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Fumble Recovery: My Coffee Might Be Black, but My Heart Isn’t

by Kelly Singh

This is a story about my relationship with my dad, what he taught me about life and what I learned for myself along the way. 

Being a woman in sports (or marketing) isn’t the easiest. I found myself grateful for the things my dad had taught, but also for the street smarts to pick up what else I needed to know. And while the corporate world can be a cold place, I can confidently say that my coffee might be black, but my heart isn’t. 

Golf has been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember. My dad had a golf shop and was well known in Phoenix as one of the best at building and repairing custom clubs. I would spend many days with him at the shop learning how to do various things; strip a club of its old grip and how to apply a new one, how to sandblast actual wooden drivers and apply a fresh coat of paint and varnish and how to use a razor blade to clean up a shaft after the work was done. 

We would blast the radio in the back workroom and sing all the songs together. The smell of gasoline, epoxy and varnish filled the air. Every now and then, a stray cat would find its way to the back door. You can imagine my delight when my dad would open a can of tuna that just happened to be lying around for me to feed it. Even more exciting would be when a celebrity would come in for a fitting or a repair. I thought my dad was a celebrity himself because of the way these stars and athletes spoke so highly of his work. 

As I got older, I started doing other things at the shop, like running the register and delivering completed work to the local pro shops. When he had the time, I would sometimes ride along with my dad on these deliveries and we would hit the range. He always told me that I was a natural athlete and that golf suited my strengths. Sharing this time with my dad is one of my most cherished memories. Not only am I grateful for the memories (especially now that he’s gone), but I’m also grateful to have picked up the sport of golf. 

Being able to golf has opened many, many doors for me. As a woman, it’s hard to find your seat at the table in a world of male professionals. I started to drink my coffee black and take up bourbon collecting as a hobby. These small actions gave me an opener in business conversations. It sounds so silly, but it’s absolutely true. A man in the office would offer to grab me a coffee, and when I said that I take my coffee black, they seemed to take me more seriously. 

Why? I’m not sure, but it worked. The same could be said at work-related happy hour events. I would order my bourbon neat, and suddenly, I was the most interesting woman in the room. Add in the fact that I played golf, and I became some sort of unicorn. 

It’s been said that some women “sleep” their way to the top. I just became one of the guys. But being one of the guys isn’t enough. I had to work twice as hard to get my work noticed or even get credit for my work. 

Is it fair? Of course not, but that’s how it is – or was. 

I’m not made for conformity. I’m on another level – a different plane. My dreams are more significant than board rooms and breakroom banter. One day, I’ll achieve whatever it is that I’m being called to, and I’ll be able to thank my dad for that. Oh, and for the warm heart. 

My Direct Messages (DMs) are always open. Take care. xo @KellyInPhoenix

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