I’ve had a successful career in advertising for going on two decades even though the industry is a breeding ground for bitches. Controlling, bossy, ambitious, stop-at-nothing, intolerable bitches. But now I’d had enough and I quit.
“Talk about the kettle calling the pot black,” my friend said, dismissing my bitch excuse for quitting my job at a San Francisco agency.
I gasped and sputtered, “Are you calling me a bitch?”
“We’re both bitches,” she said proudly. “It’s why we’re successful. Remember that line from Madonna—’I’m tough, I’m ambitious, and I know exactly what I want. If that makes me a bitch, okay.’”
Yeah, I remember that line and yeah, maybe it had gone to my head. But in my defense, no one until now had ever called me a bitch. What if my friend was right. What if I was the bitch?
Bernadette had rocketed to the top of her organization, “lashing out, venting, condescending people, disrespecting them, and being a bitch to anyone who crossed my path,” as she put it. Then after decades of high performance, she was let go.
Her story was like hearing an echo. Except in Bernadette’s case, she spent years in bitch recovery. When she emerged, she built a process, brand, and enterprise around helping people “shed their bitch to find the rich.” (You can learn more at SheddingTheBitch.com. Order the book here.)
“I was the ‘bitch of bitches’,” said Bernadette. “But I came to see that my bitchiness was a cover-up for my insecurity. I didn’t believe in my own competence, skills, or talents. That’s why I teach that the starting place for shedding the bitch is discovering your skills talents and accomplishment, or your riches.”
Now this emphasis on women taking responsibility for their bitch isn’t to say that Bernadette doesn’t understand the corporate pressures that can cause a smart, competent woman to stop believing in herself and to compensate by trying to ‘man up’ and get into the old boys club. How could she forget what she’d lived for years? Still, she says, we always have a choice. If Virginia Rometty making it as the ninth CEO in IBM’s history and its first female chief exec is any indication, I’d say Bernadette was onto something.
“I’ve been following Rometty closely,” said Bernadette. “From what I can tell, she didn’t get to the top by being a bitch. She’s strong, confident, assertive, dedicated, and dignified. She took risks, trusted in herself, and leveraged all her skills and talents to pursue her dreams and goals not just for herself, but for the greater good.”
Rometty: CEO of IBM. Me: unemployed. There is, as they say, no arguing with success. Which brings me to the obvious. Yup, it’s time to shed the bitch. I got a feeling, no one’s going to miss her.