Eileen sipped her coffee in a disturbing display of calm. Bryant's tantrums had to be handled with kid gloves.
"Your attitude's killing the equilibrium in here," she said, setting the cup on the end table. "I already told you, we can't afford to sink any more money into risky ventures."
"It's different this time, Eileen. I've got a real feeling about this one. I just need a few thousand dollars to get started …"
Eileen crossed her slender legs at the ankles, brandishing exceptionally high heels. "You say it's only a few thousand dollars as if we had a cool million lying around. How about putting these little rinky-dink ideas on hold until a real job comes through. I mean, really—you don't know the first thing about lawn mowing."
"I never made fun of your dreams," said Bryant. "I've always supported you … we can make back twice the initial investment in a few months."
Eileen didn't flinch. "That's all you do. Dream. That's all you've ever done. What do we have to show for it? Debt. We need that money, Bryant. We could lose our life savings."
"All right, fine. We can't afford it. But there has to be some other way to get this business off the ground. I thought you'd be proud of me, maybe even help out."
Drinking in a long stream of coffee, Eileen looked away and said tersely, "Thought wrong." Why can't you just stay in your lane?
Eileen arrived at work early to review her advertising accounts and hone her pitch. Now that she had her marketing degree, she was next in line for a promotion to the board. Sheldon, the vice president in charge of hiring, had requested a meeting with her at 9:00 a.m. sharp.
"Eileen," said a voice on the intercom. "He's ready to see you now."
She grabbed her portfolio and strolled coolly into the corner office.
"As you know," Sheldon began, leaning forward in his black leather chair, "what we look for in this agency is freshness, raw talent, and an eye for new business."
"I believe I can provide that," Eileen interrupted. "If you look at my most successful accounts, you'll see —"
"I know all about your qualifications, Eileen. But this is a competitive field, and there are plenty of other employees just as prepared. That's why I'm giving top-tier candidates, including yourself, an opportunity to stand out."
"I'm sorry?" Eileen was unprepared. She shifted in her chair and rubbed one super-high black pump against the other.
"You'll have one week to develop a winning ad campaign for a startup or small business in the surrounding community. It's a win-win. It gives the client a chance at big-league exposure, and it shows the board who has the vision and leadership to take the helm."
Eileen's heart sank. Good thing Bryant wasn't here. He'd probably start whining about one of his gimmicks …
"I'll get right on it," she said.
One week later.
Eileen headed into Conference Room B, makeup impeccable, every jet black hair slicked into place. She sat through her colleagues' presentations, awaiting her turn. There was only one gentleman to follow, but he seemed inconsequential.
"In my search," she began, "I had the pleasure of meeting Matt. Ever since childhood, he envisioned operating his own barber shop. It would be high end, yet actively engaged in community service initiatives …"
She distributed Matt's business plan, ran the thirty-second ad and sat down, flashing a narrow smile. A cinch.
Craig, the last competitor, droned on about finding some sort of tree care consultancy.
Like that's going anywhere, Eileen thought.
"I didn't get it? But why? My presentation was hot, Sheldon, and you know it."
"Right! So what was the problem?"
"You didn't tell me your husband had a green consultancy in the works."
"A what? What are you talking about?"
"That's Bryant's business plan, Eileen. You didn't believe in his plan. You didn't think he was worth the investment. We do. You made the wrong call this time. It happens."
"But … I know how to develop ad campaigns, and—"
"That's enough," said Sheldon, turning to his PC. "Our clients need to know that we envision the best they have to offer. If you weren't willing to work with Bryant on something so full of potential, not to mention mutually beneficial, you're not prepared to close the kind of deals we're looking for in the future."
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