Making Do-Overs Possible

Bette (Nesmith) Graham was born in Texas in 1924. She had a high-school education. Prior to World War II, she married and had a son when her husband was overseas. Her marriage didn’t last long after the war ended. As a single mom, Bette needed to support her son, so she took a job as a secretary in a bank. She eventually became the executive secretary at the bank.

When the bank began using electronic typewriters, the key triggers were much more sensitive than the former manual typewriters. This led to a lot of typos. Erasers didn’t work well.

Bette was a part-time window painter. When she made a mistake, she could just paint over it. This gave her the idea for correcting typos. She mixed up some white paint and a water color brush to “paint over” typos. She did this secretly for five years.

She worked with her son’s high school chemistry teacher to perfect the paint. While her bosses didn’t approve of the paint-over, her colleagues started using the paint.

Bette decided to form a company to sell her do over paint. The product was called Liquid Paper. It became a must have for every office. Bette decided to sell the company to Gillette in 1979 for $47.5 million.

In her company, Bette was a pioneer in providing nurturing and employee-centered environment for her employees, including a child care center. When she passed away at age 56, she left half of her estate to a foundation which provided career guidance for unwed mothers and support for abused women.

The other half of her estate was left to her son who created a think tank for exploring world problems. Her son, Mickey Nesmith, is perhaps better known as a member of the rock group, The Monkee’s. He was also a pioneer in the development of music videos and was one of the first performers of country rock.

Bette Graham in hidden hero who saw an eye for opportunity, which she was able to use as a vehicle to enrich the lives of others.

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“It is within everyone’s grasp to be a CEO.”– Martha Stewart

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