The Playfulness of Business

The clock on the bedside table said 7 a.m. Much too early for this girl who had been up late the night before at an industry dinner. 

I was three days into a conference in Washington DC and was slated to speak to a room of seasoned magazine executives after breakfast. But first things first. Wardrobe. 

No-nonsense Banana Republic dress? Check. Conservative heels, not too high, not too flat? Check. A light coat of mascara and under eye concealer to play some “I feel so refreshed from a great night’s sleep” trickery from the stage? Check. 

Hair…. Hair…..umm, nothing. An unfortunate wardrobe oversight, for sure, because I have quite the head of long, thick, unruly hair. Twenty minutes until the continental breakfast and I needed to think of something―pronto. My go to style in desperate times like these? The side braid. After a few failed attempts, I got it right. I reached into the depths of my makeup bag for a hair thingy. (What’s your name for it?) 

I think you can see where this story might be headed. No hair thingy to be found.  After a futile five-minute one-handed search through bags, pockets, zipper compartments and suitcases, a concierge request for a rubber band delivery would be next.  When I opened the coat closet and voilà! A satin hanger. And not just ANY satin hanger; this satin hanger had a white satin ribbon bow wrapped around the hook. 

With my one free hand (the other holding the end of my braid for dear life) I unraveled the ribbon and, with some pretty spectacular replicating ability, I might say, I tied it around the base of my braid into a perfectly dainty bow. 

I looked in the mirror―and felt a tinge (understatement) mortified. Business dress, conservative shoes, ladylike makeup…and white schoolgirl, Pollyanna bow. 

Awesome, Megan. Way to be legit among your new peers.

Feeling deflated, I weighed the ramifications of scrapping the entire idea. But time was not on my side and Lord knows I needed that coffee and dry muffin to keep me from a nerve-ridden dizzy spell on stage. 

In that moment, instead of panicking, I paused. 

Breathe in. Breathe out. 

And in those few moments of pause two words came to mind: sweet and spirited.  

And I smiled. 

With my power suit ironed and my game face on, I had been verging on puking for two days as I prepped to speak to the decades of experience in the ballroom four floors down. But in that moment of culminated anxiety, my little white bow actually became a gift. A reminder of the sweet. The fun. The more lighthearted and less hard-on-myself ways I know I need, especially in moments of “work mode” like these. 

The clock was ticking. I turned the Spotify channel to Katy Perry while adding the last swipes of makeup and final touches to my presentation and then jetted to my caffeine and bran.

An hour later, nerves subsided, I spoke to the publication pros, with my white satin bow borrowed from the hotel hanger and bright courage in my step. I was, in essence, silently preaching from the podium what this magazine...this mission…is all about: “blending the serious with the serendipity,” as one reader put it. 

It’s so EASY to get wrapped up in the seriousness of business. There’s a reason the term is coined “serious business,” right? The goals, the juggling and balance, the presentations, the proper hashtag usage, a meeting’s productivity or lack thereof and the disappointments over excel spreadsheets. Even our victories can swallow up any bit of joy in a day when we use them only as strategies for reaching the next rung on the ladder.

But when satin bow moments happen, we need to grab ahold of those little gifts of whimsy and wonder. They do come along! Often! You must open your eyes and look for them. Because they have huge potential to impact the course of your day. 

Had I worn a frumpy rubber band whose first life was wrapped around the morning newspaper in the lobby, I likely would have been disgruntled with my ‘bad start’ to the day and it would have showed. And I can promise you my smile wouldn’t have been nearly as big from stage, which ultimately gave others a reason to smile after that same late night party we all were dragging from.