In Market: Surrounded by the future

🕐 3 min read

There I was, surrounded by the future.

You guys that are worried about whether your fragile masculine ego could handle a female president in the form of Hillary Clinton, forget your concerns. You’ve already lost. It’s over. Go get some therapy for your bruised ego or better yet, cry into your Michael Jordan T-shirt as you lay on your Dallas Cowboy’s comforter.

I saw the future and you’re not in it. Sorry, but that’s the way it is.

Where did I see this vision? Where was I surrounded by 150 women who could each be president? On Wednesday, Feb. 17, I attended the Business for Breakfast: Women’s Leadership Summit put on by ourselves, Fort Worth Business, Plaid for Women and the Community Foundation of North Texas.

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The event, a Women’s Leadership Summit was titled: Replicating the Good Ole Boys Club: Leveraging your network for success.

It was a high-powered panel, moderated by Shivaun M. Palmer, co-founder of Plaid for Women. Panelists were:

• Lorraine M. Martin, deputy executive vice president, Mission Systems and Training at Lockheed Martin (until her recent promotion, she was in charge of Lockheed’s F-35 program)

• Elva Concha LeBlanc, president, Tarrant County College – Northwest Campus

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• Luddy Arias, senior manager, BNSF Railway

• Debbie Cooley, president, M-Pak Inc., a company she started in her garage that had $9 million in revenues last year.

They were, in a word, awesome. And I don’t know if it was because 90 percent of the attendees were women or if there was something in the coffee, but they let loose with some of the best advice and hard-won wisdom I’ve ever heard.

They weren’t there to male-bash, believe me. No real need to.

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Cooley said she began in an industrial field dominated by men, at least in 1974. “When I would make sales calls, someone would say, ‘Hey Bob, there’s a woman here to call on you,’” she noted. “I was paid significantly less. I positioned myself in power by the more dollars I sold, the more dollars I put in someone’s pocket, the more powerful I became.”

But she didn’t engage in the Monday-morning quarterbacking and male-bonding talk to get ahead.

“I didn’t even play [in the male-bonding talk] because the fish story just got bigger and bigger and I didn’t even play in that arena,” she said. “I just went out and sold more and beat them on the sales reports and was salesperson of the year and so forth.”

Thinking twice about the hours you spent talking about what a bad sport Cam Newton was after the Super Bowl? Cooley continued: “Now, I own a business and I sign the checks so I don’t have to look for power. I don’t mean that arrogantly, but it does stop with me.”

I also got to learn some new vocabulary: “Bubbified,” also from Cooley, discussing the industrial field in which she works. If it was in the Webster’s, it would be defined as “Adj. Meaning a profession or practice that is dominated by men who watch Duck Dynasty and spend 20 hours on the weekend watching football.”

Here it is in context: “I work in a very industrial and – for lack of a better word – ‘bubbified’ field,” she said. Some vendors don’t work well with women, so she has men call them. “They talk to them and they talk about fantasy football or whatever and take their orders.”

Now, you know. Get ready for the future.

Robert is a Fort Worth native and longtime editor of the Fort Worth Business Press. He is a former president of the local Society of Professional Journalists and was a freelancer for a variety of newspapers, weeklies and magazines, including American Way, BrandWeek and InformatonWeek. A graduate of TCU, Robert has held a variety of writing and editing positions at publications such as the Grand Prairie Daily News and InfoWorld. He is also a musician and playwright.

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