A continuation of my previous post, which I meant to be more summary that narrative, but it’s impossible not to write this out.
Monday morning I put on a Sailor Moon t-shirt for extra positive lady power and walked into his office. The HR director followed and the discussion began, although his way of starting it was eyeroll-worthy: A big and friendly what’s up? as though we weren’t discussing something very important. It was a staple attitude of this office that I had grown increasingly tired of as time went on.
Well, I read your email and I wanted to learn more about what you meant by that ‘bigger picture’ and what you see for me.” I knew all I had to do was get him talking and the meeting would go on as long as possible. That was my plan: hear the full spiel, his sales pitch, and politely reject it. That was all. It was already enough for me to know that having this meeting at all was a move of desperation. No self-respecting CEO should plead with an employee to stay at their company. In my opinion, at least.
His goal, clearly, was to make me doubt my decision to leave. He explained how I was in an amazing position for someone of my age because the company was just about to hit its stride and finally be profitable in 2020 (ha!) and start to change the industry. Someone of my position in a small company that was about to blow up like that would reap the benefits of its success in the end. He then, again, reiterated that his firing of my manager wasn’t personal.
When he was finished, I acknowledged I was familiar with the proposed future of the company (because he had been saying it for the past year). I also reassured him that I had definitely not made such an important life choice based on one solitary event related to a friend, and went on to air my grievances with how things were run. I gave him examples of where my marketing department was disrespected, and he dismissed these as misunderstandings or as miscommunications that were at the fault of my ex-manager. He did not acknowledge any of the examples I brought up where he himself was a rude asshole to myself, my team, or others in front of me.
There was no point in arguing, so the next part I brought up with was my dissatisfaction in my position. Suddenly I had been transitioned, without much warning at all, into a role where I was doing more event coordination than actual marketing. It wasn’t helping my career or professional growth. I felt stuck and, especially without my manager who fought for me, lost.
The CEO gave me one of his trademark charming smiles. I could actually see the triumph dawn on his face where he looked like he had me cornered.
“Alanna, we have a marketing budget of 1.2 million dollars. 750,000 of that is tradeshows,” he explained, as if I did not already know this. “You are in charge of most of our Marketing budget, our events that are outward facing to our customers. You work with 750,000 dollars of marketing money! I think I’ve said enough.”
No. No you haven’t. Because all I do is fill out forms. I was so irritated behind that plastic smile. He had no idea what I did. Absolutely none.
It was at this point the HR Director broke in, trying to keep us on the right track.
“I believe what she wants to know is that her career goals want to align more towards global marketing, which is what she was doing before. Do we have plans in the future to provide her with more opportunities for that?”
The CEO looked confused for a moment before agreeing, but not making any solid promises or details. In fact, the conversation seemed to start going in circles again, so at the next pause I cleared my throat and crossed one leg over the other. I was finished and he picked up on it.
“Did I help clarify things for you?” He asked now.
“You did, thank you,” I nodded again, smiled again with a honeyed tone. “…But I am going to stick with my decision and seek opportunities elsewhere.”
There was a pause. A bit impatient and with a visible twitch, he checked his watch.
“Tell you what, Alanna. It is now 10 o’clock. I’ll give you until noon to change your mind.”
I almost laughed. It would’ve been a bark of a laugh. An are you fucking kidding me? Laugh. Instead I chuckled and nodded. “All right, thank you.”
Then I returned to my desk, biting my lips to keep the smirk off of them. I continued to work on various last-minute wrap-up things until the CEO approached me with an awkward chuckle at 11:58PM.
“Alanna. It’s almost noon.”
I did laugh then, but reigned it back in to keep from being an outright salty guffaw. “Yes. I know.”
He hummed and nodded. “—But I clarified everything for you, right?”
“Yes, yes you did. Thank you.”
He finally left me alone and I felt like David conquering Goliath. In the long run, I knew it wouldn’t make a difference (and it hasn’t). There was no uprising in the company’s future, no earth-shattering revelations, no removals from power… but that doesn’t matter to me. I put a knick in the armor of someone who assumed themselves untouchable. A small victory is still a victory nonetheless.
And today I lay here at 6AM reflecting on where I am now, just a few months later: mentally and emotionally more healthy, with stronger coping mechanisms for my anxiety, a larger circle of quality friends, a career that fits me better than anything I’ve had before and provides a better work-life balance… and the proud co-Mother of a very sweet, if not aggressively playful cat.
The latter half of 2017 was emotionally traumatizing for a variety of reasons, but I persisted and overcame the obstacles and people who stood in my way and left tremors in my wake. For those of you who don’t know what I’m referencing in the title, here’s a compilation that sums up my attitude perfectly: