TSR Chat with Rose Estes


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Parmandur

Book-Friend
That's definitely not how she came across to me when I read that book. Her former employee generally felt that she cared about their well-being. She was not a great fit for TSR, but she managed it better than Gygax and the Blumes; Riggs specifically states that he couldn't find a single employee who preferred working under them.
There seems to have been some definite character assassination against Williams over the years, and the statements by Gary reported from this OP do really call into serious question anything Gary Gygax ever said about Williams.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
Her former employee generally felt that she cared about their well-being.
"Generally" I'm sure she did. But that doesn't mean she wasn't a toxic boss. Someone who yells at their employees "a lot," and whose staff are afraid of them, isn't someone who could be called pleasant by any means.

I've heard people repeatedly mention the story where Gary Gygax blew up at Rob Kuntz, Dave Arneson, and a few other people (in response to a suggestion that the company move closer to the Twin Cities area), citing it as evidence of his being difficult to work for. With Lorraine, that was apparently a Tuesday.
She was not a great fit for TSR, but she managed it better than Gygax and the Blumes;
Leaving aside that it's much more "the Blumes" than "Gary" (he had been a minority holder in the company's assets since 1975, and his having been sent to California was what allowed the Blumes to take their excesses to the point of almost sinking the company), she only managed it for twelve years, the exact same amount of time that it had been under the direction of Gary/the Blumes.
Riggs specifically states that he couldn't find a single employee who preferred working under them.
There's a reason that I quoted Jim Fallone, rather than Riggs himself, that reason being that Riggs is openly partisan about his presentation (i.e. his pettiness in repeatedly calling Gary "Saint Gary" throughout the book), calling a lot of what he personally asserts into question.
Highlighting goes both ways.
So you're saying a toxic boss isn't toxic so long as they have some redeeming qualities? That's an...interesting, take on things.
Honestly, Riggs is at pains to emphasize that Williams did not deserve the reputation she got from some fans, and particularly notes various ways she demonstrated loyalty to her staff.
He admittedly tries very hard to push that point, and he does come up with a few stories that cast her in a good light: her calling back an employee who had been fired in 1996 and not only admitting that the firing had been in error, but also apologizing, was absolutely to her credit. So was her helping out William W. Conners while he was taking care of his wife. But the bulk of his book only serves to demonstrate that her poor reputation was very well earned: again, if your own employees are afraid of you, that really tells you all you need to know.
I think a lot of the flak she got from certain fans was extremely misogynistic, painting her as a temptress who basically stole the company from Gygax and didn't pay enough respect to their opinions.
Riggs seems to agree with you, but in his case he seems to have started with that conclusion and gone looking for evidence to support it...and he didn't find very much.
 
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dave2008

Legend
But the bulk of his book only serves to demonstrate that her poor reputation was very well earned: again, if your own employees are afraid of you, that really tells you all you need to know.
Really, what you quoted suggest something very different. Here is what you quoted:

"...her reputation was so great and almost mythologized where people were afraid to say no to her. "

I think that paints a very different picture then what you are trying to color.
 

Alzrius

The EN World kitten
How do you draw that conclusion from what you quoted? She yelled at one person who disagreed with her, yet she still respected? If you read what you quoted in whole, it paints a pretty good picture of her and not a toxic boss.
Fallone says that she yelled at him "a lot," to the point where he "got over it." Maybe it's just me, but that unto itself strikes me as toxic behavior.

Really, what you quoted suggest something very different. Here is what you quoted:

"...her reputation was so great and almost mythologized where people were afraid to say no to her. "

I think that paints a very different picture then what you are trying to color.
No, I don't think that it does. Especially when Fallone also points out that it wasn't just that people were afraid to say no to her, but were afraid of her, period.

Again, she wasn't a caricature, but saying that a boss who yells at their employees, and that said employees are afraid of them (and that the boss doesn't understand what her staff does), all strike me as hallmarks of a bad boss by any measure. While I don't think she was out to make anyone miserable, or intentionally sink the company, that doesn't mean that she wasn't toxic.
 

Parmandur

Book-Friend
And I found Riggs to generally be quite careful with his words around Gygax; there are a lot of negative stories about Gygax from an awful lot of sources.
Riggs language about Gygax is clearly coming from a place of a complex mixture of respect and disappointment. Which will happen when anyone does a historical examination of their heros, by and large.

I fail to see how anyone can look at the mixed legacy and actions of Gary Gygax and not have an at best complex view of the man. Nearly a figure of classic Greek Tragedy, in a lot of ways.
 
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dave2008

Legend
Fallone says that she yelled at him "a lot," to the point where he "got over it." Maybe it's just me, but that unto itself strikes me as toxic behavior.


No, I don't think that it does. Especially when Fallone also points out that it wasn't just that people were afraid to say no to her, but were afraid of her, period.

Again, she wasn't a caricature, but saying that a boss who yells at their employees, and that said employees are afraid of them (and that the boss doesn't understand what her staff does), all strike me as hallmarks of a bad boss by any measure. While I don't think she was out to make anyone miserable, or intentionally sink the company, that doesn't mean that she wasn't toxic.
I disagree, unless you have a pattern of behavior with other employees and you know what Fallone means by "yelling." I have heated arguments with my boss because we have strong opinion and he respects my thoughts and that I challenge him. We have a great working relationship and wonderful work environment and culture in general. It also relevant that we have these arguments, but I haven't seen anyone else have them with him (we have about 35 employees over 3 offices). I can guarantee you that no one thinks we have a toxic boss or work environment. And I can contrast that to another boss I had (same company) that did create a bit of toxic work place until he retired.

What I read sounds more like my current boss versus my former boss.

Also, bad boss =/= toxic boss.
 

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