About Tami Marler, MBA
Born an Air Force brat in Bermuda, Tami Marler grew up in California and moved to Oklahoma just in time to start high school. The transition from cheerleader and president of her junior high class to a new state, in a new town with no friends, presented Tami with her first opportunities to rise above the alienation and exclusion inherent in bullying.
She couldn’t wait to graduate high school so she could live in the adult world, where – she hoped – being shunned by the cool kids would be a distant memory.
Miss America provides positive foundation
But typical high school bullying would not define Tami. She excelled in the Miss America Scholarship Program, where accomplished, intelligent and talented women embraced each other with open arms. Though they competed for the same titles and scholarships,fellow contestants supported, encouraged and celebrated each other, shaping Tami’s moral foundation and giving her hope for adulthood. The collaborative atmosphere fed Tami’s spirit, and helped her to earn her Bachelor and Master of Business Administration from The University of Tulsa, where she excelled in marketing, management and organizational development.
Tami helped to build a successful family commercial building services company from the ground up. At the height of its operation, the company had more than 200 employees serving commercial customers throughout Tulsa, Oklahoma, but the business disintegrated in a painful divorce.
Breaking in to TV news – and bullying
After seeing Tami emcee and perform at a Miss America preliminary, the Director of On-Air Talent at a local television affiliate saw qualities that prompted her to give Tami a spot as an entertainment reporter. Tami was grateful for the woman’s foresight, and the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to break into a career for which she had little education (besides high school and college journalism electives) or experience. But Tami didn’t just launch her career in local television. The former beauty queen also launched her spiral into workplace bullying hell.
“Little Susie Sunshine”
Throughout her progression to reporting medical breakthroughs, general assignments, investigations, and anchoring newscasts, Tami endured spying during one of her most painful personal trials and the resulting incessant gossip; ridicule for being a beauty queen; derision for not having a journalism degree; intentional exclusion from station teams, social gatherings and cliques. Producers complained about being forced to include her in newscasts, and openly mocked her when she asked for help.
One resentful producer attacked Tami in the middle of the newsroom, screaming about her designer wardrobe and shrieking, “Everyone just loves Little Susie Sunshine.”
On another occasion, Tami was alerted by a boss who said a group of women cornered her and threatened to quit, en masse, if the station proceeded with talks to groom Tami for the anchor desk.
These are just a few of the highlights. Beauty to the Rescue details these and many more disturbing and astonishing accounts of bullying.
Positive peer pressure prevails
Tami learned in pageants the power of positive peer pressure, and the strategy she deployed in high school just might work in adulthood: Stick with the winners. She built her own circle of support with photographers willing to defy the bullies’ directives, new employees who hadn’t yet been peppered with gossip about the Little Susie Sunshine, bubble-headed, bimbo beauty queen that everybody hated.
Bullying also subsided when, as an investigative journalist, Tami began breaking big stories, gaining exclusives and winning awards for excellence in enterprise and investigative storytelling.
Bring on the professionals
But nothing could prepare Tami for the bullying she would face when she made the fateful decision to leave the cocoon she’d built in television news for the business world. From her very first day to her very last, bullies and their cohorts targeted Tami for character annihilation and relentlessly impugned, ostracized and undermined her, and demolished the reputation she worked so hard to earn
The final straw
When you’re bullied in your 30s, job opportunities are plentiful, making it easy to pick up and move on to happier pastures. In your 40s, it’s a little more challenging, but still doable.
But in your 50s, when the end of your career is in sight, you’re planning your retirement, and the recruiters are no longer knocking down your door, happier pastures are fewer and farther between.
By the time Tami encountered her final bully, she was well versed in the whole, tired process, so she recognized the signs early on. Recruited to a position where she envisioned upward mobility and eventual retirement, she was mortified that another bully was creating a hostile work environment where her stomach was in knots every day, wondering where the next dagger was coming from.
Rather than stand idly by as her career circled the drain, this time Tami chose to act rather than move on. She immersed herself in company policy for resolving conflict and followed it to the letter. As added protection, she recorded everything – every meeting, every counseling session, even encounters in the hall – to ensure she handled matters with tact and professionalism.
The direct approach with the bully led to the typical cowardly lies and denial. The bully feigned shock and incredulity, denied that she intended to hurt Tami, and vowed to never do it again. She even pretended to be best girlfriends, then set about encouraging Tami’s employees to ignore, defy and exclude her, and impugning her reputation to anyone and everyone who would listen.
Like 54 percent of cases where victims report their abuse, Tami’s manager did nothing while the bully ratcheted up the behavior she vowed (recorded) to never repeat. Only this time, fueled by shame and humiliation, she carried out her campaign with even more venomous determination.
Like 90 percent of victims in studies by the Workplace Bullying Institute, Tami was never believed when she reported the abuse. Humiliated by his failure to act, the manager turned against Tami when she reached higher for relief, while the “human resource” manager resented being bothered with what he called a “cat fight” (as if Tami had any control over the choice to participate).
In 71 percent of reported bullying cases, the victim is retaliated against, and like a quarter of victims who report workplace bullying, Tami was terminated for the first time in her life.
Now in her 50s, paralyzed with self doubt and wracked with the sting of betrayal, Tami was exhausted from being the constant target of workplace bullies and the feckless managers who protect them. Shock and trauma reduced this once self-assured, accomplished former beauty queen to a trembling heap of insecurity, paranoia and despair. Frozen with fear of re-entering a workforce that requires interaction with more potential bullies, she retreated to the security of her horse ranch and avoided human contact wherever possible.
Beauty to the Rescue
In her recovery, Tami learned she was far from alone. For her fellow survivors, Tami wrote Beauty to the Rescue about the horror (and shocking prevalence) of workplace bullying. It’s about the innocent victims who are typically targeted and why seemingly decent co-workers tolerate, ignore or contribute to their abuse; how managers are loath to address it; and the psychic scars it leaves on the innocent victims who do nothing to attract it, and can do nothing to avoid it.
But more than the Tami’s ugly journey to the bottom, the book is about finding salvation in the unlikeliest of places. In the souls of discarded creatures like herself – used up and thrown away horses bound for slaughter in a foreign land – Tami found a new purpose that brought beauty back to a broken life.
Since Tami founded Swingin’ D Horse Rescue (the “D” is for Danny, Tami’s husband) in March 2017, they have saved dozens of unwanted horses from the threat of foreign slaughter.