Hubs and I spent the end of the summer at the Jersey shore.
It's fun for us to stay at the beach instead of in San Antonio, where the August heat is incredibly unforgiving.
So, we stroll into a cute local breakfast café in Point Pleasant, New Jersey.
It's our 3rd visit to the restaurant in a week.
We’re practically "regulars." The workers recognize us. 🤣
We like them…and the fact that there are no breakfast tacos. Nope.
In Jersey, we get pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches, and bagels with a schmear.
As we're paying the check, the woman we've seen every day behind the counter strikes up a friendly conversation.
I tell her we love the place.
I curiously ask if she's the owner.
Her response floors us. 😮
"Oh, no, I'm just the manager," she says with downcast eyes and a slight chuckle.
Hubs and I quickly glare at one another.
At the same time, we say: JUST??!!
I learned about this word—JUST— while on a summer break during college. It changed my life…and I know it will change yours, too.
I'm on summer break from college in Connecticut. I'm back home in New Jersey, 19 years old.
I land a job at CQ Answering Service.
It stood for Courtesy and Quality.
CQ had old-style, outdated switchboards like the ones you see on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel or I Love Lucy.
There are four boards; each has 100 phone lines.
One operator per board, sitting side-by-side. Answering phones for doctor's offices, clinics, home contractors, offices, and funeral homes.
It was Gossip Central.
Busy. Chaotic. Frenzied.
Keep in mind, there are no computers or even word processors. We’re scribbling messages with pen and paper.
Luckily all the phones didn't ring at once, but things did get wacky.
Each operator would "plug into" the ringing phone line, answer with a personalized greeting, and take messages.
This is where I learned about JUST—the most important four-letter word I know.
On the first day of training, the owner introduced me to Marcy, a CQ veteran. 🙌🏻
Marcy looked like Jaclyn Smith from Charlie's Angels, or for younger peeps, think of actress Sofia Vergara…a flawless face, long brown wavy hair, and a stunning figure.
Marcy and I knew each other from high school.
We were really good at hanging out. 😎
Now, I could hold my own, but Marcy was running with a tough crowd.
Neither of us were much on social graces. We shoot one another a quick nod with the chin and a raised eyebrow.
An almost warm greeting that others may mistake for "Hello."
Marcy's parading around CQ's tiny office in high-heel clogs like it's nobody's business.
A cigarette dangles from her lips as she's getting ready to start her shift.
The owner tells me: "Train with Marcy today so you can see how she 'handles the callers.’"
I have no clue what this means. 👀
But Marcy and I settle in with our headsets; I'm ready to eavesdrop on her calls.
We make small talk.
Marcy's smoking and filing her nails.
It's just after 5 o'clock, so the phones are starting to get busy. Offices are closing, and workers are forwarding the phones to us for the night.
No voicemail or answering machines back then.
We are it.
A line for a doctor's office rings.
Marcy plugs in, and with her best sing-song voice, she says: "Doctor's answering service."
The woman on the other end is clearly annoyed. We hear a disappointed loud sigh and a shrill voice.
The woman asks: "Is this the office?"
Marcy—still filing her nails and smoking—replies, "No ma'am, it's the answering service."
We hear another irritated groan; "The office isn't open?" 😒
Marcy says: "No, ma'am, it's the service; the doctor will be back tomorrow morning at 9."
The woman says: "Oh, so you're JUST the answering service?"
Everything comes to a screeching halt.
Marcy put the nail file down.
She takes the cigarette out of her mouth.
She looks up. She flings her shoulders back.
And she sharply says: "Ma'am, I'm not JUST the answering service. I AM the answering service. You can call back tomorrow at 9 when the office opens."
With that, Marcy's perfectly manicured hand reaches over, pulls the plug, and disconnects the caller.😨
Marcy turns to me and says, "Don't ever let anybody ever tell you that you're JUST anything."
There's a stinging silence.
And in that moment, I learned more at CQ Answering Service than I did in an entire semester in college. 📕
You see, JUST is a very belittling four-letter word.
Marcy wanted no part of it.
And neither did I.
Fast forward from CQ to the breakfast café at the beach.
The manager, who unknowingly told hubs and me that she's JUST the manager, gets a quick confidence boost from us.
"You're not JUST the manager; you ARE the manager. And we think you're doing a helluva job here!"
We all smile and relax. 😍
Do you unknowingly introduce yourself in a demeaning way as JUST an entrepreneur?
JUST a mom?
JUST a coach?
YOU ARE (fill in the blank).
📢You are valued, talented, and worthy.
How dare you introduce yourself as anything less than.
It’s not about being arrogant or obnoxious.
It's about YOU having PRIDE in your 🥇accomplishments.🥇
Own your words and introduction.
Set the tone so that others will give you the respect you deserve.
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