"What the hell is this about?"
Well, soon enough - in only 18 months - she let herself know as well as the rest of us that it was a mistake. An understandable one since she had lost her job in a public relations firm in Stamford, Connecticut.
And that was that. The Next: Returning to her hometown in Texas, opening a design boutique and succeeding beyond any of our expectations. I use her services for my own communications boutique. The Manhattan interlude never comes up in conversation.
In a turbulent labor market, we Baby Boomers who want to continue working have to embrace that same ability to admit mistakes and do speedy course correction. That pattern is exactly how Mark Zuckerberg made it big developing a social network. He and his team were always open to moving on to Plan B, C, D and Double-D when A didn't pan out.
And it was on that same network, Facebook, that I had made a whopper of a mistake. Of course it was understandable: My once wonderfully successful and stable business was having scary highs and lows. Simultaneously, the world was treating me as "old." You bet, I was unhinged.
Somehow, on digital I bumped into former classmate at Seton Hill, Greensburg, Pennsylvania, Lee Harrison. I experienced that as finding a kind of sanctuary from the non-stop emotional roller coaster my little life had become. I interviewed her for my blogs. All went well.
Then I began to become undone. The relationship migrated to Facebook. There it became: Hail, hail, the gang's all here. Other members of the Class of 1967 were there. They included Charlotte Toal, Irene Nunn and Kathleen Huebner.
The first red flag that this was not going to be good for me was the amount of time I noticed I was investing in Facebook. That was happening without any payoff in new business.
Hey, I am a dirty capitalist. At age 11, I had a Wallace Brown Greeting Card franchise. At Sacred Heart grade school, I sold the most subscriptions to the Newark Star Ledger. At Seton Hill I operated The Stocking Shop, selling whatevers, including the nylons which were required in those days at a woman's Catholic college, which I had purchased for peanuts back in my hometown.
The second red flag was the seeming undue concern by the Gang of Four about my progress or lack of it in technology. Yet, since I operate a business full-time, I can only invest time mastering technology I need to serve clients. The tentative title of a book I have a contract for is "Ambushed By a GPS: Et tu, Charlotte."
The third and the one which really got my attention was the post by Huebner on sunglasses I could purchase for under $35.00, now that relocated to Tucson, Arizona.
The sunglasses recommendation did it. I pulled down my Facebook page.
Attempting to resume relationships which were more than half a century old was a mistake. The Gang of Four and I haven't communicated through any medium since the end of May 2014.
The payoff from all that, of course, is the learning which should come from the mistake. Here is just some of it:
Move forward. Not backward. Another Seton Hill classmate, Anne Desmond, had contacted me about 8 years ago. I thanked her for reaching out but explained I had to stay in the present. Several years later she again contacted me. That time I caved. We tried at a relationship. She was the one who dumped me.
We change. Others change. The world changes. Years before the Facebook mistake, I had met up with another Seton Hill classmate, Karen Cordaro, for lunch in Manhattan. I perceived that it did not go well (understatement, LOL).
Speak up. Yes, observe the code of civility. But let others know you find the conversation, whatever the medium, intrusive. It took about 11 months to get a hang of that but that I have. There is so much less pain involved with my relationships, professional and personal.
Seek a second opinion. An executive coach was worth every penny of the funds I had invested to sort out the disaster. Yes, I needed to understand what the dynamics might have been in that disaster.
Push back. By this time in our careers, we Baby Boomers have acquired many tools and contacts for righting what we perceive as wrongs. Those range from experience with the legal system to sharing our stories in the media. There is space between nice and nasty.
With practice we can find it and become comfortable there. Never again will I aim to be A Good Girl. No, I don't give a damn what the other four think about the situation. What matters is what I think.
Mistakes cost us. Emotionally, spiritually, financially. We are fools not to ensure that they give us a new edge in our careers. Because of the Facebook experience I am now a more confident, determined professional.
Takeaway: The mistake is a use it or lose it opportunity.