I’m walking down Prince Street yesterday having just come out of the dentists office, where my dental hygienist sub, not my usual Theresa, must have been having a really bad day. My mouth felt like a HAZMAT truck had made a wrong turn and landed there. Besides that I’d just spent $40 to deep condition my hair and now it was drizzling out and my hair did not seem to care that I’d just dropped $40. I could feel it rising Medusa-like like about to encircle my head in a halo of frizz. What the heck?
I suddenly sense eyes on me. Glancing up my eyes meet the eyes of a very attractive woman , approximately my age-or perhaps she skewed a little younger, walking towards me. Eyes meet. Head tilts, I squint, and a vaguely familiar voice rings out in a nasally twang. “Suzen Gluck”? I squint. “Suzen Gluck? Jessica! Jessica Moonbaum !” (Names have been changed to either protect privacy or to seek vengeance. You choose)
Oh, euwwww. Feelings of severe panic.
Anyone who has ever seen the movie “Mean Girls, or “Carrie” will relate to this moment. This former nasty girl, current middle-aged woman was to me the Rachel McAdams to my Lindsay Lohan (Mean Girls) or in Carrie terms, the Nancy Allen to my Cissy Spacek. Ok, maybe it wasn’t quite that dramatic, but I’d felt that way for many mornings between 7th and 9th grade as I’d ascend the school bus, and, having to pass the group of snarly girls, led by “Jessica Moonbaum” was forced to listen to the rhythmic chanting of a variation of my last name, which sadly, rhymed with a certain 4 letter word. Every morning. Most afternoons. For no apparent reason other than torment for torments sake. You remember those girls.
So you can imagine my sheer joy running into this formal female Bin Laden 30 some odd years later in the middle of Manhattan, throbbing teeth and hair a–risin’. There was no escape at this point, as our eyes had already met and she was heading my way, in order to, I was sure, trip me with her stunning Manola Blahniks, and then step on my head with said designer shoe right there in the middle of the sidewalk.
Funny thing was, she was acting mighty excited and interested in what the last 30 years had brought me, or maybe it was just like watching road kill, I thought; you don’t want to look but you just can’t help it. Aghast, I heard myself agreeing to coffee around the corner, even though I was screaming obscenities of my own in my head and I really DID have to make a train.
As I sat and listened to her talk about her world of editing a well-known architectural publication, I couldn’t help but stare. What happened to that nasty haunted look in her eyes, to the screechy ‘I flip everyone including my English teacher the bird’ attitude? Where was the ‘I walk like a guy just back from a week at the dude ranch so no one will get in my way’ gait? Where were the off kilter buck teeth, and where, oh where was the badass attitude? Hadn’t she flunked out of school? And why was she asking me questions about my life that she sincerely seemed to want answers to? This creature was the epitome of dress for success style and grace, and wreaked of “I’ve made it and so can you” attitude. Well this was different!
At first, I sooooo badly wanted to ask her if she understood the real impact her years of torment had taken on my already awkward pre-teen life. But I didn’t. The truth is, I really didn’t want to hear her reasons. I’d moved on, grown up and eventually stopped caring. And the other, more interesting truth? It seems as though old Jessica really had changed. Grown up herself. Gotten wiser. Lost the “greaser” label she’d so proudly worn, probably to hide her own set of insecurities in 7th grade. Not only had she lost this persona, it seems as though she’d completely re-branded herself. And owned who knows how many pair of killer Manola’s. Well good for her.
Here’s the marketing take away:
- It’s never too late to re-brand. When something is not working, change it
- Image is key
- Dress for success and dress your part. #7 in Brian Tracy’s 10 Steps to Increasing Your Probability of Success: If you imagine and play the part of who you want to be, there is a much higher probability of you becoming that person