I’m Elliot Sanders and I’ve been working for my Aunt Jennifer’s investment firm that caters to women entrepreneurs and their companies for some seven years. Many women talk about breaking a glass ceiling and I have a glass ceiling of my own within a female dominated company. I am the only male college graduate in this finance firm. I do research and support work for the woman associates but only recently, after six years, have I been able to work with clients to explain the obvious. The previous years I have always been second fiddle to the fourteen associates of my Aunt Ms. Jennifer Atwood, and her two Partners.
Today I’ve been called to meet with my Aunt Jennifer, though I’m not to acknowledge her as aunt or that we’re related. It is not a secret rather just good business etiquette not to mention it.
Jennifer Attwood welcomes me, “Hello Elliot, I am glad you came promptly, as I have an assignment that I am considering you for. I will explain the assignment, and then I will want to know if you think you interested and ready to break my rose color ceiling, as you call it.
She says, “Yes, I know you have been working here seven years feeling ‘you have been overlooked. Locked away doing our research and grunt work’, is that not how you term it? I even know you received your MBA four years ago.
“Yet it has only been in the past year that you’ve grasped Lioness Investments is more than finance, investments and the so called bottom line. I have been more than aware of your work for us. You have also been given you some allowances that I might not have put up with others in expressing your burdens.
“I commend you for the growth I’ve seen in the past fourteen months. You have improved your understanding of the various mindsets women bring to their investments and their companies. They are their regular business practices and much more.
She asks, “What can you tell me about Sophia’s Earth Oils including its name and its logo of a lioness?”
Elliot with abnormal humility, says, “Let me first say thanks Ms. Atwood.
“Sophia’s Earth Oils comes by its name because ‘Sophia’ is the Greek Goddess of Wisdom; ‘Earth’ denotes their products are natural elements and oils. Sophia is also the name of her daughter. They have the lioness’s share of such products in the liquid aromatic form of health oils. I would need to sharpen up more on their business and the primary owner Ms. Marjorie Alicia Lourdes. She is an accomplished chemist by her studies and work. More recently in the past decade has developed her own company of healing oils and fragrance therapy. Her daughter Sophie has become the administrator of their spin-off division of women's commercial fragrances. Those are used for social and pleasure.”
“They’re celebrating that their net worth is over fifty million dollars and have nearly twelve million in annual revenue from their products sales alone. Ms. Lourdes thinks she’s a major client of ours and very proud of her accomplishments. She thinks that because you project that she and her corporation are so important to us. Yes, Sophia’s Earth Oils will continue to grow, out pacing the norms for their industry. But they’re not one of our major clients.”
My aunt is pleased, “Yes Elliot, she is one of our moderate size clients yet we value them to remain and grow even more as an important client. Presently her company is very good and is emerging and growing its market place. You’re correct that in five to seven years; I anticipate they will be five to ten times larger than Sophia’s Earth Oils are presently. If they’re successful in continuing to increase their sales; I anticipate their revenue will grow closer to seventy to a hundred million dollars annually. She will also have income from companies utilizing techniques and products that she has the licensing rights to. We are developing a long term relationship of this emerging corporation. Marjorie and Sophia embody the spirit of what we are all about. We should be proud to serve them.
“I would be pleased for you if she and her corporation would warmly receive you as our new representative for them. If that would happen you will break the so called rose colored ceiling. I would appreciate that be the last time I hear of a rose colored glass ceiling as well as my being your Aunt. Allowances of your indiscretions in the past have come to an end. That is if you desire becoming an Associate at Lioness Investment Futures. You are gifted but you can also decide to stay where you are or move along. Please know, you are not being given this opportunity because of your being blood related.”
I ask as she stopped speaking, “Ms. Attwood, when will there be a decision pertaining me to having Sophia’s Earth Oils, Inc. as a client. How long do I get to study up on them more thoroughly? You spoke about meeting with them next week but when would you realistically be expecting me to begin working and meet with them?”
Jennifer Attwood says, “Did I not indicate at the end of this discussion, I would want you to speak up and decide? I would like to know your interest and if you think you are ready for this assignment. I am at the end of that part of the discussion.”
“They are used to working with women from our firm and Sophia Lourdes being your junior in age, will in many ways be your equal and a boss. And I will not be surprised if Marjorie will test your commitment and qualifications for serving them and their corporation.”
“Now then what is your response? Katherine Bode would be the Associate whom you are to go with future questions. You would be given the remainder of this week to become familiar with Ms. Lourdes portfolio and the detailed information on their company. You would hopefully seek an audience with her as early as Monday and no later than Tuesday.”
‘I feel like she is offering me to be thrown out into the deep to sink or swim. I would like to know more information. They have been Katherine Bode’s client. The growth of our company is forecasted to require two new Associates this year. Would I be considered for the next opportunity if I decline this one? I am pretty certain I would damage my career here by saying no or even saying I’m respectfully declining on this opportunity.’
I summon up my courage and a joyful smile to say, “Yes, Ms. Attwood, I am both interested and fully ready to take on the responsibility of serving our clients Ms. Lourdes and Sophia’s Earth Oils. Do you know if Katherine Bode is free to meet with me after this meeting? I would like to gain access to the files and have her brief me as soon as possible.”
Jennifer Atwood says, “I will be taking you to lunch at noon and I will be the one to prepare you for your client. Katherine hopefully will be free to meet with us by 2:00 p.m. at the latest. I suspect you will wear our slacks and wear a narrow blue satin tie instead of our scarf. I consider the blue as well as the black two inch heels appropriate attire for a metro male. Are you comfortable with that?”
I have previously skimmed the edge of company standards and expected them to change it for me if I ever became an Associate. Hopefully this is just a test of my commitment. That the requirements once I’m an Associate will be modified significantly. “I am willing to abide with the requirements for now.”
Jennifer says, “How you deal with your hair is your concern, just make sure it is clean and you are well groomed. You should be able to get to our clothier and be back to meet with me for lunch.”
Our clothier has previously modified my clothes to be more male than unisex appropriate. My black and my blue slip on shoes have barely had an inch and a quarter heels. Though for one dinner with clients I did wear shoes with the two inch heel.
I immediately inform my sector that I am meeting CEO Attwood for lunch and needing to get to the clothiers. Peg and Hope of our unit both greet me with hugs, saying they’re happy for me and will miss me.
Connie, the chief seamstress and manager of Professional Clothier’s, is ready for me on the second floor of our building. They had solely been a part of our company. Now owned and operated by Connie, for professional women and metro males in the corporate world. They have a handful of employees.
Connie always has projects that she’s working on; this is the first time she drops her other work to focus on me. It is probably minor in the scheme of life, but it holds some status for me that she is willing to do so. I go with the blue mule type unisex shoes and knee high socks that go with it. The pant legs are usually to be straight but I see a slight flare in two pairs along with two straight leg pairs that she is offering me. The dress shirts are light blue or shimmering white satin. She says, she will begin to carry pastel yellow and peach this week with other colors that I might want in the near future.
I have seen the metro look in the city as a growing fashion trend though by no means a major one. Already working in a dominantly female company, I have personally stayed away from the look. Connie helps me to develop a sweep of my hair across my forehead by brushing it in the opposite direction. I get camisole style undershirts and satin boy shorts with thin waistbands. The so-called sport coat has rounded shoulders, narrower lapels. I’m to have a metro style brief/purse case with shoulder strap along with a traditional handle.
While all this is going on, a new Samsung phone is being loaded with all my information. I am to come back tomorrow to get any more questions answered. I might need everything to be explained and run through as it is all several steps ahead of where I am presently. I’m told the Associates can even access their company accounts while maintaining needed security requirements.
I get back to my work area only to be shooed off and up to the next floor. I am sure I will be in office 7019 or 7020, maybe even a glorified closet until I prove myself. Surprisingly instead I am taken to office suite 7015 instead. Dottie Jones an experienced office assistant was brought to this section from my floor a year ago. She introduces herself as my Office Assistant. She meets with me long enough to send me to the ninth floor to go with Jennifer Attwood to lunch.
The restaurant we go to is geared for the executives, trustees and board of director kind of people. Several executives take notice that Jennifer is either hosting a new client or preparing to bring on a male associate. This is being taken notice of by more than a few.
She says, “You may call me Jennifer here unless it becomes appropriate to do otherwise.” If someone were to come over and talk with Jennifer it would be proper for me to address her as Ms. Atwood during that time. "You look good for one of our future Associates; relaxing in your new look is just a matter of time and mind over matter. …Was the sweep of your hair across the front Connie’s doing or your idea? …You do know there is makeup appropriate for men.”
Jennifer orders wine for the two of us; despite knowing the fact that I do not regularly drink wine. The wine is brought to us along with bread and cheese. She then orders a fancy chicken sandwich and green salad. I order the sandwich but a pasta salad. I know that this is all part of my boss observing me. Sipping the wine instead of drinking it down. Taking a piece of bread and a piece of cheese is an appetizer; seeking to finish the whole loaf and all the cheese would be to make a meal of it.
The sandwiches are modest in size as are the salads, while the prices are more expensive than my expense limit is presently. It is the privacy and calm that allows a good conversation that we are in part paying for. The chicken sandwich is very good. I could have enjoyed more of it. I’m given a portfolio that I’m to glance at without losing my focus on Jennifer. “Ms Marjorie Lourdes is likely to assume things about you working for us. How you deal with that without losing us a client will be up to you?”
I ask, “How might she assume things that I might become uncomfortable with?”
Her smile indicates she has some thought about it, but she says, “I do not like to guess or put words that may not be there. She is a very good executive and I’m sure she will observe you in her own way to her liking. She’ll want to know you’re a good filly that can go the distance with her and her company. Your primary task is to be her personal finance planner and investment officer if she so chooses to accept you. She herself has already acquired a sizeable sum. That is much higher than the value of her ownership in the corporation. You are to keep her personal wealth separate and secure from her involvement in the corporation. Do you understand that?
“She and many of our clients have interests far above the bottom line of what they may earn or that of their company. You are to listen and observe, learning what you need to know to personally serve her. If you become involved in helping her daughter Sophia that should be considered a separate account and again secured away from her mother’s wealth as well as separate from her business holdings.”
I do not realize that I am doing anything different until Katherine comes, and Jennifer says, “Elliot has been unusually good for him.” She realizes I am not sure of what she’s talking about. Elle has listened, entered notes onto his tablet and the few questions have all been good.”
Once Katherine is seated we order a dessert and coffee and continue as they’re bringing me on board with the Lourdes accounts. Katherine comments asking me, “Are you comfortable with your new position and look as an Associate?”
“I’m not an associate yet. Ms. Atwood says I should consider some makeup for us guys.” Katherine’s facial expression and body language indicates she is impressed with my demure response. It is after two-thirty when we are done and I am excused by Ms Atwood for the day.
I get back to the floor and review some information. I could consider it the end of my workday, but that would be unwise.
Once we’re back to our offices, I head inside going to set up my office. I ask my Assistant Dottie Jones, “Dot do you have any helpful ideas in my setting up my office?”
She says, “If possible, we should configure your computer to suit you but also to work with the general programs used by the other Associates. That would be of great benefit to you. You need to know that I don’t do any of that unless you approve. You are expected to make as many decisions on your own as possible. I know you regularly have checked and double checked decisions with others before. This will be a major change for you. The Lourdes will not be happy or patient with you; if you cannot make decisions they’ll ask of you.”
She says, “I am told Ms. Sophie Lourdes is a very attractive young woman. You’d do well if you could envision a baloney sandwich when you look at her. Yet you will need to remember she and others see her for the beauty that she has.”
“The last thing I will say is you look very good, but you need to relax in your new skin.” True to her word she becomes quiet.
“Dottie, I need Ms. Marjorie Lourdes full account file, and I want you to highlight important information of Sophia’s Earth Oils so we can discuss it late tomorrow morning. I’d would like a cup of coffee and for us to have hot coffee available for me during the day.” Shortly after I sit at my desk in my office Ms. Jones enters with the files I’m wanting.
I am restless as I feel like I’m dressed in women’s attire, be it metro male or unisex attire aside. The few calls I get the rest of the day are mostly congratulatory from inside the business. Ms. Jones stays until 5:20 pm. and she is taking part of her work home with her. I leave some twenty minutes after that also taking work home with me.
I forgot about Bonnie being at my apartment when I get there. I also forgot what I was wearing. Bonnie grins saying, “I take it that congratulations are in order for a promotion. I kind of like the new look; though it’s something we’ll both need to get used to.”
Bonnie comes over giving me a kiss and a hug; then pushing herself back away from me. She touches my chest; she undoes one, two buttons and touches inside my shirt. It is only when I check that I realize my camisole style undershirt is extra thick in the front. I am about to get angry and blow-up, when Bonnie first puts a finger to my lips and then gives me a kiss. We help the other undress down to my satin underpants and camisole and her bra and panties.
Bonnie is in control as we just have a beautiful time being there for one another. Our legs straddle one another as we find some pleasure in modest movement of our bodies against one another.
I had fallen asleep, for a short nap. I awake to the smell of soup permeating the house and Bonnie waiting at the end of the bed with her robe. She is dressed and the robe is for me. I had not realized until I slip it on that it snugly fits.
To be continued...
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