On September 8, 1992, I walked into the 35th floor of a high-rise in Des Moines, Iowa (yes, Des Moines has high rises) with my blue suit, white blouse, and sensible Payless pumps and my briefcase.
On May 29, 2009, I walked out of a 35th floor high-rise in Seattle, wearing a flowing black and white flowered skirt, black sweater and pearls, a black faux Pashmina shawl, and Jimmy Choos, carrying a lovely red tote.
Yesterday was the end of an era. I often say "Never say never", and I won't rule out the possibility of being back, someday. I did leave the firm once before, and came back. We made several military moves, so there were new offices every few years. Who knows what life will bring.
But I'm 40. I walked out of that office yesterday, leaving behind a million memories . . . and that's probably how they will stay.
Monday I start a new career, and one that my colleagues would be more than happy to have. I am so thrilled to have been given such a great opportunity in such an adverse situation, I don't think you'll ever be able to understand. I plan to use this to jump start the next era, and hope that it wears off on all aspects of my life.
I've always thought I was pretty good at what I did. Thought I was smart and technically competent. Along the way, I tried to be a good leader, a good mentor, a good example.
The outpouring of thoughts from people along the way have been telling. While there was an occassional comment about giving me a call for technical advice, the overwhelming theme was not that they would miss my competence. The overwhelming theme was that they would miss how I treated them as a person. Valued their contributions. Welcomed them in my jobs and in my home. Was honest and up front with them. Held myself out as a professional, even as the firm yanked the rug out from under me. Carried myself with grace and poise and a positive attitude up until the day I left. Was a leader.
This, more than anything, made me proud. I know I lot of people who are good at what they do. There are far fewer people who are leaders. How fortunate that these last 16+ years have given me that opportunity to be one.
Monday, I will lead a new charge. May I lead with this same presence.
Wish me luck.
And PS . . . come visit me in the Bay Area!