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Don’t Tear Down The People Who Could Build You Up

March 28, 2011

Within a few weeks of arriving in Cambodia, I met another young female social business owner. She studied textiles at University. She earned a prestigious fellowship to start her business.

When she looked at me, all she saw was my lack of qualifications. I studied theater and politics. I fell into fashion while trying to pursue the theater dream. I didn’t know how to weave. I had neither a business nor a fashion education.

After explaining my project she responded, “Good luck with that. I’m really interested to see how this turns out.”

Her tone was dripping with sarcasm. She didn’t really wish me well.

What she failed to see were my steadfast commitment to responsible development; a knack for predicting trends; an insane obsession with accessories; and the enthusiasm and perseverance to carry me through.

It’s been a little over one year and I’m quite proud. I might not know how to weave, but our patterns consistently delight and astound. I might not have studied fashion design, but people want to buy our bags.

I may not have a degree in development but I’m doing the hard work of bridging East and West, each and every day.

Under other circumstances, she and I could have supported each other. We could have worked together to better social business in Cambodia. But one snarky comment ended that. Closed the door on future collaborations.

I wonder: How often do we tear down the very people who could best support us?

6 Comments leave one →
  1. Bethany permalink
    March 28, 2011 10:44 pm

    what a bitch.

  2. Sol DeLeon permalink
    March 29, 2011 1:59 pm

    Snarky comments are unnecessary. None of us knows the potential of others or which relationships will create the most fruitful collaborations.

    However, I don’t see how this one conversation ruins all future ones. The opportunity to build each other up may still exist. At the very least, it does you no damage to leave that door of possibility open.

  3. Paige permalink
    March 31, 2011 2:18 am

    You amaze and inspire me!

  4. sophie permalink
    April 4, 2011 12:37 am

    Interesting how things go isn’t it. And how people fail to recognize the resources before them. Or perhaps this other business owner DID see your great potential and felt threatened. Who knows. Still not an excuse.

    I’m a self-employed graphic designer and periodically take on temp or contract work just to stay broad in my thinking. This week I responded to an agency needing help and the woman owner sounded exactly the same. “Are you even a graphic designer?” said in what sounded very condescending over the phone. I should have ended it right there, because she got no better as the conversation went along. Funny thing, I emailed her later, thanked her but declined further interest in the 2-day project, stating lack of availability. She emailed back the next day and asked when I would be available, that I sound like a perfect fit. Gee, I would have never guessed. I haven’t pursued it.

  5. April 5, 2011 11:58 am

    Its really unfortunate when people are so selfish and self absorbed that they cant even disguise disdain. Seriously, what a wench. I love your response, but I wonder at the time, how you felt about her words. You are doing awesome, and you are tenaciousleigh 😀

    • April 5, 2011 12:37 pm

      In the moment, I was pissed. Outraged. Shocked. Fired Up. Definitely made me want to prove her wrong.

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