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Some years ago, right after we caught our breath from the financial crisis, I took my then-young-teenaged son to dinner to celebrate the end of the school year. He got to choose the restaurant; naturally, he chose a steak house.
As we were being seated, I recognized Dick Fuld. The Dick Fuld. Former CEO of Lehman Brothers, whom I had covered as a research analyst at Bernstein. I stopped, said hello, met his daughter, and introduced my son.
As we walked to our table, I thought, “Great. A teaching moment.”
When we sat, I said, “Honey, that was Dick Fuld and he …”
My son cut me off …with energy. “You don’t have to tell me who Dick Fuld is. I know who Dick Fuld is! He shouldn’t be at dinner; he should be in jail!” He went on and on and on … about the financial crisis, about the collapse of Lehman Brothers, about his views on greed on Wall Street. I kid you not. These were not topics we were discussing at home, though we had certainly been living the financial crisis. I thought he was too young to “get it” or have any interest.
And, let’s just say, his views on Wall Street were not positive.
Uh-oh, I thought.
I said to him, “Honey, you know I work on Wall Street, don’t you?”
His reply: “I know. I Googled you. You’re one of the good guys.”
Fast-forward to this summer. My daughter is interning for me: She’s doing a bit of research, grabbing coffee for the team, watching us build product. We’re all in an office the size of a larger-than-average broom closet — one in which I can’t get out of my chair without ramming the back of our lead designer.
At one point, as we were heading home one day, I said to her, “Funny, isn’t it? I used to have an office many times the size of this for just me, I had a driver, I had a jet, I had fresh-baked cookies.”
Her response: “So what? Sure, the money’s not as good, but look at how much happier you are, Mom, than in your last job. You’re creating something and you’re trying to make a difference in the lives of women.”
I promise you, I’m not making this up. Not a word of it. I was floored.
I’ve written about the handful of smart things I did as working mom. One thought to add: Why should we work as though our children are watching?
Because they are.
Even if we don’t think they are, they are.
Sallie Krawcheck is the Chair of Ellevate Network and Ellevate Asset Management. Ellevate Network is a professional woman’s network, operating across industries and around the world. Both businesses are committed to the full economic and financial engagement of women.