The real me

16 Aug 2003|Christoper Ireland

I was inspired by Chuq Von Rospach’s refreshing bio to take another cut at my own. Here’s the non-PR version. I hope others will follow suit:

The Biographical summary: female. Unfortunately, that’s still an important distinction. It helps explain how I can have a full time job as Cheskin’s CEO, be mother to three, wife to one, help run a household and keep in almost continuous contact with my parents, grandparents, siblings and other related family members. Also, noting my gender clarifies and makes more acceptable my love of fashion.

I’ve been at Cheskin for nearly 15 years. Granted, the early years were under a different company name. In 1988, I founded a small, fun company called ImageNet. My first employee, Pam Paradiso, is still by my side today. We merged with Cheskin in 1996, although we’d worked together for years prior to that. The merger was as close to a marriage as it comes—the head of Cheskin was my husband, Davis Masten. The story of how we met and the evolution of our business and personal relationship is worth a long evening chat and a very good bottle of wine so I won’t recount it here.

My first love in business is technology. I got my first computer (something from IBM) in 1982 and it was love at first sight. I would finish my real job responsibilities as quickly as possible and spend the rest of my day exploring this new world. I bought my first personal computer in 1988 (an IBM P/S2-I think). This is another good story. I set the computer up, turned it on and got the DOS prompt. I had no idea what to do next. Coincidentally, I met Paul Allen about 10 years later and innocently explained how disappointed I was with my first PC experience. I recall saying something like “What kind of idiot would write software that was unintelligible to a normal user?”

Despite my obvious naivety, my fascination with technology fueled my education. I quickly adopted Macs, any handheld that showed up, networking tools, CD-Roms, printers, scanners and more recently digital cameras, flash drives and MP3 players. My downfall is computer games. I should belong to Game Players Anonymous as I have no will power to stop playing a good game. So I just try to avoid them. My favorite work projects continue to be those that feel like strategy games.

Away from work (both business work and house work) I am very happily married and very content with my family life. I love my kids and they appear to love me. I ski every chance I get (which isn’t enough) and would happily spend a month scuba diving if I could. I workout not because I like to, but because I’ll end up looking like a gnome if I don’t.

My personal philosophy, in five words (credit to Chuq for suggesting this tough exercise): “Matter to others and myself.” I’m a registered democrat, but I vote independent as most people I know do. I’m embarrassed by Clinton’s behavior in office, but I prefer a president who needs sex to one who needs wars. I was raised by a teacher and a coach, both amazingly wonderful human beings who taught me to be loving, courageous and competitive. I became an English major because I loved to read and write. I also loved to party and couldn’t do that if I pursued a tougher major. But I topped it off with an MBA because I knew I’d need to make a living at some point.

Finally, I have a wonderful circle of friends and colleagues who I value nearly as much as my family (but not quite). Some I’ve known for decades, some only for a year or two. They’re a wild and varied bunch who add needed color and drama to my life. I’ll retire when they do.

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