“If You Don’t Make Dust, You Eat Dust!”

“What are YOU doing here?”

My anticipation and excitement was quickly doused by my peers’ cold and unfriendly stare. I was clearly not welcome. It took me a moment to make sense of their reaction. Ahh…I’m the only woman president!

My sales experience had taught me how to deal with rejection, but this…this I took as a challenge to my intelligence. I made up my mind to prove a pretty, young blonde could be the president of a successful folding carton manufacturing company. I am fixin’ to kick up some high-heeled dust!

My reverberating questions were: How can I, as a woman, effectively compete in a male dominated industry? Do I need to toughen up? Grow a pair? Learn how to tell smutty jokes? Become one of the good ol’ boys? Or…

Ultimately, I decided to be the best me I could be…a woman who loves to be in the kitchen cooking and baking, a mother who finds joy in caring and nurturing, a gal pal who thrives on chatting and connecting; a diva who enjoys beauty and style, and a b-witch who notices the details that most men have no idea even exists. I decided to be a lady and bring all of me onto the racetrack.

I looked for opportunities to cook or bake for our employees and customers. I mailed personal Thank You notes, sent Get Well or Inspirational cards. I remembered the details shared while chatting and followed up later with appropriate questions and care. I prayed for them as I walked my dog in the early mornings. I prayed for their success and continually asked God how I
could be of greater service.

Instead of trying to imitate the way the men were doing it, I thought, How would I…with all these womanly aspects of me…do this??

This kind of thinking enabled me to come up with ideas that were new to the industry and gained the company notoriety and success far beyond what I could have even imagined at the time.

Trust me, high-heels make dust!


About Your Columnist

Janet (Jan) Steiner is a featured columnist for Women Lead, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence.  Jan is the former President/CEO of Thoro Packaging, an industry leading packaging solutions company. Driven by her life motto, “If you don’t make dust, you eat dust,” Jan scaled the company from $1 million to just under $40 million in revenue before negotiating the sale of her family-owned business in 2018 and retiring from this position. Throughout her career, Jan has earned numerous awards, including most recently being named Executive of the Year by Printing Industries Association of Southern California (PIASC), receiving the prestigious Spirit of the Entrepreneur Award, and being inducted into the Ben Franklin Honor Society in 2019. Today, with the spark of her vision and wisdom gained by her experience, Jan shares her core principles of success and business passion, inspiring and empowering other driven entrepreneurs to Make Dust, the name of her new speaking and mentoring business (ad)venture.


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