Coffee please.

I was attending a meeting at an Executive Briefing Center. My role was to
present on a topic to the attendees so that they could think differently
about business strategy using Experience Design, as I was at that time the
organization's thought leader on the topic and the Manager for the
Experience Design team. People were arriving for the meeting, and I am
naturally a person who does things like open doors for people, so I opened
the door for one of the executives who had just arrived. As he passed me,
he put his hand on my shoulder and with a smile said, "When you get a
chance, I'll take a coffee." Obviously, he didn't see the coffee at the
back of the room for the attendees, or, maybe he didn't know how to pour it
-those buttons can certainly be confusing! ;-)

I looked at him, smiled, and said, "Would you like sugar or cream with
that?" "No, no. Black's fine," he responded.

I got him his coffee. Then, as the meeting was starting I took my seat.
The organizer stood up, kicked off the meeting, and introduced me as a
thought leader. I stood up, looked around the room saying hello to
everyone, fixed my eyes directly on the "coffee-guys" face, who, at this
point had his cup in hand and mouth wide open, and I said, "How's that
coffee; do you need anything else? Maybe I can get you some biscuits to go
with that?" I smiled, then proceeded with my presentation. Now, mostly
that's just my kind of humor, but I have never forgotten the moment. The
look on his face was priceless. Reflecting on this moment, got us talking
about diversity and my thoughts as a woman in this line of business.

My mentor asked me, "How were you not angry that he totally assumed that
you were not an attendee at the meeting? How were you able to get him the
coffee and not tell him to get it himself?" I said quite simply, "Because
I have 3 key beliefs in my arsenal against such biases: knowledge,
understanding and confidence, and I work hard to continuously develop them
all."

- Sarah Deane