Friday, March 26, 2010

The Exit Strategy

By now you all know that my strong suit has been as a business strategist.

In the bright-lights-big-city 1980s, I awoke each morning after sleeping fast. Pulled my thick chestnut hair at the nape with a covered rubber band from Zitomer's, opened the cedar closet in my Carnegie Hill closet and dressed for success:
  • A not-so-feminine charcoal grey wool Brooks Brothers suit with floppy red silk bow at the neck of my crisp Pima cotton french cuffed blouse OR
  • A not very sexy double-breasted black gabardine coat dress with brass buttons from Bonwit's that still hangs in my closet waiting for what I am unsure ... an artifact from the days of bumping my head on the glass ceiling OR
  • As my confidence in the shark tank evolved I dared to wear lovely silk dresses, pearls and stilettos

... and entered the mostly male bastions of high finance. Me in a skirt. A strong moral compass pinned to my breast.

My passion for doing deals and the penchant for seeking them out securely glued to strands of DNA. My father's daughter. A deal doer chomping at the bit. The thrill of bringing buyer to seller. Making an acquisition happen whether it be a piece of machinery, a division or a company.

Energized by the transaction-fueled hysteria propelling the decade before Black Monday put an abrupt end to all things M&A, LBOs and all investment banking activities even trading securities. Yep. Brought to our collective knees by the unscrupulous Gordon Gekkos. Modern Turks. A precursor to greed run amok. The same dynamics in play as mortgage backed securities grabbed the global economy by the ying-yang in the aughts and yanked us all to the ground. My own personal Idaho still crippled.

A risk taker, it was a natural evolution to leverage my skill set and transition to (ad)venture capital [as Charlie called it when asked what his mommy does for a living] in the burgeoning, giddy, delirious hi tech days of the 1990s. The key component - the most salient ingredient for maximizing ROI and assuring the partners beaucoup multiples on dollars invested- the 'out clause'. The ubiquitous exit strategy.

So it should come as no surprise that prior to embarking on any endeavor I locate the out clause. The unwind. How to transition out. Mitigate the risks. Minimize my losses. Stop the outflow. Preserve. Reposition. Recover.

Oh oh. I've hit upon something. A stunning observation fueling the rhythm of living my life in chapters. To stay safe from harm, injury or destruction I have avoided motoring through obstacles. I merrily kick them aside. Persevere. OMG. Quite the revelation. Challenges encountered along the way gracefully (or sometimes clumsily) circumnavigated.

Is it merely my finely honed strategic thinking which drives forward a comprehensive scrutiny of any given situation, personal or professional, identifying probable alternatives, defining benchmarks to gauge my location on the arc, understanding the risks and knowing when to get out? I'd like to think so. Or, is it fear? And if so ... of what? Loss of self.

So the metaphysical question becomes: How much can I lose of myself and still be me? Je pense donc je suis. Is this enough?

Hmmmm ... I'll have to chew on this a bit. Cheers, je pense.


  1. I like to admire my obstacles from afar. Give them the space and admiration they deserve.

  2. your comment on my blog this morning brought tear to my eye.

    I think, perhaps, we are kindred spirits.

    A toast to you.