The other day I received an email that two good guy friends of mine, whom I’d recently introduced by phone, were in the midst of putting a deal of some magnitude together. Both guys were unaware, before I suggested they speak, that there was large-scale potential in their upcoming conversation. When I initially suggested they speak, it was my intention that they see whether there was a chance they could do each other some good for a different reason. Once on the phone, they realized this other much larger opportunity was right in front of them.
When I got the aforementioned email, I was delighted to find out that I would be remembered when and if the big money ever came through. While that could be sometime far into the future, I thought about it and made some calls to colleagues of mine to see what would be a fair commission on a deal like this.
I know there is a protocol for such a matchmaking effort. I’ve been putting people and opportunities together nearly my entire career. Yet, when I called my friend who represents the stakeholder to establish my cut right up front, (a rule of thumb I learned the hard way), he began to split hairs. I hadn’t after all, intended to put them together for this particular purpose, had I? “Well, um, no,” I had to admit, I hadn’t. So, therefore, we can’t really call it a finder’s fee, can we?
Once off the call, I thought about it and my head started spinning with replies I “should have” had at the ready. The heat started rising on the back of my neck thinking that I probably would have had a few perfectly “male” responses at my fingertips if only … well … I were a man. (The assumption being that men always have the right words at the ready and we women don’t.)
One of those might have been: “Hey, Pal, a deal’s a deal. Who cares what my intention was!” or more to the point, “What the fuck!” I had to look closer at why I acquiesced.
I was horrified at what I found. My first reflection was the parental one. He was the daddy and I was the little girl bringing the chance for a reward for doing something praiseworthy and then not speaking up appreciatively when the reward wasn’t the kind or amount I expected. Or, he was the boss and I was the underling. He was telling me how it was going to be. Not the other way around. Or, I was the girl in all this and I have learned over the years that I should take what I’m offered and be happy about it. Could any, or worse yet, all, of these hypotheses be true? Or even partly true?
My 90-year-old Aunt suggested recently that I “get a real business man involved”, meaning either of my cousins. What part of that sentence is applicable? the “real”, the “business” and/or obviously, the gender part. Was she just reflecting back the truth about deal making? Women in general are just not savvy and not to be taken seriously?
When I lived in LA, I had the privilege of meeting some Hollywood blockbuster women: Paula Silver, Linda Obst, Debra Hill to name a few. None of these women would have agreed that they needed to “get a real business man involved” in any of their deals, that’s for sure. I remember reading Dawn Steel’s book, “They Can Kill You But They Can’t Eat You” early in my career. Sure Dawn saw a shrink 4 times a week and went shoe shopping when the business world came close to killing her. But it was cancer that finally got her, not the movie business.
So, Ladies, (and gents) please stand up and be counted on this topic. I’d love to hear what you “guys” think. To be continued….