Toll House Tales: All Fired Up – Background

The following provides some background for the “All Fired Up” episode of the Toll House Tales.  Here you will learn more about Fran, Gayle, Doogie, and Julie.

>> Fran is at that 7-year post-college period of time (making her just about to cross the threshold into her 30s). Up to this point, her career has been her life.

Right after college, she took a job at a pre-IPO company that was started by an alumni from her college. She welcomed the opportunity to learn. The trade-off was that she became accustomed to working really long hours (80-100 per week) and knew no other way.

As a result of “The Competition” (code name for the “Lucy” event Fran experienced), Fran shifted gears and decided to continue her career at an established, post-IPO company (TechCo). Her life was still consumed with “winning,” building her salary history, acquiring goods and saving for a house some day.

At TechCo, she meets (connects with) two people, Gayle and Doogie who end up making a huge difference in her “life path.” For the first time, she has business associates she considers friends (as opposed to those you affiliate with to get what you need). At the time of this story, Fran is
really starting to see life in a new light ( Or a better analogy-she’s gained some new colors to her crayon box… and she likes it.

As a program manager for TechCo, her excellent track record for getting results is admired. She is left alone to get her job done. Feeling secure, she isn’t caught up in the politics of it all. As mentioned above, she really just wants to win. Her path is steady and methodical. And whenever she starts to slip into her OCD (obsessive compulsive behavior), Gayle and Doogie have a way of reeling her in.

>> Gayle is Fran’s best friend. They met while working at the same company in Silicon Valley. Though they only worked together for 6 months, it seemed like they had known each other for years. Gayle is 5 years older (34) than Fran and sees a lot of herself in her friend. Gayle’s challenge is to help guide Fran while still enabling her to find her own way. This is tough because by nature, Gayle is someone who always wants to fix things.

One day, Gayle suddenly packed up her things and moved back to Oregon (where she was raised- a suburb of Portland) so she could be close to her ailing Grandmother. Fran was sad to “lose” the first and only best friend she ever had. Gayle enjoyed mentoring Fran, but knew that the there were many paths on the journey that Fran would need to navigate alone, if she was to truly grow and achieve her full potential. They stayed in contact via email, cell phone, and via some sort of mysterious Force that somehow had them connecting with each other without electronic or technological assistance.

The last position Gayle held at TechCo was in Sales Operations. She was responsible for making sure the field forecasts for product were legit (sometimes, if a product was being allocated, a salesman would overstate his need so that when the allocation happens, he would actually end up with the right amount). Management didn’t enjoy being on the hook for excess inventory and created a new position – anointing Gayle the gatekeeper of product allocation and forecasts. While Gayle enjoyed the role, she also recognized that it was one that she could easily walk away from. She knew she had other things to accomplish in her life and had no interest in getting sucked into climbing any more corporate ladders (or running to kick a football only to have it pulled away at the last minute).

Grandma was the one who really encouraged/mentored her and balanced out her education- she was Gayle’s “Yoda.” Grandma’s illness created a great “excuse” for Gayle to exit Silicon Valley and move away from the “Type A” inertia of Silicon Valley.

Gayle’s “trigger event” happened before she arrived at TechCo. Her rallying cry ended up being Pat Benatar’s “Invincible.” She connected with this song because she had hit the point in her life where she recognized she needed to take control and make her life “work for her” instead of working for it. She made up her mind to live more proactively AND that includes being much more proactive in the quest for work/life balance.

The “born again” Gayle is often seen writing in her Journal. She also made time to do non-work-related reading and to work out (running mostly). She completely reconsidered her “day job” situation, and applied for a position that has more “regular” hours (8 hour day/40 hour week). And her move to Oregon had a sort of “Dagobah” effect for her. Not only was it a “full-on, time out,” but it allowed her to re-connect with many of the wonderful ideas/concepts that were introduced to her by her Grandma (things that and somehow gotten buried in her cluttered with “matters of consequence” mind).
>> Douglas AKA “Doogie” is quite the character. He is a writer in the marketing communications department AND a writer on the side. He has several scripts – full-length movies to television show “spec” scripts that are in various stages of development. He feels a bit overwhelmed with technology and has often turned to Fran (and before her Gayle) for a “layman’s” explanation of what the products do and how they work.

As his relationship with Fran grew, they both connected on the topic of baseball. Doogie is a diehard fan of the local team. Fran pines away for her childhood team from the East coast. Doogie is also older than Fran, almost 7 years (36) and often makes jokes about his age since he perceives Fran as considerably younger. Of course, Fran, playing the “kid
sister” uses every opening she can get to poke fun at her buddy by turning up the oldies station on the radio in her cube and yelling over the wall at Doogie, “Yo, Dude! Its time for this hour’s “Name that ancient tune” contest, you in?” They chuckle and days seem to go faster.

>> Julie is young (24), self-assured and very ambitious. She is determined to be the youngest director at the company and spends an extraordinary amount of time and energy trying to please the bosses and show off her smarts. When she isn’t working on a task, she’s “boning” up on the latest technology and trends). She’s very purposeful in everything she does and isn’t much for “spontaneity.” Because she is so task focused, she leaves herself little time to connect with others (“What’s the point? Where will it lead?”).

Doogie and Fran observe Julie as though she is some sort of anthropological study (like Jane Goodall and her chimpanzees). To Fran, watching Julie is tough because she remembers, not so long ago, when she was that driven. Now she wants to avoid driven people altogether. To Fran, any sort of compulsive addictive behavior leads to bad results (been there, done that). Both Doogie and Gayle remind Fran not to be judgmental.

Doogie sees Julie as a love interest (“wow, she has so much energy… and she’s so intense… and cute too!). He always seems to be looking for opportunities to connect with her. Fran jokingly tells Doogie that he’s too old (“Come on, Dude. I barely get your references.”).


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