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Hello MT Family,

BLUF: What to say when I am speaking at an event and the organizer makes a "joking" comment that is totally inappropriate and sexually suggestive in front of the entire audience?

At the end of my presentation, during Q&A, the organizer said: "Hey, how about in 6 months, you come back and present and entertain us in your bikini and heels".

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Today, I was speaking to a group of 24 execs at a networking breakfast. These execs are also startup investors. I was asked to spend 15 minutes and:

  1. Introduce myself, my background in enterprise software sales
  2. Describe the fitness app that I'm working on and
  3. Share what I'm learning while working with my coach from my startup incubator.

For context - My fitness app relates to the sport of bodybuilding and the art of posing. I compete in the Bikini division. For this presentation, I was wearing my Brooks Brothers standard navy pinstripe skirt suit and pale blue merino sweater.

At the end of my presentation, during Q&A, the organizer said: "Hey, how about in 6 months, you come back and present and entertain us in your bikini and heels".

I was so stunned that I just smiled and laughed it off saying "haha, sure" and continued with the Q&A by acknowledging the next person's question and just moving on.

Several people came up to me after the presentation saying how inappropriate it was. I told them that everyone makes stupid comments sometimes and we have to assume positive intent and just let it roll off our backs.

Now, I'm mad. His comment was disrespectful and I wish I had responded differently. What is the appropriate response in the heat of the moment? I understand most people outside of the sport of bodybuilding just see the skin aspect of it and don't appreciate the discipline and years of hard work it takes to build a physique.

I wish I had said something like: "Ha, how about in 6 months, I'll be back showing you how I grew my revenue by 30% and am on track to double it by the end of the year."

What is the appropriate response here? Clearly, I have no interest in doing business with the person whatsoever. I'm just mad I didn't have a good response.

Thank you for listening!

mmcconkie's picture

I'm sorry that the event organizer made such an inappropriate comment. I don't have a recommendation as to what to say. I am just taken aback that he would say something like that. It is totally reasonable for you to be mad. I wish I had a recommendation for you, but I don't know what I'd recommend in that situation. 

Sorry,

mmcconkie

TSY1512's picture

Thank you. I appreciate your message and support!

NLewis's picture

Imagine how good it's going to feel when your app takes off and you're not taking their calls. 

I am so sorry that you had to go through this.  You did the best you could in the moment.  If it was me I'd move on and not do business with them again.  Perhaps even name them to my network.  If that comment is indicative of their typical behavior then people should know to avoid them.  You could keep someone else from facing a similar situation.

(Cold consolation perhaps but we've all been there to one degree or another.  "The jerk store called and they're running out of you."  )

TSY1512's picture

I sincerely appreciate you taking the time to respond! I apologize I am just seeing it now! You're so right and your comment about "the jerk store" made me chuckle! Thank you for putting a smile on my face. I have moved on from that group and in a recap discussion with my mentor; he was also absolutely repulsed by the comment. Next time, I will redirect to focus on something like "Ha, in 6 months, I'll be back showing you how I grew revenue by 30%". His comment says everything about him. I don't need to add to it. Thanks again for taking the time to comment!

NYC Girl's picture

First of all, congrats on all of your accomplishments! I've got girlfriends who are bodybuilders and it's no small feat. You're also launching your own app? That's amazing! You've got lots to be proud of. 

In that context: yeah, this guy was yucky and I'm sorry you dealt with that. I've had similar comments made (I work in tech). At the end of the day, as Jay-Z says, "go on and brush ya shoulders off." He's a jerk; you handled it as best you could without lowering yourself to his level. You did fine!  Don't beat yourself up or think too much about what you "could've said." That's wasting more of your precious energy on someone who so obviously doesn't deserve it.

Sounds like you responded with as much grace and poise as you could muster given his awful behavior.  Look at it this way: next time someone makes a similar remark, you'll have a snappy comeback (if you're not caught off guard again). You can do it next time. Nobody is EVER prepared for someone saying something awful. And he just showed an entire room full of people that he's small minded and insecure. Let him have it! You're better than that. You're not him. Be grateful for it.

You sound like an amazing and accomplished person. Jerks will always exist; just ask any YouTuber or celebrity who gets nonstop hate comments. That's their ugly burden to bear; just keep climbing and rising above like you already are. 

TSY1512's picture

Thank you for taking the time to respond. And, thank you very much for the kind words! I apologize I am just seeing it now! I'm re-reading everything a few weeks later today and I appreciate your perspective even more!

I love the Jay-z reference! It's all about swagger, right? Ha! And yes; I'll be ready next time. I love what you wrote about  "Let him have it. You're not him". It goes perfectly with a quote from another coach of mine who says "I'm not you".

In the meantime, I've got work to do! I love health, fitness and tech; so I'm building a life I love around them.

Thanks again!