Why A Very Bad, Terrible, No Good Day is Really the Best Day of Your Life

Photo Credit: Kevin Morris

I woke up at 5 A.M. with my head bashed against the ceiling.

It wasn’t because I had leapt out of bed, because nobody in their twenties leaps out of bed. No, the injury came because I slept on top of a bunk bed, one foot from the roof, strategically positioning myself for maximum head trauma.

The bunk bed was something I had inherited from a 5-year-old, and I had considered moving it, but my studio apartment, which was pretty much a glorified Manhattan Mini Storage container, prohibited such elegant redecoration.

Later that day, I walked into the staffing office where I was temping, hell-bent on telling them I wasn’t accepting any more receptionist gigs. I wanted to become an analyst, I wanted everyone to know it, and I wasn’t going to take “no” for an answer. Full stop.

The staffing agency thought otherwise. After a heated argument with their receptionist, I was led into the back room.

The head of staffing swiveled his leather chair around — James Bond villain style — and grunted “what!?” After the receptionist painted a not-so rosy portrait of our argument, he said

“I thought you were here to talk about her hair, not her attitude”.

To his credit, he did take the time to explain to me that a double major in chemistry and English was not an ideal accreditation for someone who wanted to enter finance as an analyst. Then he told me that women care about their hair and their shoes, not about stock prices, and he lost me.

Evidently, the feeling was mutual, because my tenure at the agency ended pretty soon after that.

It was really a horrible day, the kind that you remember years later and still shudder as though it happened minutes ago. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t be “Founder and CEO Elle Kaplan” if it hadn’t happened, particularly if it hadn’t happened in as spectacularly unpleasant a fashion.

My apartment made my freshman dorm look like the Taj Mahal, and my job was a mind-numbing slog, lorded over by a chauvinistic boss who made Roger Sterling look like a third-wave feminist. But without my crummy apartment and scumbag boss, I never would have been inspired to start LexION Capital, where one of my main goals is to financially empower women.

The difference between a lousy day and a stepping stone is my mantra — “everything that happens to me is the best thing that can happen to me.”

So if you’re riding the subway to work, crushed between four sweaty people who have a nodding acquaintance at best with the concept of bathing, think of the people with no transportation. You can get to your job, where being on time can lead to a promotion, and a promotion can get you noticed by HR, and so on.

And if it doesn’t, something better could still come along.

We all have those days where our coffee is magnetically attracted to our new outfits and every door is slammed in our faces. But it’s these rough patches, slammed doors and countless “no’s” that can create even better opportunities.

So use these bad experiences to push forward, and remember, “no” is just someone’s opinion.