Cliff and I faced buying a new car recently. We drove several and talked with the salesman. When things started sounding serious, he called in the money person. She presented options. The conversation finally ended.

He handed us his business card.

She scribbled her phone number on a post-it note.

Over several days, Cliff called both of them with questions. They were equally friendly and knowledgeable. The paperwork began. When we returned to sign, we didn’t see him at all. We sat in her office: Holly Brownell, Finance Manager.

I remained silent until the last T was crossed.

Then I leaned across her desk and said, “Holly, here’s the most important thing to me. You need business cards, and you need them now.”

She froze.

I explained that for someone with her title, a colored paper square did not inspire confidence and made her seem slipshod. An after thought. It was an unspoken indictment of professionalism.

I asked her to realize the message she was sending, not only to adults, but to children sitting in her office with their parents. It showed a boy that women did not qualify for the same status–especially in an environment where all the men had cards. It showed girls they had no right to expect the same privileges. They could aspire to the title but not the respect.

A business card, all 2 x 3.5 inches, confirms equal status.

It forces the point.

The dreams of children begin with something small, something tangible. Who can say what little girl will be inspired as a woman pulls that bright card from the drawer?

Holly understood and said she’d get right on it. “And I expect you to send me one,” I said as I left her office. She did, too. She told me she was proud to have them and said, “It’s because of you, Karen.”

That’s the charge for all women. To rally, to advocate, to challenge, to cheer each other on. We have a collective mission. Not every success is played out in mile-high venues. But each inch forward expands the reward column. Nothing that supports women is insignificant.

The powerful proverb “For want of a nail” illustrates the value of small, necessary things.

Nails count.

So does every Holly.    

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