My dear friend Gabrielle wrote on my Facebook page recently the most lovely compliment: “One of the things I love about you is we bloom around you; we love ourselves – and have the most fun being who we are in your presence.” Honestly, I just swooned at that one!

It is such a high compliment because it is confirmation that what I intend to do in life is working. I WANT to make people feel comfortable enough to be themselves! I want them to drop the pretense, to let go of the “shoulds” and relax into just being themselves! It is SO much more fun that way!

Which reminds me of my birthday many years ago…

I was working at IBM in the office of the site General Manager of one of IBM’s manufacturing plant. It was secretarial work, something that was not necessarily my most favorite thing (see my previous blog on that topic). Besides that, I was working for a very self-sufficient gentleman. He had two secretaries – one, who was EXTREMELY efficient, and then me. I was bored a lot of the time.

One of my jobs was to get the conference room ready for visiting dignitaries from around the corporation. You know, making it look nice and making sure it was stocked with what was needed. It was also my mission in life to make the very efficient and very professional General Manager laugh. I knew that underneath it all, he was a very nice man and I wanted him to let that actual person side come out.

It was about a week before my birthday. Being bored, with said mission in mind, every day starting a week before my birthday, I would write on the flip chart in the executive conference room a countdown of how many days until my birthday. First couple of days, nothing. Then there were eye rolls. And the expectation that the next day would have the update. But still, no one actually said anything to me.

And then, at 12:00am on the day of my birthday, my phone rings. Those were the days prior to cellphones, where you actually had to get out of bed to answer it. And because there were also no answering machines and it would have just rung and rung. Sleepily I answered, “Hello?”.

The voice on the other side said, “Is this Janet?”

Warily I say “yes….”

The voice says, “This is the security department at IBM. The General Manager has asked us to call and wish you a happy birthday.”

I cracked up and went back to bed.

They called again at 1am, 2am, 3am and 4am with the same message. When I got to work that day, the General Manager looked at me and said “Oh, happy birthday. Are you having a good day so far?” And then winked, smiled and walked away.

Mission accomplished.