Culture: Tell a Story
Written by: Bernadette B.
It was January 2020– a day I will not forget. My husband of three years had not felt well for a few weeks. After I asked for days to make an appointment, he finally agreed. He left work early to make the appointment to the doctor. When he came home, he was weak, unable to maintain a conversation and sometimes even confused. I quickly gathered him up, put him in the car and drove to the doctor’s office.
It wasn’t long after the doctor saw him that we were on our way to have a CT scan. Quickly after the scan, we found ourselves in the Emergency Department. I was worried and confused by the number of tests they were running, but I knew he was where he needed to be. After a few hours, we knew he was going to be admitted. The doctors saw some lesions on or in his brain that needed more tests. I quickly called our family, work, and friends to give the updates.
Let’s talk about what happened after that night. Within days, my husband had brain surgery to remove two of the six tumors in his brain. I stayed with him by his bedside for the five days he was in hospital. I worked from my laptop and phone while he slept. I took notes regarding the medication, test results, and surgery so I could ask questions. I barely got any sleep myself, but I somehow maintained my work schedule as best I could from his bedside.
As wives, we are used to splitting our time between personal and business life. During the time of this extreme moment in our life, it became clear I was going to be stretched thin.
At the time, I worked for an employer who did not know how to manage someone in a moment of crisis. This employer wanted me to continue to work the way I did before this crisis. I struggled to maintain my schedule. The amount of doctors appointments, follow ups, and sleepless nights was growing. I was on calls and emails with my bosses weekly about my work. No matter how many times I explained the schedule of the care of my husband, it fell on deaf ears. No matter how many calls of me justifying the deals being made, it came back to time on task.
After a month of defending myself with little support from this company, the last straw was a comment from a leader that “he is just your husband”. I told my husband I didn’t want to work for them anymore. Their culture expected me to leave the man I loved to send more emails, make more calls, and see clients in person, because “that’s how we do it here”. This was not the place I wanted to be anymore.
I wanted to be able to care for him, take him to his appointments and work from his side. This company’s culture did not allow for that to happen. I read a lot that people leave jobs because of culture, bad leadership, or lack of work/life balance. As employees, we rarely leave strictly for more money. I will say that after this moment in my life, that is very true.
By March of 2020, I no longer worked for that company. I left a good paying job with no other option in my future, for the better of my family. The lack of empathy or support drove me out of that job. I no longer wanted to “work” for them.
I took the opportunity to start my own company. I went out and found clients to replace the income of my corporate job, and was able to do so in about six weeks. This was wonderful for myself and my husband. I could work from his bedside, a hospital, a beach, our home or the car even. This was the freedom I needed. I took him to each appointment, sat with him during Cancer treatments and radiation. Every client I had knew what was happening. If I needed to move an appointment, or reschedule it was allowed with grace and forgiveness.
I was unable to find the culture, support, or freedom I needed at the time, so, I created it myself. As the years have passed, I notice how the word culture is used to grab the attention of potential employees. I see those same companies not understand culture is not snacks in a kitchen, drinks after work or pizza on Friday. Culture is giving the people you hire the ability to do their job with grace.
I want to continue the conversation about culture for all. I am a wife of a man I LOVE, and for me, my definition of culture and my needs for this word will be different than someone else.
We sit here after years of illness, loss of friends, family and loved ones. Years of jobs lost and won, clients lost and won, restaurants and business closed. I hope we have learned something from this.
Culture is not something to be thrown around. Culture is how you interview, how you hire and how you onboard new employees. Culture is how you retain your current employees. Culture is asking the right questions and hearing the answers.
Culture is then making those changes no matter how hard they are to help extend the life of your company. Culture is saying to an employee “take the time you need, we are here for you now and will be here for you when you are ready to come back.”
My husband has been battling Cancer since January 2020. Each day is different. He was only given 6 months in the beginning, and he has now lived over 30 months. I know it is because I have been here for him. I am lucky to have the ability to spend the days and nights I need to with him. I am lucky to have held his hand, in good times and in bad.
I am lucky we have been able to pay bills, travel, and make memories over these years. I will continue my personal fight for us to live the life we envisioned for each other. This is the culture I believe in!
Meet the Author
Bernadette B. (She/Her)
CRO l Best Selling Author l Professional Speaker l Goal-driven revenue builder l Sales Expert l Business Development l Chapter Director l Board Member l My clients want to improve the sales process l