Saturday, July 15, 2006

Start Your Engines - Entry #1

**Start Your Engines is an ongoing business fable. More entries will appear periodically on The Some Assembly Required Blog. Stay tuned.

Kicking The Tires

Margo Monteverdi pulled back the car cover on her newly re-painted 1966 Ford Mustang. She smiled. The sun shimmered on bright red paint. The car appeared as fresh as she imagined it did when it first rolled of the assembly line in Michigan four decades earlier. The car was born the same year as Margo, and her whole life she had always wanted to own one. On the day of her "Big 4-0", her husband, Michael, surprised her with a slightly rusty version of that lifelong dream.

Nine months later the car was drivable. The leaky windows had been resealed and the black vinyl covering on the roof had been replaced. The seats, with the stamped of wild mustangs running free had repaired and the mechanic had completed installing the new engine. The paint was the last step in the rebirth.

Margo was experiencing somewhat of a rebirth herself. After many years of trying to launch a successful career, she was starting to see the achievement she always desired. Yet she still did not trust herself. Margo had never liked surprises, and she often felt that she needed as much work as her old car before she could navigate the unknown future.

Our heroine did not go to a top tier college. Her youth was coupled with some unfortunate choices and a whole lot of fun. The five and a half years she spent at Eastern Texas State University had not been all bad. During her tenure there the institution had been rated the number one party school in the country. She knew her dad was secretly proud when she was quoted in USA Today describing how she and her sorority sisters had contributed to the university's reputation. Besides, it was at school that she had met Michael Monteverdi, although it was a few years before she agreed to marry him.

After college she held a series entry jobs to help make ends meet while Michael completed law school at Southern Methodist University. She was twenty-five years old when she discovered that she had a knack for sales, and that a career in sales had unlimited financial possibilities. She spent three years successfully selling telephone systems before the birth of her twins. Michael's law career was in full swing, and the demands of Kyle and Katlin were too much for her to balance. Together they decided that Margo would be a full-time mom until the children were older.

Ten years later she decided to return to work. A decade out of the work force left her feeling insecure. Margo had failed to keep up in touch with her most of her former co-workers and clients. The company she had worked for had gone out of business and her boss had moved to Seattle. She was back at the starting line.

Margo had not known where to begin to look for a job. The telecommunications industry had changed and she had not kept up with the technological advances into wireless. She was also sure she was not interested in phone business. Most of what she had done for many years had centered around the lives of her twins, who now seemed much less in need of mom's attention. She combed the Sunday paper classified ads and found nothing that was worthwhile. Posting her resume on brought no satisfaction and even less results.

By this time Michael had become a partner in one of the city's largest corporate firms. He suggested that Margo speak to the firm's Director of Marketing, Richard Ryan. Michael had always felt Richard had a firm grasp on what was happening in the Dallas business community and he might help her identify interesting companies and industries. Additionally, through his job at the firm Richard had developed an extensive network of professional contacts throughout Texas.

She was resistant to asking someone at Michael's law firm for assistance. She did not feel comfortable reaching out to someone she had only met a the annual holiday party. It also made her uncomfortable with other in their social circle knowing that she was having trouble with her job search. But Michael said, "He will be happy to help. I wrote a recommendation for his brother's law school application to SMU last year. This is what networking is about. Not everyone will have a way to be of assistance, but if you are too shy to reach out and will have no way of knowing. People like to help other people."

Margo had scheduled lunch with Richard to "pick his brain". She purchased a leather bound diary to record any nuggets of wisdom that she would learn along the way.

Her first entry was:

*People like to help other people. Do not be scared to ask!

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