During my life, it's usually been men who have taught me how to use my hands, but it's been women who have shown me how to conquer the world with my heart.
I will have to be careful not to attach spotlights and neon to my soap box on this topic, but I have never seen a group of people that has been mistreated in the hospitality industry as women.
Several years ago I was the key note speaker at a Women in the Food Industry business conference. The event took place at a restaurant in the Mall of America. As I prepared to step out onto the stage, I got really nervous.
Now for those of you who know me, you might find that hard to believe, but I have to tell ya, I think the thing I was most nervous about was that I would dissapoint. I would fall short in distruting wisdom and dissapoint my audience.
So, I walk onto the stage and say "Hi I am Klecko, I am a man, I don't know why they want me at a woman conference, but when I found out there was 100 of you, and I was the only guy....I didn't ask any questions!"
Then the girlios start laughing as I segued into a list of bulletpoint topics.
Now I had sat through some of the other female presenters speeches and took mental notes. I simply marveled at the fact that over a course of 5 hours and a half dozen presentations, not once did i hear any af the following words.............
Instead my collegues were giving presentations like Finding Your Validation in the Workplace. There was another woman who spoke professionally as a motivational speaker, her deal was entitled Birthquakes and at its conclusion she gave handouts that asked us to use a number scale chart to gauge your confidence.
Then there was the 2 "Good Looking Chicks", you know....every conference has these two. They are young, pretty, savvy and give you the impression that you're kinda a dumb ass because you have never figured out how to find the pot of gold with ease like they had.
OMG, all the women circled them like vultures with numorous questions, but most of them revolved around how hard was it to go into business with your best friend, do they seperate their business and proffesion lives. and all that sort of jazz.
So I'm up on stage, and much of what I saw that day nullified what I was going to preach. during public speaking gigs, I am pretty steadfast in following my script, but maybe it was the spirit of Polish Jesus, I don't know......but I set aside my clipboard and started free flying. Now the one thing I had going for me is that many of these woman knew me, or had heard of me, but as I started giving some of my impressions as to what I had observed, it started to get a little tense.
I discussed a mindset that has to take place in business, and to acheive this mindset you have to start at the dollar sign and move backwards, you don't worry about validating yourself, birthquakes, and the last thing you want on Earth is to be "friends" with anybody you work with.Proffesional respect will suffice.
OMG.....that comment stirred the beehive, I might as well made Hitler jokes or blasphemed Christ cuz the women turned on me and rattled my cage......hard! They remained steadfast in the belief that business and friendship were a secret formula to success.
But when my speech was complete, I stuck around and tried to decompress the energy, it is not good to send people home stressed from an event that is sold as uplifting and liberating.
Nest I shared stories in a more intamite setting about how many of my female cohorts in the Food Show had never been mentored in business principal basics. Often times men will try to impress women that if they use stern business practices they will be a "BITCH". If I had a dollar for everytime a female food service worker had confessed that they would have......or should have.....but they didn't because they did not want to be perceaved as a bitch, I'd be retired by now.
Then there is the whole sexuality element, and where would you start with that? But, I've seen it 1000 times over. I've baked with women who worked a dozen hours a week and got paid for 40 because their male boss was screwing them.
When a man engages in this kind of swap, the repercussions are huge. word gets out, rumors fly, and the worst ramification is transpires......gender trust is lost.
I could recite a mental list of these sick events, but it would take half a day and I always feel gross for a couple days after thinking about it, but the bottom line is this.....Men are intimidated by women. they know that if given an equal chance, women will do a better job.
It is amazing how liberated the fairer sex has become in their private lives.When people watch movies the Stepford Wives or shows like Mad Men, they will dialouge for hours how exploited women have been over the centuries and how now days women have become self actualized, I don't think so.
Remember, I am not talking about souls here, if so you could turn to Jesus, John Paul, Malcolm X or Ghandi, but we are talking about women in the Hospitality Industry, and what it will take for them to ever get a fair shake, so ladies to do this the only thing you'll need to remember is that money governs power. Take control of cash and you'll be in control of your own destiny.
As I close down this rant, I want to say, this topic is so steril, calculated, void of emotion that is seems kinda sickly, but thats what it smells like in the corridor of power folks.If you want to share in the plunder, you might want to invest in a mask, cuz you'll need to get used to that odor.
Francesca, Pam Sherman, Joan Ida, Lynn Gordon, Stephnie Shimp.....my hats off to all of you.
I believe that eventually women are going to become more assertive and take oppurtunities that rightly belong to them, and if they are in the Twin Cities, they will realize that the women listed above are just some of the trend setting pioneers that opened the door in the same fashion that Jackie Robinson contributed to healing baseball.