The Mighty Morphin’ Monopoly Mogul
Transforming with Confidence
As a kid, I loved playing Monopoly. I especially loved being the banker, a role I commandeered more often than not. Maybe it had to do with being the oldest of three siblings. Or being a little bossy. Either way, no one was surprised when I chose to study business in college and major in finance.
It made sense. All through public school, I was the one who handled the money and managed the books for social organizations, theatrical productions, and fundraising efforts. I also took a lot of pride in saving the money I earned babysitting, watching the numbers grow in my savings account. Earmarked for college, of course.
Let me say straight out that babysitting back then was NOT as lucrative as it is today for my daughter. I started at 50 cents an hour, and topped out at $1.50 an hour for New Year’s. Usually that included watching three kids AND a big dog, feeding everyone, cleaning up, bathing the kids, and putting them to bed. Babysitting pay was well below the minimum wage. Fast forward to today. My daughter says that some families are more than happy to shell out $20 an hour for her to watch one sleeping baby while she does her homework. Way above minimum wage, not to mention an easy-peasy job. Sheesh. I was born too early, methinks.
So, yes, business was a natural field for me. My parents agreed, with my dad pushing studies in computer science as a possible career choice. Actually, they were more than a little relieved, as my first choice since early childhood was to be an actress. And it was fun teasing them throughout my school years that this indeed was what I was going to do. I loved acting – hey, I performed in plays throughout school and my early adult years, and I’m pursuing it now full-time – but back then, I knew I really wanted to start off with a business career. The Monopoly banker in me wanted to make sure that I could actually make an independent living right from the start. Having a corporate ladder to climb suited me pretty well, too.
I studied quite a bit of computer science, but my sweet spot – and where I made my career - was where IT intersected business, solving both everyday and long-term strategic problems.
The really techie, hands-on stuff wasn’t for me. I figured that out pretty fast when I took a class in Assembler, a computer language that a techie friend later described me as akin to programming on bare metal. Feeding a stack of punched cards to the computer at 2 am in the basement of the engineering building just didn’t cut it. Especially when I had to run the stack again and again because a single, teeny-tiny typo would kick out the entire job after 20 minutes of processing and I’d have to start all over again. Aarggh. If I had to be up and about in the middle of the night, hanging out in the computer lab was not where I wanted to be.
These courses, however, set me apart from most business students and launched me into a pretty good career in IT. And I found myself transforming from student to employee, finance major to, well….
The Monopoly banker turned cyborg. Finance meshed with computer science and applied statistics and, before I knew it, I was churning out solutions to financial and engineering problems with computer assistance. A few years later, deciding I needed more human interaction and less time sitting at a desk, the cyborg morphed into a technical sales and marketing rep. “Power suit” included. (Translation: a killer marketing suit, usually a tailored red jacket with some shoulder padding, accompanying a narrow and preferably short skirt. “Power” was a thing at the time. Power software, power marketing, power this, power that. It was as ubiquitous a business word as “solution,” as in “we have a solution to every problem under the sun.”)
The biggest transformation in corporate and personal identity was still to come. Years (and a wedding dress) later, I morphed into a mommy. Suddenly, after one look at baby, I found myself compelled to reverse course from the corporate climbing Type A exec and become a stay-at-home mom. Something I never thought I’d choose to do. In my field and at that time, there was no part-time work option.
It’s funny how you discover things about yourself as you move through life. Priorities shift, your focus changes. When I became a mom, I came squarely face to face with the realization that I wanted – no needed - to be with my growing family and not miss my kids’ childhood milestones by being off on some business trip.
As those priorities changed, skill sets were reshuffled and used in different ways. Sure, I added all sorts of new skills: cleaning up baby after some truly impressive diaper blowouts (up the back, down the legs – how do they DO that??!).
Managing five things at once on two hours of sleep. Impersonating Elsie the Cow when I was hooked up to that breast pump. (Sorry, guys. TMI.) My inner business woman kept everything in order and enjoyed being efficient with her time, like paying the bills while nursing. And, of course, those diapers were really very nicely stacked. And talents that had been playing only small supporting roles in my business career started to emerge front and center.
I’m talking creativity, like the kind enjoyed as a child. For me, before and during my Monopoly years, that was performing, writing, music, and art work. I’d always been creative, though it ended up taking a back seat to practicality. But those dedicated mommy years leaned on those creative skills to teach, entertain, and guide my kids as they discovered their own talents and special interests. And they paved the way for morphing from mommy to artist and entrepreneur; my transformation into an actress and voiceover talent.
Ever feel like you’ve come full circle in life? I do, from creative little kid to ambitious corporate gal, and now to performing artist. Every change incorporated what came before, though different facets of my personality came to the forefront as my primary role in life changed. Skills and talents that I leaned on heavily before are now just applied in different measures and in different ways.
Now, instead of using my creative inclinations to support a business career, it’s flipped. All that business know-how supports my acting and VO work. I bring in my sales and sometimes techie persona when I narrate corporate and training videos. They come out to play in TV, film, commercials, and industrials when I’m cast in strong, take-charge roles, like business and medical professionals, attorneys, and tough, protective mama bears. And those dedicated mommy years provide the flipside: caring, nurturing, and emotionally-driven characters for both VO and on-camera work.
We assume different roles as we move through life, but they just build on one another, creating layers that form a more and more interesting person. (At least we hope so!) They never go away. They just morph from one thing to another and occasionally merge to become something new.
I’ll always be the mom.
Even the pint-sized Monopoly banker.
Yup, she’s still right here, actively keeping an eye on things. I’m the money manager in my household and the keeper of the family ATM. At least as far as my husband is concerned, who likes to call it “getting his allowance.” He may think I’m just catering to him and his need for easily available cash. But, according to my 10 year old self, it’s the Monopoly banker who’s really calling the shots.
Just don’t tell him that.
He doesn’t read my blogs.