Some years ago, right after we caught our breath from the financial crisis, I took my then-young-teenaged son to dinner to celebrate the end of the school year. He got to choose the restaurant; naturally, he chose a steak house.
As we were being seated, I recognized Dick Fuld. The Dick Fuld. Former CEO of Lehman Brothers, whom I had covered as a research analyst at Bernstein. I stopped, said hello, met his daughter, and introduced my son.
As we walked to our table, I thought, “Great. A teaching moment.”
When we sat, I said, “Honey, that was Dick Fuld and he…”
My son cut me off…with energy. “You don’t have to tell me who Dick Fuld is. I know who Dick Fuld is! He shouldn’t be at dinner; he should be in jail!!” He went on and on and on…..about the financial crisis, about the collapse of Lehman Brothers, about his views on greed on Wall Street. I kid you not. These were not topics we were discussing at home, though we had certainly been living the financial crisis. I thought he was too young to “get it” or have any interest.
And, let’s just say, his views on Wall Street were not positive.
Uh-oh, I thought.
I said to him, “Honey, you know I work on Wall Street, don’t you?”
His reply: “I know. I Googled you. You’re one of the good guys.”
Fast forward to this summer. My daughter is interning for me: she’s doing a bit of research, grabbing coffee for the team, watching us build product. We’re all in an office the size of a larger-than-average broom closet: one in which I can’t get out of my chair without ramming the back of our lead designer.
At one point, as we were heading home one day, I said to her, “Funny, isn’t it? I used to have an office many times the size of this for just me, I had a driver, I had a jet, I had fresh-baked cookies.”
Her response: “So what? Sure, the money’s not as good, but look at how much happier you are, Mom, than in your last job. You’re creating something and you’re trying to make a difference in the lives of women.”
I promise you, I’m not making this up. Not a word of it. I was floored.
I’ve written about the handful of smart things I did as working mom. One thought to add: Why should we work as though our children are watching?
Because they are.
Even if we don’t think they are, they are.