepare for a gender equality discussion; I was born ready for it. So, I briefly described my experience: the unfair treatment; the skewed perception; the idiotic remarks; the preferences given to nitwits because "they have to support their families" (many of us have to do the same); which battles I pick; what I say and how I say it; when I bite my tongue and walk away; how I lie in wait and then find a way to teach them a lesson, etc., etc.
Oh my God! It was as if that question and my answer triggered a flood. Apparently these women found my interpretation of the international-trade topics quite clear. What they were confused about was why in 2015 we are still treated like second-class citizens.
At this point (the time was, obviously, running out), everyone talked fast. Many things were mentioned: "honeys" and "sweeties," unequal raises, unreasonable promotions, difficulty of holding back the tears, female professional "ceilings," the insulting male disbelief at a good-looking woman who is also smart. Amazingly, there were not a single person who didn't have something to add. Nobody said, "I have no idea what you all are talking about." You know why? Because there were no men in the room.
One woman in her 30s who was just recently appointed to a Marketing Director position (her warpath has just began), asked me whether I was born "this tough." Actually, I've thought about it before. What I told her was that we (i.e. the women who want to succeed) are not born tough. What we are born with is the ambition, the desire to be rewarded in accordance with our merits, the need to be treated as human beings regardless of our gender. But, while we claw our ways towards whatever peaks we want to achieve, we have to acquire toughness. We have to harden or they will eat us alive.
It is possible that I will never see most of the members of this group again, but when we were saying our goodbyes we felt like sisters. I taught these women a thing or two about trade finance and performance analytics, and, in return, I've learned a lesson of my own: There are no happy and satisfied women in international trade (and, I dare to extrapolate, in other business activities as well), because their ambitions and efforts are constantly curtailed on account of their gender, which is silly, irrelevant, anti-merit, and (call me an idealist) anti-American.
Tags: business women, gender discrimination, gender equality, international trade, performance analytics, professional women, women issues
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Ever since this company made into a couple of 2013 national lists of the fastest growing entities, we have been accosted by a slew of various business services offering their assistance and support: insurance brokers, real estate brokers, HR management providers, marketing consultants, etc., and most notably for me - bankers.
The troubles that befell the banking industry a few years back resulted in its consolidation. The competition among the diminished number of the key players in the field of institutional finance has stiffened. They are fighting for clients with proven records of steady profitability, growing equity, and assets with high market liquidity, which, of course, are not that easy to find in our "recovering" economy. Hence, they are after our business.
All the better for us: We are approaching the expiration date of the credit agreement with our current lender and are looking for a relationship that would be a more suitable match to the fast-growing company. So, I'm doing what I've done quite a few times throughout my career: I'm meeting with a lot of bankers - explaining the business, answering their drilling questions, providing them with extensive data, spinning the info in the most thrilling way.
While all this is going on, I cannot help but notice the increased percentage of women in the banking mix. Well, that shouldn't be surprising, actually: according to many statistical reviews, more than 50% of the corporate middle management in this country are presently females. I hear from our own sales staff that purchase managers of our customers' (industrial sector, by the way) are predominately highly technical women in their 30s.
Of course, as we climb further up the ladder, the numbers diminish: men dominate upper management to the extend of 70-80%, and only 10% of the C-level executives are women. Still, I used to be the only "skirt" in a room full of male execs and financiers. Now, there is a female contingent on the opposite side of the table in 3 out of 4 meetings. Hell, the founder/CEO of this company is a woman. Hence, our board of directors is 50% female (her and I) - we are the tough side of the directorship.
So, here I am in our conference room listening to two representatives from one of the 10 largest banks in the world, who are making a presentation of their proposal (aka a Term Sheet in business dealings). One of them is a diminutive woman of Korean origin in her late 50s - she is the boss, the North-East Regional Director, a big gun brought on to get the deal closer to the finish line. With her is one of her many subordinates - a young and ambitious man in his early 30s. If I end up choosing this bank, I will get him as my Relationship Manager (RM).
The menagerie is balanced by a man at my side - COO/owner/our CEO's whity husband. He has his full charm on: he cannot help it - he has a soft spot for Pacific-Asian women. Now he admiringly "complements" the banker-lady for being deceptively tough, i.e. looking pretty and soft, while being steely behind her eyes. I tense up: here goes seclusive male chauvinism, and you never know how a woman will react to it.
She handles it beautifully, though: "Well, you know how it is - brain and beauty combined are lethal." She turns to me: "Right?" Well, I wouldn't know - never got a chance to rely on no beauty, just my brain. But I don't say that. I just smile.
I wish my COO would do the same, but he somehow takes it as an invitation for further "admiring." "Yes, you are absolutely right. I couldn't put it better myself," and he embarks on telling the bankers how his wife, our CEO, is especially successful in sales because she is a woman who can speak "sweetly on the phone." He actually uses those words. "It used to take me," he says, "four phone calls before Dow Chemical would call me back. But she sweetly leaves a voice mail and they return her call within 5 minutes!"
He is absolutely overjoyed with pride. The Korean lady's mouth gets very thin and she looks at me again -we both know: this is how it is. The men will always find the way to treat us as if we were inferior, whether through insults or with "compliments."
I am disgusted, but I'm willing to dismiss this on the principle "forgive them, for they know not what they do." And right then he turns his head to me, looks straight into my eyes, and says, "You cannot repeat it outside of this room. L. always gets very upset when I say this, even though I mean it as a good thing."
Seriously, dude? You've been warned about it before? By your wife, who is also your boss? And what? You cannot help yourself? Of course, you cannot, because it's written into your genetic code, like a primal instinct. And you are too insecure to consciously fight it off! If it was me... But she is not me, in many ways she is very different. And that's why he'd financed this business for her.
I touch on the gender inequality among financial execs once in a while - an obligatory topic for a female CFO/author/blogger. I mean, everyone writes about it. Entire institutions and organizations compile sociological studies dealing with these issues. None of it seems to be creating any changing momentum, but hey, at least someone is willing to pay the researchers their salaries.
The interesting thing, though, that most of the time these topics (including my earlier posts) deal with the social, rather than practical, aspects of the phenomenon. People talk about advancement rates, compensation levels, female-to-male executives proportions, etc. In a very scientific way, we say: all things being equal (education, achievements, intelligence, etc.), women still don't get a fair shake. And nobody talks about the fact that, on a practical level, things are never equal between men and women, who strive for, or already achieved, top job positions.
First of all, women by nature are more conscientious and responsible than men. That is why we have higher percentage of female straight "A" students both in high schools and colleges (yet, there are more male valedictorians!). Secondly, women know only too well that they are at disadvantage due to the simple fact that they are not men. That makes them work ten times harder than any man in their position would. So, in truth they get rewarded at lower rates not for the equally good work, but for the job done much better.
But the biggest practical inequality occurs on the executive's home front. I remember having a friendly airplane conversation with my CEO, on our way to a meeting in Germany. At one point he said that I was the hardest working person he knew besides him - he honestly believed that he worked as hard as I did. Of course, he was talking about the job itself. Well, I thought that even at that I worked much harder (I did not take Friday's off during summers), but I chose to turn to more obvious facts of life.
I asked, " Who prepares your suit, shirt and tie for tomorrow every evening?" "My wife," he said. "We frequently work until 9 or 10 pm, is the dinner ready, when you come home?" "Yes." "Who writes checks? Who deals with repairmen? Who talks to teachers? Who buys groceries? Who takes kids to the doctors'?" "The wife" was the answer to all the questions. "Now, who do you think does all that in my home?"
He knew the answer, of course. So, every day I was working my executive job, let's say, just as hard as he did, plus his wife's job. And that's true for most of female CFOs, whether married or single, with or without children.
Look, how many unmarried male CFOs or Controllers you know? I don't know any. Even if their wives leave them, they get remarried very quickly - someone needs to take care of the home front.
On the other hand, a woman expected either to give up her personal life for the career, or hide it away, as if she does not have any. It is especially true for those female executives who work in small and midsize companies - the salaries are not large enough to afford a Mr. Mom of a husband. So, we are talking inequality cubed: the majority of women work harder, plus cover the home front (or give up life outside of the job), and still get paid and promoted on a much smaller scale.
Here is the funny part. At the end my boss asked, "How come you still read more than I do and go to the theater all the time?" "Because I don't sleep," I answered.
Last week Lucille Ball would have turned 100 years old. Not every celebrity achieves the level of popularity that justifies posthumous birthday announcements, and I am glad that it applies to this great comedienne, who entertained people for so many years. (As a side note, I must mention that it is a testimony to our electronic dependency that Google doodles have become integral parts of establishing people's immortality - I love them too, by the way.)
And I love Lucy, who also undeniably belongs in this blog as a brilliant businesswoman - one of the most powerful Hollywood women of all times.
The business success started with Desi's shrewd decision of setting up a television company Desilu (with Lucy's effigy right there in the logo), equally owned by the spouses and responsible for production of not just I Love Lucy, but also Star Trek, The Andy Griffith Show, Mission:Impossible, The Lucy Show, Our Miss Brooks, The Jack Benny Program, and many others. Only three years into its existence, the company was considered such a powerful television presence that it became a natural choice of many consumer product conglomerates, including Phillip Morris, for production of high quality TV advertisement.
Desilu was one of the first entertainment companies to recognize a power of merchandising - an entire line of I Love Lucy products, from pajamas and dolls to furniture sets, was a tremendous success. In 1954 alone they brought a net profits of $500,000 (over $4 million in today's money). After purchasing RKO's facilities, Desilu Productions has become the largest studio in Hollywood, running 33 sound stages (more than either MGM or Twentieth Century Fox). When Lucy bought Desi out in 1962, she became the first female head of a major studio.
I've seen different numbers estimating Lucy's worth at the time of her death in 1989, wildly ranging between $25 million and $65 billion. It does not really matter. One thing we can say for sure - she did well for herself.
Many biographers, TV historians, and ardent fans, have been arguing for decades, about whose contribution was most important in Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz's financial success. While Desi did present the company as a President, we may never know whose idea it was was to do this or that deal. Without a doubt, Lucy was always a bankable asset. Moreover, it is a known fact that the artistic merits and public appeal of such long-lived franchises as Star Trek and Mission: Impossible, that still continue spawning new feature movies, were evaluated and approved by her personally.
But the most remarkable lesson in Lucille Ball's shrewdness as a business woman comes from a very personal matter. Many enterprises fall apart on account of minor tiffs between unrelated partners. Lucy and Desi Arnaz stuck together through marital problems for a long time and got a divorce only after the final episode of Lucy-Desi Comedy Hour was filmed. Moreover, they managed their business separation in the most civilized and mutually-beneficial manner, remaining friends for the rest of their lives.
C. G. Jung: The Red Book (*****)