Copyright Protect Registered & Protected

Purchase the Collection on Lulu!

Support independent publishing: Buy this book on Lulu.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Presentation, Presentation, Presentation - by Gretchen Davis-Strutzenberg

Tami was a new associate at one of the largest marketing firms in North America. All of her professors and even the director she had interned for said the same thing, “Tami you have creative talent and vision out of this world.”

Still after each sentence would be a ‘but’. Tami always tried to look her best and she did. However being an African American woman was her first strike; being overweight was her second.

Tami usually over compensated in the personality department to offset her weight and the stereo-types that followed with being a black woman.

After working for two years as an associate Tami watched her peers and colleagues move up, get promotions and larger accounts. One thing that she noticed is that all of these were either men or women who were fit and trim. Staying positive was the only thing that helped her keep sane.

Thursday afternoon, Mr. Kelly brought her into his office. What did the CEO want to talk to Tami directly about? As she walked in she noticed a pair of Stacy Adams shoes, wingtips, attached to the most handsome African American man she’d ever seen.

“Tami, I’d like you to meet Franklin, he one of our new Marketing Executives. Since you have demonstrated the ability to handle very important and lucrative projects such as the most recent and successful German Auto Manufacturer campaign ad, I want to pair you with Franklin for another more important account.”

Why am I being assigned to work with an executive, she thought. Maybe he’ll be watching me so that I can get that promotion. Always positive.

Tami walked out in front of Franklin and it was a good thing she could not see his face behind her.

Franklin knew he was a hot commodity. He had a ‘general’ grasp of the marketing field but his climb to executive status was based on his ability to charm and his looks didn’t hinder the situations. And once again they would not fail him now.

He saw the way she looked at him. He’d also heard about Tami’s skills on the down low. She was a real pushover and he wanted to make partner. Maybe he’d be ‘nice’ and make her his assistant once they got this deal. He chuckled to himself. “Look at how she wobbles! Good grief! If she were two more inches wider she would be rubbing the walls as she walked down the isle.”

Tami was animated and spoke about the project, her ideas and everything they would need to do to make the project successful. This campaign would be the largest won in the history of their firm; a cool $100 million dollars.

One week into the project Tami had done a little bit of research and found the key to making the deal done. Franklin was thrilled. He did not have to lift a finger, as usual.

Tami prepared the notes, dealt with the graphics designer and put all the finishing touches on the project. She was tired and it was late. She’d have to call a cab. She started putting her notes into her bag and cleaning off her desk. Just then Franklin walked into her office with two glasses and a bottle of champagne.

“Let’s celebrate!” Tami could not help but feel a little bit excited and hopeful that during the last few weeks Franklin was beginning to feel something for her.

He raised his glass to toast and said “To a great project and an awesome team.” Tami drank, Franklin watched her. There was something about her that was physically attractive but not enough for him to give into it. He paused and looked at her and said, “Now Tami you do realize that when we present to the customer it is not only the work on the campaign that they will see but also those presenting what the company promotes.”

“Oh yes and I am ready. I purchased a new suit and ….”

“You know that is good and fine but, well Tami, our firm needs to demonstrate to our clients that we can represent well and also look the part.”

“What are you saying Franklin?”

“Look Tami I don’t want to be mean but honestly our clients do not want to see a fat, black girl directing such a lucrative and costly campaign. If you cannot control your own eating habits, how well will you control the budget and ads, you know”

“Are you implying that my size and race, which you are also a member of, unfortunately, has something to do with the success of this project?”

“Isn’t it obvious? You’re still an associate after 2 years. It hasn’t hit you yet? Presentation, Presentation, Presentation. Look, why don’t you go on home and we’ll go over the notes in the morning and I’ll conduct the presentation. You’ll get full credit for your contributions to the project and it will all be fine.”

“Yeah we’ll well see. Good Night”

Tami walked out to the lobby and waited for the doorman to hail her cab. She could not believe his audacity. She needed to get in early to speak to Mr. Kelly about it. This was practically her project. He did nothing to contribute. She would not let him take credit for her hard work.

The next morning Tami got in early and came in “stop-traffic” sharp. Everyone was oohing and ahhing. Tami was dressed to the nines in her red skirt suit. The skirt was trimmed in a cute short pleats and she had on her killer 4 inch matching heels.

Sofia, Mr. Kelly’s secretary had not made her way into the office yet. Tami knocked on the door and Mr. Kelly said, “Come in.” To Tami’s surprise there was Franklin sitting on the suede couch.

“Good Morning to you also Tami.” Franklin loved the surprise look he saw in Tami’s eyes. She did look good but dang, girl was thick! That was beside the point. He had already had a ride to the office with Mr. Kelly and it was decided. He’d do the presentation and that was all. Tami would have the opportunity to be in the room and answer any additional questions the clients may have.

“Mr. Kelly, I wanted to speak with you this morning before the presentation, privately.”

“Yes Tami, about the presentation…I am sorry but I spoke with Franklin this morning and his points make sense. You know this is a very delicate project. We will all benefit from this presentation being successful. I want you in the room during the presentation and available afterwards to answer any questions the clients may have.”

Tami just stood there in shock. She turned to walk out the door when Franklin stood up to get the door for her and said, “Great suit.”

She wanted to slug him, but she kept her composure and walked into her office. She put her bag down and made a few changes to her notes. Franklin knocked and then popped his head in the door. “Can I get those notes from you? I want to review them so that I am ready.”

Tami had a sweet yet sly grin on he face as she passed the index cards to Franklin.

“No hard feelings, Tami?”

“No, none at all Franklin, knock’em dead.” She smiled. Franklin walked out of her office shuffling the note cards. When the door shut, Tami opened her drawer and pulled out another set of note cards. She smiled a little devilish grin, reviewed the cards and grabbed her pad folio. After stopping in the kitchen for a small coffee, Tami ran into the restroom to freshen up.

Fluffing her curls and reapplying lipstick to her natural, yet perfectly shaped lips, Tami heard another woman in the stall throwing up. She sounded like she was having difficulty. A few seconds later a small woman in her mid 30’s appeared out of the stall. Her eyes were bloodshot and she had a little stain on her blouse.

“Are you ok?”

“No, but I’ll be ok. I think I am pregnant.”

She started to cry. Tami wet a paper towel and handed it to the woman. She buried her face into the towel.

“I’m Tami Green. Can I get you something?”

“Thank you Tami. I’m Brenda Daly. I am here for a presentation for our company’s new marketing campaign.”

“We’ll then I will be seeing you in the conference room.”

“Are you the executive presenting?”

“No but I will be there if you have any questions. Can I get you anything, something to settle your stomach?”

“Thank you so much. I’d appreciate that. I’d better get cleaned up. I’ll see you inside.”

Tami brought Brenda some Papaya tablets and a glass of water and walked into the conference room. Franklin was already in the room but keeping up with his regular M.O., doing nothing.

Tami sat at the back of the table and crossed her legs. Traci the Admin Assistant came in and dropped off bottles of water. Franklin winked and flirted with her. She giggled and left.

Mr. Kelly walked in with Brenda Daly from Premium Markets & Produce. Franklin rushed over to shake Brenda’s hand and schmooze her. Brenda was not impressed. She saw Tami sitting at the end of the table. She smiled and waved at her.

“Glad to see you in this meeting Tami”

Franklin looked shocked and then began the meeting. The lights were dimmed. Franklin didn’t do too badly of a job presenting the project to Brenda. Tami smiled since she had the full notes.

Brenda asked all the questions that Tami knew would come up. Since it was her job to answer questions she did it and she did it well. Brenda left the meeting thanking Mr. Kelly for his time. She shook Franklin’s hand briefly, then blushed and turned to Mr. Kelly. Brenda called Tami off to the side and thanked her again for helping her in the restroom. Then she invited her to lunch.

Mr. Kelly walked with Tami into her office and told her to make a great impression. She smiled and grabbed her purse and walked out.

Deep down Mr. Kelly felt sorry for Tami. Over the years he had seen her success get passed on to others who were less than deserving. He like her was the underdog at one point in his career and he was determined this time around to make sure that she was not on the butt end of the stick.

When Tami returned from lunch with Brenda, Franklin was running behind Tami as though she had the last steak and he was a big ol’ dog. “So did Ms. Daly mention anything to you about the presentation; is she going to go with our firm for the marketing campaign?” Tami stopped at her office door, and just before opening the door and walking in she turned to look Franklin in the eye. She gave him a stare that made him back up. Next she stepped in closer to him and said, “Yes she mentioned your ‘presentation’ and said that she was still deliberating about her final decision and that she’d get back to us later today. Oh and she mentioned one other thing….”

“What was that?!”

“Your fly was open for the entire presentation.”

If Franklin where white he’d have turned completely red.

“Next time Franklin you might want to check your attire before starting a meeting. Remember it’s all about ‘presentation, presentation, (and pointing to his fly) Presentation!’”

And with that said she walked into her office, closed the door, and laughed on the other side. Franklin composed himself and walked down the gossiping corridor to his office, on the other side of the building.

Mr. Kelly called Tami at 3:45 pm. He had great news. Tami walked down to his office, and expecting to either see or hear Franklin in tow. Sophia showed Tami in. Surprise! Franklin was not sitting on the couch. Mr. Kelly was sitting behind his desk with the video conference on. Brenda Daly and her Management Team were sitting in a conference room at their headquarters.

“Hello Ms. Daly, gentlemen.”

“Tami you can call me Brenda.”

Tami smiled a little and then turned to Mr. Kelly. He could see the question-mark in her face.

“Brenda please tell Tami what you just told me.”

“I’d be delighted to Mr. Kelly. Tami, we have reviewed your notes and proposal graphics for our new campaign and I am delighted to let you know that we have accepted. But I personally wanted to be the one to tell you that we want you on board or else we go with another firm.”

Whispering under her breath while still smiling, “but Mr. Kelly what about Franklin?”

“Oh forget him! You have done a great job again as usual and now it is your time to shine.”

“Now Mr. Kelly we would like to begin working on the campaign as soon as our management team returns from hiatus. That will be in two months. Tami we will be ready to go at that time. Thank you again for all your hard work.”

The conference ended and Mr. Kelly stood up and walked around his desk to Tami. He shook her hand and told her how proud he was of her and how thankful he was she held her ground over the last two years and especially during this project.

Since Tami’s “big deal” would not begin for another 2 months, Mr. Kelly gave Tami vacation and hiatus and a huge bonus.

It was all about Presentation, Presentation, Presentation and Tami definitely had it.

No comments:

Post a Comment