My family sells bridges. Real ones. The kind you drive your car over. This is where I come from.
My dad was an engineer. When he and my mother first got married, he was working at a company that manufactured bridge parts. Several issues with authority later, he struck out to start his own small bridge sales firm (“small” meaning the kind that goes over the sort of river you would swim in). When a town’s bridge needed replacement, my dad showed up to evaluate the situation, give them a quote, oversee the transaction, and take a commission. The company was called Dopp & Dopp Associates.
Meanwhile, my mother started a sister company called Bridge Pro, where she sold parts to large bridges (“large” meaning the kind that goes over the sort of river you would drown in). She was, of course, the only woman in the industry. Combined, my parents dominated the entire east coast in bridge sales.
Major perks: Both of my parents worked from home while I was growing up, and they let me play on their 40 MB hard drive Macintosh Classics. I was installing software when I was three.
Major downsides: Every time we drove by a bridge we had to stop and look at it. Vacations and business trips had little division between them.
Time went on and my dad was diagnosed with a terminal illness. He passed his business to his brother before he died, and Dopp & Dopp is alive and well today. My mother remarried to the man who builds the bridges, so this means my step-father is the owner of a bridge construction company. Having exhausted her interest in bridge work, my mother finally traded in her galvanized steel sampler packs to become a minister.
I was told all my life that I was going to become an engineer and take over the family business. When I refused, they compromised, and said I would go into marketing and take over the family business. I refused this notion, too.
Recently, it dawned on me that I did go into marketing. And some of the work I do is considered engineering. And all of my vacations are business trips.
But the icing on the cake? I was hanging out with Deb Schultz recently — a fellow social media consultant — and she brilliantly summed exactly what we do:
“We’re connectors. We seek out people who are different from us. We’re bridge people.”