Shannon Ingram's Place

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Location: Orange County/CA

Musings of a woman who left her corporate career to become a caregiver for elderly parents, wrote a book and found her way back to corporate - with love, instead of fear, leading the way. Now working at my Alma Mater, UC Irvine, as Marketing and Communications Director for the School of Biological Sciences.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Career Lessons

I hope you will read my latest blog post on Vibrant Nation:


I'm doing my best to post different stuff here on my personal blog; but I want to be sure and share the other stuff with you too.

Many of the great lessons from my career have been from horrible bosses. The film title, "Horrible Bosses," has caused me to remember those "teachers" this week! I've had two that stand out as bad and dozens who were good.
The first bad one, a woman, was a beautiful, creative being who could light up a room with her presence. Unfortunately, she had a super dark side - she was controlling and petulant, bordering on evil. She encouraged us to join her in lines of cocaine (I declined), called us at 9 PM and kept us on the phone till midnight, slept with her married clients and celebrities she brought to work on projects with us. She relished calling us into a meeting and then picking at least one person to castigate and humiliate.

I learned something invaluable from that awful treatment. We all have a choice about how we respond, even to a horrible boss. We can get up and walk away. But most of us on this woman's staff - and we were all women - sat there and suffered alongisde the victim.

All of us were victims, but for different reasons. Some were addicted to her because she was like an abusive parent - one minute giving us lavish presents (i.e., Louis Vuitton bags, French perfume, Tiffany bracelets, pharmaceuticals), and the next minute spewing rage, threats and fear to bring us to our knees. She was a BAD woman. She was even horrible to HER boss, who was also a victim until she decided to fire the woman. That happened after I had resigned...and guess what? I came back and the company survived without the beast.

The second horrible boss I had was very different. He had a bad temper and was prone to outbursts if he didn't get his way. Maybe that's because he was tiny - about 5 feet tall. But he was also extremely intelligent and his nasty demeanor was cultural. He was from Japan. Ultimately, the lessons I learned from him were invaluable because of that cultural piece. I learned that he never meant to be abusive in a way that would truly hurt me. He just wanted what he wanted and sometimes I - who am very tall - couldn't give him that, so he exploded. I studied other Japanese executives and discovered that was a pattern ingrained in them. When I quit my job and moved away, I decided to stay in touch with him. He always had something nice to say - either during a quick phone call or in a card or letter. I cried for an hour the day I got the news that he had suffered a stroke and died. He was a GOOD man, even though he was a horrible boss.

Who among your bosses has made an impact on you in terms of career lessons? Let me know....

Friday, July 08, 2011

Casual for a Cause

People often ask me why I love my job at Silverado Senior Living so much, even when there is deadline stress. It's because of days like yesterday. We had our usual morning and afternoon 15-minute exercise classes. We had a big afternoon birthday celebration with cake and ice cream. Bindi-Sue (my Corgi mix pup) and I drove south to meet some people for a tour of Silverado-Encinitas and got to see my favorite miniature horses. And just about everyone in our corporate offices had a "Casual for a Cause" day. We paid $5 each as a donation to the Alzheimer's Association and we got to wear casual clothes one extra summer weekday. In addition to all the work that was accomplished, everyone had smiles on their faces all day, as you can see in the photo above. There's no place like Silverado when it comes to putting a smile on my face....and yes that's me smiling in the middle right behind my associate, Marcelo!