Saturday, October 15, 2005

Martha Viewing

Signalwriter regulars know Susan Kirkland, top graphic designer and author of a popular book on running a creative services business. She sent a copy of the book to Martha Stewart, and got pretty excited when a Stewart aide left a message on her answering machine. Well, I’ll let her tell you the story.

“Having been raised as a ‘person’ as opposed to a man or woman; the wolves taughtme that my goals, dreams and aspirations are just like any other fool eking out their existence on this miserable rock.

“So when the big boys at the SEC decided to take down Martha for her piddly ‘crime’ I sent her a letter of support. My point of view was that she had made too much money and fame in an area usually dominated by men; now they would punish her. She responded with a form letter written to the general public and a subscription card for her magazine. For the doyenne of the good life, this was tacky. She responded to my genuine care and concern for a fellow human being with a solicitation for magazines. Turning my sentiment into an opportunity to profit is the ultimate in poor taste.

“My humanity persisted. I wrote again after the verdict, encouraging her to get on with her life; this, too, shall pass. Again, a response in a hand-addressed envelope stuffed with a subscription card and information on her website.

“This time I understood why Andy Stewart divorced her; you can outfit an entire house to create a perfect world, but you cannot create humanness and compassion in a person raised without it, no matter how smart or pretty.

“When my book came out, Martha's new show on The Learning Channel seemed a good fit for promotion. I sent her a copy with a brief note: ‘Martha – Glad you're back. Your show is much better than the guy with the funny hair. Please help me promote my book since you’re a pro and I’m just a novice.’

“About a week later, there was a message on my machine when I got home late one day. Martha's personal assistant ‘Christian’ called, apologized vehemently if this was not the home of Susan Kirkland, Master Designer and left a number for a return call. It seemed safe to be happy about this, and I e-mailed my friends to tell them, ‘Martha called,’ knowing full well I would have to share the good or the bad. (We're trying to live it all, good and bad.)

“I returned the call around noon. ‘Hello, is this Christian?’ Yes, it was Christian and in her overly casual, rather elegant New England accent, she informed me that she called to let me know Martha doesn't promote books and she was sending it back to me. ‘It's already been dropped in the mail.’ I was surprised so much thoroughness was dedicated to ‘NO.’

“Sometimes, as I live my life the way I want to (helping at every opportunity without reserve) I forget that not everyone has a willingness to help me. It’s a silly thing, really, but it won’t change the way I live. I know now that Martha Stewart is just what she seems – no deeper than 4 color-process.”

Now it just so happens that, after four losses and four trips to the conference room in episodes of “The Apprentice: Martha Stewart,” contestant Dawn came prepared with a list of excuses. But Martha was finished with whining. “You don’t want me to lose my patience,” she said, “None of you want me to lose my patience.”

Susan: send Martha another copy of your book.



1 comment:

Josephine March said...

I used to work in Westport, Connecticut where Martha had a house (and filmed a number of her shows). A few years ago, she moved. There was a huge "Goodbye" card that was in one of the stores in town for people to sign. One of the inscriptions was "Having you as a neighbor was scary."

A gentleman I worked for in the late 90s lived in Weston, CT--and years ago used to hire Martha to cater some of his dinner parties (when she was just starting out). He said she gave "perfectionism" a new name.