I’m in Cincinnati! Again. This is what it looked like last time I was here in April.
I’m sure I’ve written about this before, but I used to think business travel would be glamorous. This is probably because I grew up in the 80s and 90s when being a Business Woman was glamorous. The truth is, there isn’t much glamorous or sophisticated about actual work, which is what business travel is for. It’s an extra long day, extended with flights or drives or trains, during which time I can’t work, yet still need to get the work actually done. I do not get to swan around exotic locations wearing oversize sunglasses and a designer scarf, showing up only to deign meetings with my presence, like I thought I would get to when I was much, much younger. Most business travel, in reality, requires days of prep beforehand, follow-up actions afterwards, and no end of sifting through all the emails that came in as soon as the wi-fi cut out on my flight.
And yet, aside from missing my men, I don’t mind business travel. Like advertising and business in general, it isn’t a glamorous activity, but it does enable include the part of my job I like the most: talking. Not just talking myself, but having everyone talk, brainstorming, discussing, planning, reviewing. The kind of meetings I travel for, are when we take a step back and look at the forest, instead of being lost in trees. Being in a room of people all working towards the same goal, even a corporate, commercial goal, is exciting, albeit in a nerdy way, and that is what I travel for. Despite all those promises made in the 1990s about “virtual meetings”, there is still no substitute for just sitting around a conference table. It’s likely a descendant of storytelling, sharing ideas and concepts, which is a very human element to keep in business.
Still, I’m trying to figure out where I got the idea that business travel would be exciting. Perhaps it was because I assumed if I was important enough to travel, I would be an Important Businesswoman in general. And even without watching mainstream movies my entire childhood, I still managed to pick up, by osmosis, the idea that being in business would be exciting and sophisticated.
Sigourney Weaver in “Working Girl”: an awful boss BUT a sophisticated terrible boss with an amazing harbour view from her office. It should be noted that when “Younger” did a Working Girl riff this week, I died.
Where did the women of my generation get this idea? Is it descended from the archetype Helen Gurley Brown created in 1962, the idea of the sophisticated girl about town? Given that the woman used mineral oil as a salad dressing to discourage eating, I have my doubts about her mental stability in general.
Small steps forward, ladies! SMALL STEPS IN YOUR HEELS.
It may be more likely to stem from the increase of women in white collar jobs in the late 70s and early 80s, the daughters of the first feminist revolution, who grew up with wider horizons than their mothers – including the idea of having their own careers
Source: “Women in Top Management“, Sage Business Research. Actually, it is a really fascinating article in general about the under representation of women in top management
Wherever this idea came from, it is nicely encapsulated in this Hark! A Vagrant comic strip. This is the perception of the business woman in the 80s: all goals all the time.
What is it about being goal oriented, about being tough, that says “sophisticated” though? It may be the association of businesswomen as being urban creatures, who would have to have the sophistication required to live in an engaging way in a big city. It may be the idea of the intelligence required to succeed in an environment in which the odds are stacked against women. It may even be the perceived lack of typical female insecurities, which is a whole other post. I am still unsure what it was about this image that appealed to me so much when I was younger, much less how this image permeated pop culture enough to trickle down to me.
Regardless, here I am in Cincinnati, on a business trip, waiting for the end of the reggae fest at Fountain Square across the street so I can go to sleep, poking at a deck I’m presenting tomorrow, missing my men and eating a decidedly unsophisticated take-out salad from Panera Bread.
Corporate reggae brought to you by Proctor and Gamble!
No one actually said business travel would be glamorous, I just assumed it. And I suppose we all know what they say about “assume”…