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The Fairy God Mentor, Chapter 1: Optics

This chapter pairs best with spiked green tea lemonade and Beyonce's B'Day Deluxe album.

3:45pm, SoHo, NYC.

“What do you think? The black cat eyeglasses or the tortoise shell rims? Which one says, I’m an angel investor that may have donated half of my net worth to charity – but that doesn’t make me a pansy you can walk all over,” Petra wondered out loud.

“You asked me to meet you at the optometrist for style advice?” said Elle.

“No, ironically, I brought you here to talk optics. I need a sounding board for a consulting client,” Petra retorted.

Ms Petra Khari was a consultant, investor, and former founder of a software company that names and organizes all of your digital files on your behalf  –  like Marie Kondo for your desktop. Although, strangely, she prefers to write all of her notes by hand and file them away in a bookshelf. The company, aptly called Maed (the trendy SaaS misspelling for Maid), sold to Microsoft four years ago for $600 million.

“Ok, hit me.” Elle said excitedly.

“In 2021, public perception matters  –  in some cases as much as your product. You have to proactively mitigate risk or cancel culture will eat you up and spit you out. What was just another day at the office 50 years ago is now front page material,” Petra said, trying on another pair of frames.

“My client is on the board of Dapper Brands  –  they own basically every bottom shelf liquor in your mini bar. Dapper wants an industry and competitive analysis to inform their crisis management strategy. Will you look into this for me if you get a chance? I’ll have Jemma install anything you need on your end . Let me know if you want a bigger monitor too; that 13 inch isn’t going to cut it." Petra said, glancing over a pair of aviator lenses.

"And I can get you an intro. I’m sure the client would love to meet the talented strategist behind the reporting.”

Elle could feel her cheeks flush. Data energized her. It was like decrypting a secret map to revenue growth. She felt like a corporate spy. And she didn’t get this much responsibility at her day job – her analyses rarely affected the trajectory of the business.

“You know I want to spearhead this more than anything!” Elle said, trying to conceal her enthusiasm.

“But can I ask you something?…. Why are you always helping me? Like, what’s in it for you?”

Petra smiled.

“Elle, there’s a good way to be successful and there's a bad way. There are real rich people and there are fake rich people. And when you’re navigating this world you MUST be able to differentiate between the two. You want to be one of the good ones don’t you?” Petra asked.

“Yes,” Elle said, nodding.

“So, you help people. You help people who are kind, empathetic, ambitious  –  who have the potential to make a positive impact and are driven to do so. That’s what I do,” Petra said.

Elle's lips formed a slight smile. She had difficulty believing praise. You would think that someone like Petra complimenting her would strengthen her confidence. But somehow praise didn’t seem to infiltrate her sense of self. It was rarely processed into confidence.

“I’ve got to go !  I’m late for my next client,” Petra announced.

“Time is money, P. You know before I met you it was unfathomable that someone could make five figures in an hour. My mom never made more than 50k a year as a political science teacher. You make that in a day,” Elle said.

"You'll get there, too." Petra assured as she slung her jacket on and disappeared into the cobble stone street.

Somehow, Elle believed her.

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