I don’t know Frances Bridges. But I feel like I do.
She went to Purdue. My whole family went to Purdue.
She studied English literature and communications. I studied creative writing and public relations.
She graduated in 2010. I graduated in 2009. We both struggled through the same recessionary job hunt.
LinkedIn tells me she’s a third-level connection. I know people who know people who know her, in other words. I think that’s how it goes.
We both love stories.
Also, I know Frances is a liberal artist, even if she hasn’t formally adopted the title.
Last week, Frances launched her blog on Forbes. Yeah, that Forbes.
I don’t know Frances. Maybe she took some accounting classes. Maybe she loves supply chain. But that is not how she made it to Forbes before her friends who studied at Krannert, Purdue’s business school.
She made it to Forbes because she, as one Forbes blogger wrote, is pretty, aggressive, big-hearted, loves stories and shows up. She made it because she wouldn’t leave Susannah Breslin, the original blogger who wrote about her, alone before she got some advice about becoming a writer.
But how did Frances get to Forbes before her B-school friends? It’s the story thing. She loves stories. What liberal artist does not? I wonder how many business school students understand stories. Can they tell stories? Do they love stories? Life is just made up of stories, and if you are able to tell a story, or discover a story, or create a story, then you have figured out the hardest parts of life. There are beginnings, middles, and ends. There are funny stories, and there are serious stories. There are stories that pass the time and stories that stop time. Stories are our careers, our lives.
What is most important in these stories is the recognition of symbols, of patterns, of characters, of motivations. Why does Frances’ story lead to Forbes? What is her motivation? What character did she create when she asked that original Forbes blogger, who said she was pretty and aggressive, for advice?
I will tell you for certain — and I do not know Frances — for certain, the motivation was not profit. Was not money. Was not a 401(k) or IPO. Yes, she was job searching. But she could have much more easily taken more classes at Krannert and found a job at a job fair six months before she graduated. No, she made Forbes because she recognized she was part of a story — and had a story to tell. She is richer for this than any CEO will ever be. And she is richer sooner because she has become a liberal artist, an appreciator of the true meanings and mysteries of life.
This is not to say that business school students can’t be liberal artists. All are welcome to the club. It is just to say that the meanings and mysteries of life are not rooted in money or riches in the traditional sense. Frances’ tale does much to illustrate how embracing the story, instead of the paycheck, can lead to success sooner and faster. And it can lead to a success you would never imagine. I’m sure Frances, the English literature major, never thought she’d be doling out business and job advice to her business school friends.
For the full story of Frances and Forbes:
How I got three people jobs, Susannah Breslin
How to get a job if you are a twentysomething woman, Susannah Breslin
Finding your dream job from the bathroom floor, Frances Bridges