Women are determined to enter the avenues
of business, and the tendency of the times is
to force them there whether they will or no.
Before real continued success can come to a
woman in any self-supporting realm, she must have
several things of which she seems unconscious to-
I fear it is the exceptional business woman who
has a realization of the necessity of paying her
bills promptly and of having her word as good as her
note in money matters.
I shall never forget the mortification I felt for
sex once upon a time, when in a strange place,
away from my home, I gave the name of a well-
known business woman as reference in a financial
matter. I knew of her as a most ambitious and
seemingly successful business woman, and was
astonished to be told that her note was not consid-
ered of any value, and that in her own town she
could not obtain credit because it was so difficult to
collect bills when due.
Afterward I heard the woman bemoan the cruelty
of the world toward a woman who tried to make
her own way.
Of course, our sex has not been accustomed to
assume large responsibilities, and it is difficult to
grasp the situation at once. We have been for cen-
turies the recipients of the gallant attentions or
tyrannical espionage of men, and to become their
associates in business is quite another matter.
But since woman has entered upon this field, let
her keep her shield bright and her sword sharp and
her sense of humor keen.
Another point to be observed is the necessity to
epitomize her ideas and curtail her words in busi-
ness conversation. One of woman's greatest hin-
drances to success is her loquaciousness.
The woman who places any value on the worth
of her own time or that of another, and displays it
by encouraging both, is worthy of a gold medal, so
unusual a specimen is she.
every word we utter means an expenditure of a
certain amount of vital force; yet women waste
this force as recklessly as if it were dross, instead of
They talk above, below and around the point at
issue, using ten phrases to express what could be
better said in one.
Woman's conception of the importance and value
of time is conveyed in a smiling "I know you are
awfully busy, and I fear I am trespassing upon
your time," while she immediately proceeds to talk
for another half-hour upon something which has
nothing to do with the purpose of her call.
In social life, the woman who flits from topic to
topic like a butterfly from flower to flower is de-
lightful. She rests, entertains, amuses and often
instructs her listeners.
The woman who is too serious and one-ideaed in
social life is worse, if anything, than the one who is
too profuse and diffusive in business.
But the two realms are extremes, and then
methods should be.
This seems to be the point which she finds diffi-
cult to realize.
It is the exceptional man who goes into a busy
office or study and takes half an hour to do his
It is the exceptional woman who takes less.
With all woman's desire to be unselfish, and
despite the foundation of unselfishness upon which
her nature is built, she is thoughtless and inconsid-
erate by her wasteful verbosity, as a rule, in busi-
The woman who is direct, concise and expedi-
tious in her methods is as unusual as a white black-
She seldom lacks employment. This quality
dispatch is one of the fundamental laws of success;
and nothing reaches a man's business heart sooner
than a delicate consideration of the great value of
his time and an indication that your own, as well,
is worth conserving.
To every woman or girl who is about to seek in-
fluence, advice or a position, I offer this counsel.
Before you set forth on your errand, think out
clearly what you want.
Then think of a few concise sentences by which
you may express your wish.
Keep to your point. Do not tell the story
life or describe your genealogical descent from
William the Conqueror to the man you hope will
give you employment.
Do not tell him your family history, nor the
reasons why you need employment.
Talk about the subject which called you into his
presence, and talk with directness and fluency, and
get done with it, and go away.
If you do not win the man's patronage, you will
at least win his respect and gratitude.
And you will have saved your own time and
nerve force for other occasions.
Every-day thoughts in prose and verse. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
Chicago: W. B. Conkey Company, 1901.