How Mary Kay Ash Taught Us to Lead Even When Everything Goes Wrong

12-12-2016 8:47 AM

I specifically remember two times when Mary Kay Ash showed all of us how to be a great leader.

Fringe on Fire!

We went to a beautiful Christmas party at my National Sales Director’s home. This was truly a star-studded affair at Dalene White’s beautiful home. She even had a large tent at the back of her home to hold the overflow.

White tablecloths graced the tables. Waiters wore tuxedos as they served. Everyone dressed in their best evening clothes. Mary Kay Ash looked elegant in her white evening gown with a western flair with fringe on the sleeves.

Everything looked just beautiful. We all held hands during the prayer. A perfect start to the night.

Afterward, my daughter, Robin, ran up to Mary Kay to have a little chit chat with her as we went through the buffet. All of the sudden, I saw sparks and a little smoke coming up from our plates.

That was when I realized the fringe on Mary Kay’s sleeve was on fire. The fringe must have gotten caught on a candle or something.

Robin screamed: “Mary Kay is on fire!”

As people scurried from everywhere to get the fire out, Mary Kay remained calm, cool and collected.

After the fire was put out, Mary Kay looked over at Robin and very calm asked for a cup of coffee.

Robin agreed but said, “Oh, Mary Kay, your outfit is ruined.”

Mary Kay’s response: “Oh no big deal. I’ll just get some scissors and cut that fringe off. I’ll wear it anyway.”

I thought about Mary Kay’s reaction. A lot of people would have let that ruin their entire night or week. But it didn’t matter to Mary Kay. She dusted herself off and went on. She actually practiced what you she taught us.

She turned lemons into lemonade.

Shock and Awe on the Seminar Stage

And that’s not the only time. I remember a Seminar when she had a shoulder problem. She couldn’t use her arm and had people help dress her. They put her on a golf cart and rolled her onto the stage.

The crowd cheered and took pictures as Mary Kay made her grand entrance. And just as she stepped onto the stage, her skirt dropped to the floor.

There she stood in her panty hose and girdle — in front of thousands of people.

People ran from all sides of the stage to pull up her skirt. The audience sat in shock. And then Mary Kay got to the podium and calmly spoke these words: “How’s that for an entrance?”

Everyone roared with laughter. She could have become flustered or embarrassed. But she stayed on purpose. She was there to educate, inspire and motivate the audience that bad things can happen to good people. And we must choose how we respond.

She taught us a big lesson that day on pressing on!

JoAnn Blackmon, Independent National Sales Director Emeritus