I’ll Call Her Gladys (Demise of a Family Business)

January 15, 2013

I had a business article published last week in Family Business Magazine, called “Business Family vs. Family Business.” It was a decidedly professional piece, aimed at furthering my perceived expertise in this arena among business owners.

However. Since it is  Poetry at Work Day, I thought it might be interesting to take that article and transpose those same “work” words of mine into another vehicle entirely: poetry. In doing this, I am totally stealing Megan’s and LL Barkat’s idea of breaking “normal” prose into lines, except using my own boring material rather than someone else’s. (In reading it, I think it would help to listen to an inspiring chorus.)

Here goes:



I recently met a woman –

I’ll call her Gladys –

who owns a substantial enterprise.

The only problem?

The business has been

consistently unprofitable.

She keeps it afloat

by infusing her own money,

to the tune of

several hundred thousand dollars

for each of the past four


“How long can you keep that up?”

I asked

as we sat

at a local café.

She shook her head

and stared down into

her empty cappuccino cup.

“Not much longer,”

she said with a sigh.

“But things will turn around soon.”

Gladys, it turns out,

is so overly identified

with her business

that she can’t bear to face

the harsh reality

of her unraveling


Markets have shifted,

the competition is fierce

and her company’s once-sought-after services

have morphed into

a “so what?” commodity.

Instead of doing what’s necessary,

she’d rather maintain a façade

of smooth sailing,

with a chins-up,

“We’ll try harder next month”


She is more concerned with

the safety and protection

of her inner circle

than with facing

the hard business issues


We may cluck our tongues

in disapproval over

Gladys’s eccentric denial,

but her situation is really

not so different

from that of any other

family business in which

relationships, tradition or comfort

are put above

the best interests

of the business.

It just may not look

so desperate.



3 Responses to “I’ll Call Her Gladys (Demise of a Family Business)”

  1. davis said

    it works
    for poetry
    at work

  2. You’ve brought a whole new meaning to Poetry at Work Day.

    But it makes me think about how I write people’s stories. Is there poetry between the words?

  3. llbarkat said

    oh, i *love* this! 🙂

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