Ch-ch-ch-changes

Time goes by pretty fast if you don’t take the time to look around.

(Time also goes by Clichepretty fast after 40.. how is it almost July??? And where are my glasses).

Grey hair, sore knees, sad eyes and that’s just the dog. Its true I’m starting to resemble him these days, but I refuse to resort to spending my days lying on the sofa farting and snoring… no matter what I feel like.

A few data points from the last year or so to catch you up:

  • 3 new bosses, 13 keynotes, 6 conferences, 18 town halls, 300+ powerpoints and 1TB of new content created.
  • 2 heads of state, 2 ambassadors, 6 tech icons and many of the Fortune 100 CEOs. (Favorite was the Dutch Prime minister who was delicious, weird and still lives with his mother. Wonderful manners).
  • $$$$$ earned. I mean ridiculous.

And in non work life;

  • 11 procedures via 2 shoulder surgeries, 32 weeks of PT, knee cartilage busted
  • 7 glorious weekends in St. Helena, CA
  • 3 dates with men who turned out to be married.
  • 3 apartment moves
  • 1 old flame
  • And I finally saw BRUCE in concert (Springsteen not Hornby and the Range)

And the best thing of all?

I realized I prefer working with and being around nice people over most everything else.

Life is just too short to run behind Mr.Big in 4 inch heels hoping that you’re having some positive impact on someone somewhere. No matter the astonishing people you meet, the innovation you’re absorbed in, the resources available and the learning you do… nothing beats working with a team of people who have your back, who treat you well and who share your values. Seeing the impact of your work. Having a team who knows you and doesn’t think its weird when you lend a hand, offer or ask for help. It makes all the difference.

I’m sure this reads like every cliché in the book.. but its been an eye-opening, life changing 18 months for me.  I’ve always been independent, up for an adventure and embracing of change.. and this time might be the ultimate challenge. Putting my values first and building the life I want around them.

Now.. does anyone have a use for some slightly used high heels?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I would do anything… but I don’t do that

smileyI was recently contacted by a head hunter for an exciting opportunity working for ‘the worlds largest employer’. Wowser.. sooooo exciting! The job description was completely aligned with my skills and experience, the level was a jump from my current position (yay, more pay) and damn.. how fun to work for a really huge company

Then I realized who that was…(clue:rhymes with ‘ballpart’).

Now putting aside their history of poor treatment for part-time (‘zero hours’) employees, utilization of Chinese sweat shops, manipulation of suppliers and contributing to the death of the small town ‘down town’ local retailer, I did have to think of reasons why I might have to pass up this fabulous opportunity. After all,

I’ve never been one to shy from a challenge, but I have to admit that this one has me taking a rather large step back. After all, I would do anything for a challenge…. but ‘ballpart’… nope, even I won’t do that.

Jobs that Monster thinks I’m suitable for

01 monsterEvery summer, just as I’m starting to return to Planet Earth after ‘the-craziest-hours-ever-no-seriously-I-mean-it’, I tend to look up from my laptop, notice that the trees now have leaves and reconsider my worth in the marketplace.

No, not whether I’m a BOGO or what I could get for standing on the corner of Colfax and 17th at 9pm on a Wednesday.. but what’s out there is the job market, and is there anything to tempt me away from my life of 11 hours in from of a PC, but the freedom to fart at any point without worrying about coworkers.

Now I’ve not had to purchase a single ‘work outfit’ in 4 years (my dog couldn’t even care less if I wore clothes at all) and I do love what I do, so there really is no pressing need to move on, but I still retain the smidgen of ego and ambition I was born with, and I’ve had the occasional Wednesday afternoon wondering what it would be like to actually see a coworker more than once every year.

Which brings me to my summer activity ‘job reviewing’.

I’m not hungry, so there’s no ‘hunt’ involved, but on occasion I do wonder if my title is destined to remain the same for the next 20 years and whether I will still be aligning fonts at the age of 62.. so I set up some RSS feeds, logged on and updated my LinkedIn profile (because that works..not), and reposted my resume to see what bites. It’s actually how I wound up in the job I have now.. and apparently I have the optimism of a millenial with a trust fund in the hope that ‘Perfect Job v2.0’ is also going to land in my inbox.

This year has been an exercise is reevaluating this approach.. and thanking my lucky stars that I’m not actually ‘on the hunt’. Here’s a sampling of Monster’s suggestions for my skill set. Just for some background, I was a management consultant for 17 years and a communications leader for 4 yrs at Fortune 100 companies.. but to Google.. I’m potentially any of the following;

1. Agile Coach

When I first read this, I immediately felt flattered. Maybe my 6 year commitment to yoga and my personal willingness to do anything for my CEO (from helping him grow tomatoes to writing his speeches) had shone through on my resume. I do love guiding and helping people, and while I don’t have much direct experience ‘coaching’ per se.. I was optimistic that somehow, the new field of leadership development was being opened up to me.

Then I read the job description and realized it actually means someone who does a certain type of project management around software development. Yawn. Not so much Agile as ‘willing to be glued to your PC for 12 hours and talk in 3 three acronyms for the next 15 years while surrounded by men in Dockers and bad fitting golf shirts’.  Actually, pretty anti-agile. Mind numbingly static really. Next.

3. Histotechnologist/ PRN

I admit, I actually didn’t know what this was, though my first thought was ‘something to do with history?’ Post Google, I learned it ‘centers on the detection of tissue abnormalities and the treatment for the diseases causing the abnormalities. Essentially the perfect job for someone who compulsively worries about their health and overall ‘normalcy’. Oh talk about taking your job home with you.. I’d be self diagnosed with MS, Huntingdons, and Parkinsons’s before the end of the my first day.

But what does a Histo..whatsit..actually do? “As a histotechnologist, you will prepare very thin slices of human, animal or plant tissue for microscopic examination”   How my past 20+ years of writing Powerpoint, talking to clients and trying to put people at ease with change would prepare me for slicing up brains and tumors I’m not sure. But since the certification is only a year, I added it to my growing list of ‘back up plans’. After all, I chop myself an onion pretty fine.. maybe I’d be good at slicing up grey matter? As long as no one is asking me to saute it afterwards, it wouldn’t be so bad?

4. Division Director – Child Support services

Anyone who knows me, knows that I treat children like you would a moving cactus. With extreme caution, thick gloves and sturdy sneakers.. you know, for running away. How Monster thought I could be in charge of ‘child support’  for a whole division I don’t know. Unless that division is ‘middle ages dudes who have the mental age of 12’ then I’m willing to admit I’d be hopeless at this job. (Actually, at this point I’m starting to think that the guys at Monster didn’t actually read my resume at all, and that they’re just shooting me rando jobs in the hope that suddenly I’ll realize my dream to become an insurance salesperson or admin assistant). Me, have responsibility for kids who are risk, who need help and assistance… are you kidding me? Unless it came with a lasso and a stable, I’d be about as useful as a penguin in this role. Next.

5. Drama Instructor

Well, I know I’ve been known to act out, but I take this suggestion with a pinch of salt. I know I kind of made a big deal about my lack of progression at work, and I might have overemphasized the awfulness of a few dates, and yes, I know that I can tend to blow things out of proportion but me? teaching drama? Nooooo. I could never… could I???

6. Taco Bell Shift Lead

Oh now the gloves really come off Monster! Thanks. Thanks a lot. My 4 years of college, my 17 years of 70 hour weeks, hour upon hour of client negotiations and deliverable prep has led to…. supervising the insertion of dog meat into a chulupa? Monitoring the cheese usage? Reordering tortilla chips? Oh thankyou Monster.. I’m flattered that you see the potential in me. Time to take any indicators of ‘customer service’ off my resume.

7. Retirement Plan Lead

Well I can’t say I’m surprised Monster. After all, I am getting older and I have, on occasion, thought about what retirement would look like. You, clearly, have me already moving fast on the downslope of my career. After all, why not get more prepared and informed about how I’ll be living on cat food and the leftovers at Chiplote come age 65.  Now I don’t know a damn thing about numbers and Excel screams with laughter when I open a new spreadsheet, but I’m sure I could pick it up. And I’m betting their dress code is pretty lax as long as your Depends adult diapers don’t show through.

So I think I’ll sit on my hands this summer. Maybe just enjoy having a job a love, coworkers who make me laugh and sure, I could be a VP of Corporate Communications somewhere, but I could also be a Taco Bell shift lead. I’ll take my chances and stay where I am. You know, until I have a hankering for a Gordito.

 

I’m an excellent…..?

excellentA recent study conducted at Montana University, was looking into the difference between men and women as ‘self promoters’. With the advent of ‘Lean In’ and the noted unbalance of women in executive leadership positions positively ‘the norm’, the study asked 60 female college freshmen to write an essay about their personal accomplishments. The “winner”, reflecting the reality that learning to self-promote is rewarded in the professional world, would receive $5000.

I read this and thought ‘suckaaaaaz’ That $5G would so be mine. I can write, (they didn’t imply that bad spelling would be penalized), and I am extremely self aware. Or so my meds suggest. I got skillz. (as mentioned, my spelling.. needs work)

As a challenge, I decided that I’d give it a go.. see what a natural self promoter I was, and hey, maybe use it as a primer for my upcoming annual review.  Since they always go so well. It couldn’t hurt.

3 hours later…..

Its really really hard guys…

I’m here to tell you that my list is shabby. It features a lot of crossed out words. At one point I considered firing myself for incompetence. I certainly am amazed I manage to remain employed at 42. Since my skills, my ‘be excellent in her presence’ (bonus points if you catch the reference)… well, they’re sort of random, and none… is particularly helpful in the professional world. Unless its 1842.

Here goes…

I am an outstanding grower of heirloom tomatoes. I can rock my toms from seeds to weighted glorious bounty with little more than a few minutes each day, water and access to sun. One year I produced 50lbs of them and became so sick of them, began gifting to random neighbors, strangers I met while walking my dog and even my bike mechanic. This skill definitely shows my nurturing side, and I believe that my ‘coaching’ of these plants exhibits my strong managerial skills, and the ability to see potential beyond the person.

I am an excellent camper. With little more than 10 minutes notice I can be packed and ready with my backpack (or car camping tote), fully kitted at approximately 38lbs. (the bag, not me). Once reaching the camping destination, I can put up a tent, prep the bedding and have tea on the boil/ beers cracked within 15 minutes. I do not moan. I do not whine. I am happy to s-t in the woods (as long as you’re not timing me or in the vicinity – that’s pervy). I can give myself a shower with 1 Nalgene of water and a Wet wipe, (you don’t want to watch, the contortions are somewhat unappealing). This strength exhibits my resilience, ability to deliver above expectations (girls can be whiny in a tent), resourcefulness (yes, you can have sex in a single sleeping bag) and delegation  (you sip beer and build a fire, I’ll do the rest). I firmly believe that my excellence while camping demonstrates that with more resources (a lighter sleeping pad, a bonus of $5K), I could accomplish even more for the company.

I am extremely good at walking the dog. I’ve not lost one yet. (just kidding.. but he did come back a day later). I am prompt, varied in route and consistent in timing. I fulfill all expectations of a dog walk that includes

  • Willingness to stand around staring into space to allow for excessive sniffing of a leaf
  • Picking up of what is frankly astonishing amounts of shit for a medium sized dog
  • Leash allowance to enable squirrel chasing, other dog butt sniffing, goose investigations and random sprints
  • Recognition for excellence performance in ‘come’ ‘stay’ and ‘sit’
  • Commitment to 5 miles per day rain, snow or 5am wake up required.

While canine perambulations might not seem relevant in this discussion, I believe that this skill demonstrates my capability as a leader who is willing to let her charges explore their limitations (especially regarding aforementioned squirrel hunting), provision of firm objectives and goals for the team, recognition and resource management (I do have a job you know). I also show flexibility in my willingness to substitute walking with swimming, hiking or hysteria upon the spotting a cat.

Other strengths which you may want to consider include; ongoing commitment to bedding hygiene, low maintenance girlfriend at relatively low cost and ability to rock a kick ass curry. I am able possessed of the ability to stand on one leg for an inordinate amount of time, can maintain a handstand for over a minute and can bench-press my body weight. This may be useful should I be considered for promotion, though I’ve not yet figured out how.

Opportunities for improvement

My willingness to identify opportunities for improvement indicates my self knowledge and frankly, fucking useless, modesty. However I am compelled to list them should the aforementioned list indicate that I am, in fact, gods greatest gift to earth.

While I possess excellent skills in loving and caring for others, my ability to practice and maintain this skill has been somewhat limited by the range of dateable men in the Denver metro area. I have instead focused this skill on my dog, my friends and several crushes which I’ve nurtured over the years. However I know that without regular use, all skills can wither, hence I may be in need of refresher training should this skill be required in the near future. Evidence of improvement opportunities was indicated by my rejection of the date offered by my maintenance man, and my fading interest in ever going on a date again.

I consider my written communication skills to be fairly strong, however I have noticed that my willingness to curse has increased over the past year. I have, sadly, come to find that the use of fuck, motherfucker and fucking to be the only suitable response to some of the situations I find myself in on a daily basis. This includes the recent ticket I received for not stopping long enough at a stop sign, the photo ticket I received for not stopping behind the line, and the 4 parking tickets I have received in the last month for overstaying my reservation by mere minutes. Mother-Fuckers.

Finally, I am aware that I have an increasing tendency to interrupt you mid conversation, ramble on for way to long or sit in silence during one on one interactions. Working from home, while excellent for my productivity, wardrobe expenses and tea consumption, has somewhat deprived me of regular social interaction. This has the unintended consequence of lessening my social ease and verbal communication. I am working on it. In the meantime, please excuse me while I tell a completely inappropriate story, appear unduly rude or insult you without reason. I’m a fucking idiot. What can I say.

Work/Life Balance

businessman-working-on-beach-300x200In light of Goldman Sach’s recent memo that reminded to their staff to,

‘leave the office at 9pm on Friday

I was thrilled that finally, the 80’s ‘work hard/ play hard’, 100 hour work weeks, ‘lunch is for wimps’ ethos might be on its last legs.

Sadly not so much.

In response to the recent death of one of their own (Moritz Erhardt collapsed and died after working 8 days straight – 192 hours), Goldman still hasn’t quite got the hang of the whole ‘work/life balance’ thing.

‘Employees cannot return to the office until 9am Sunday’  (wow a WHOLE 1 day off per week and while great for Jewish people, not so much for those of non Jewish persuasion)

‘Employees are still expected to check their blackberries [sic] on a regular basis’ during that day off (well, it is a WHOLE 24 hours). But if you’re hankering, working the weekend is still an option;

If a team needs a professional exception to the Saturday rule (ie a junior banker needs to work on Saturday and/or the entire weekend), please email [a senior manager] by 9am on Friday for approval’

Well I’m glad that’s straight. 1 day off a week, unless you need to work. Which…. you probably do.

But don’t worry, they’re still invested in your long term health. I mean, its not just all about the weekend. What about holidays?

‘All analysts, including new first year analysts, are expected to take time off (preferably one week) before the end of the year in an effort to focus on work-life balance’

Soooo. After working my 6 day weeks for 51 weeks of the year, I get a week to focus on ‘work/life balance’. WOW…that’s going to be quite the intense week. Though how I’m meant to cram my love life,my family,  my dental checkup, pap smear, oil change, eye exam AND relaxing into 7 days…. well. I guess that’s why I work at Goldmans.

In light of this obsession with ‘work/life balance’ and the traditional response from corporate America (“balance is great.. just make sure you available 24/7 and you put in your 40, or 50, or even 60 if you want”).. I decided to write an open letter (hey, everyone is doin’ it) to ‘Merica’ about what work/life balance really looks like.

Dear ‘Merica

I know that you were built on the dreams of white men (aided by the sweat of slaves), aided by the mass delusion of every poor person that one day, if they worked goddam hard enough, they too would get ‘theirs’, but its 2013. Things have got to change. We know we’re not getting ‘ours’ and to be honest, I don’t many people who aren’t working themselves into premature grey hair and a serious Xanax problem.

Sure, back in the ‘good ol’ days’ where men wore hats, ladies stayed home to raise little Timmy and Vera, and you drove a boat car that got 2 miles to the gallon, things were different. You had ‘the office’ and you had ‘home’. The office was the place where you got to have secretaries bring you coffee, took 2 hour lunches and called it good at 5pm. Home was where wifey mixed up your G&T as you pulled into your white picketed driveway, the kids didn’t expect more than a hair tousle and your evening was spent in R&R. Sure you look might look over a contract, or have a think about something that someone said during that meeting, but largely, you spent 40 hours a week ‘working’ and the rest of your week at leisure.

Fast forward to the 90’s, when that 40 hour work week increased to 60, 80 or even 100 hours. Lunch as a concept -‘taking a break to eat’- disappeared and everyone found themselves scoffing whatever they could, at their desk, in the 5 minutes between meetings. Working long hours was a badge of honor and only those who sold their soul got to rise to the upper middle (if they were white, middle class and played golf). With both parents now needing to work to keep that gas guzzler going and the white picket fence painted, kids had babysitters and latch keys, tv and video games. Evenings involved more work for both spouses, take out pizza and the R&R largely happened around 11pm-6am. Reagan had promised a ‘new day in America’ and hell, we were willing to work for it. We still had weekends and vacations blissfully free of work.  Little did we know, these were the new ‘good ol’ days’.

Today, 2013, work and life are inextricably intertwined. We are available 24/7 and have expected availability for work questions and requests of 18/6 (18 hours, 6 days a week). We work all.the.time. These days we’re working at work, at home, even on the drive to and from home (yes, we all have texted or sat on a conference call while driving, don’t kid yourself). We work while waiting for the doctors appointment, standing in line at the pharmacy and now, we can even maintain our work schedule and contact-ability on a plane or a train.

We work without even realizing that we’re working.  ‘Just checking my email’

Yes, that’s work, even if it only takes 5, 10 mins… 3 hours.

We work on vacation, we take calls during dinner, and yes lunch seems to have returned (we can leave our desks now), but we’re generally standing around checking our phones and taking calls as we’re waiting for our sandwich (which yes, will be eaten at our desk). We check our email upon waking, and keep our phone next to the bed. We take vacations but we still take our phone and often our laptops.

There is no doubt that we’re all benefited from this new flexibility to work anywhere and everywhere. We can get to see the doctor mid week without taking a whole sick day. We can stay home when we’re hacking up a lung. We do get to pick up the kids from school or leave early for a date. Our lives are ultimately more flexible and the concept of being tied to a desk is redundant. Except.. we’re still working while we do all those things. We’re working all.the.time. Balance?  The lines between work and home no longer exist for many of us and the two are so closely intertwined you couldn’t separate them on the scales even to measure the concept of ‘balance’.

So yes, while we mock Goldman Sachs for their insistence of taking a week vacation, and staying away from the office for a whole day I actually applaud their balls. They’re just being honest.  This is the new reality for many of us. Turning off our laptops, our phones or telling people we’re not accessible via email during our annual vacation is akin to telling people you don’t care. Its shocking. Unheard of.  Career limiting. And yes, frowned upon.

The longest I’ve been away from my laptop in the last 12 months is 2 days. Away from my work email?  Maybe 36 hours.

I love the tradeoffs for this accessibility – my ability to walk my dog at 4pm before it gets dark; to visit the doctor when I need to; to sit on a conference call while I toast a veggie burger.

But there is a trade off.And sometimes our leaders, our managers and our coworkers forget it.

So, as I listen to the phone ringing and my email pinging when I have strep throat or I open my email on Sunday to see 180 new emails I wonder whether those bankers have it so bad. And as I forwarded the note to some work friends and we all had a laugh, I’d wonder if they notice how much work they’re actually doing. Because when it all evens out, its probably not far from Goldman’s.

We’re just not doing it in Armani suits.

Millennials in the workplace

Millennials in the Workplace

I’m not so old that I forget being 21. Or 19.. or even 16. But as I get increasingly exposed to today’s ‘millennials’ I’m starting to feel downright crusty. I watch ‘Girls’, I have a Twitter account (still haven’t quite figured out that whole #tag thing or how to get more than my current 36 followers), and yes, I still listen to current music (I said music, not Rhianna). Yes my 20s and 20s are long gone and I had to retire my short shorts last year but I’m not old… am I?

I work at a company that hires millennials. 21, 22 and – *gasp* 24 yr olds. They’re smart, passionate, survive on ‘5 hour energy’ drinks and seem way more aggressive than anyone I knew right out of school. They’re awesome and I can’t help but warm to their enthusiasm for everything.
But wow..that’s where the envy begins and ends. Because in their drive to learn everything, maximize every piece of technology and become deeply involved in ever whim and trend they seem to have skipped a few steps. Basic steps. Which can’t help me make me smile, not because I need to feel superior, but because it makes them ‘real’. Less scary and intimidating.  And yes, because it reminds me of the 1994 me… haven’t we all be here?

1. They have no clue how to dress for work. 

Last week I met two millennials’ in the break room and couldn’t help but grin. One looked like she was stopping off for coffee on her way home from the night before, the other looked like he was heading off for a kegger. Mini skirts and platform heels, cargo pants and Izod shirts. I swear I spotted a black Chuck Taylor hiding beneath a desk. And these are professionals working for a professional service firm. Which doesn’t involve retail. Sure they’re not lawyers or bankers but we work in an industry that didn’t allow women to wear pants until 1994. I know because I was told off on my first day for wearing a pant suit. Suits and shirts, skirts and ‘nude hose’ were the rule of the day and man, I so grateful that rule died back in the early 2000s. But still, I wish someone – the parents? – would mention that its hard to be taken seriously by a CEO when your shoes have Lucite heels. JCrew is seriously dropping the ball on this one.

2. They can’t write for shit

A coworker and I have entertained ourselves on many a Friday afternoon by recounting some of the writing that counts for ‘professional English’ we receive. In a world of emoticons, instant spell check and IM, many of the millennials seems to have given up on writing, reading and anything approximating normal speech altogether.

‘So, its like, she went- ‘that deliverable isn’t, like, ‘on it. So now its late.”

‘I want to be promoted because, like, my manager said that I was good, and my career adviser said to ‘big it up’ and I have the skills and I work really hard and been in this role for 2 years. 🙂

Huh? Are we all auditioning for Point Break 2? With writing that falls directly off a ‘Valley Girl/ Clueless’ script its really hard to take these kids seriously, even though I know they’ve all got 135 IQs and can code me under a desk. I love that we’re not to so formal in business these days, but honestly I’m not sure how I’d ever introduce a millennial to a CEO and still expect business to happen. They’re not all this bad, but increasingly we’re having to explain ‘their/there/they’re’ and why you can’t have 16 ‘ands’ in a sentence. Wasn’t this covered in middle school? And don’t get me started on the use of emoticons and texting shorthand in business. Smiley faces and sad faces have no place in business. Just no. We’re not 12.

3. They need constant encouragement and praise. 

Anyone who hasn’t been living in a rock knows this one. Everyone gets a trophy, right? When working directly with millennials I noticed that not only did they need everything to be explained to the nth degree before starting something, but that I received daily updates on progress that required ‘approval’. Now I think its great that you want to make sure that your spreadsheet is correct, but I don’t need to ‘approve’ the color you used in the banner headline. And no, I’m not applauding your creative use of font. Once the project was complete, instead of running at high speed to a more interesting project, they stuck around wanting to hear what my superiors ‘thought’ and whether the CEO had any direct feedback for them. I hadn’t the heart to tell them that the likely consideration of their work was a 5 second glance before he scribbled numbers on a Post-It and deleted the file… it seemed cruel when their hopes were so high. Yes guys you did a good job. A really good job and yes Bob, that font was cool. But move on. You’re not getting a trophy or personal written notes of encouragement from the CEO every time you poop. I think he reserves that for his grand-kids. If you need approval or a grade or a trophy I suggest you return to elementary school. I waited 21 years for professional approval and it only came last week. Get in line.

4. They whine when something is difficult. 

With the advent of iPads, iPods, iMacs and all other ‘i’ appliances, we’re removed the difficulty from our millennials’ lives. They never had to catch a bus to the library to look up a fact about Abraham Lincoln for a paper, they simply downloaded the paper and ‘customized it’. They never had to figure out how to program a VCR, make a mix tape or drive a stick shift. We now have Tivo, playlists and automatics for that. We have buttons or increasingly icons. Things are easier. But work generally isn’t.
Sure you no longer need a massive calculator on your desk and you don’t have to use an eraser any more, but basically work still involves figuring out problems, coming up with solutions, trying to convince people that your solution is best and then up-selling the crap out of it so that someone lets you go solve the problem your way. Which is hard. And frustrating. And often a complete waste of time when your boss has a change of heart because he saw something better on CSPAN. Our millennials don’t get it. The waste of time. The inefficiency. The lack of source material to base the solution on. What? You start with a clean sheet of paper and just… make it up? I love the look of bemusement when we’re doing something ‘green field’ and its like herding a class of 4th graders to get them started. They think they saw something they can use on the internet, they might have something they’ve seen before and if all else fails they’ll ask something they think can help them. All accompanied by a lot of whining. I seem to remember getting excited at creating something new, completely out of my head based on logic and no small amount of insanity.. these guys get scared and complain a lot. Which does make me wonder who’s running all those start ups.. surely they didn’t find their solution ‘on the web’?? And I’m damn sure they don’t whine so much about doing something hard.

5. They’re deliciously naive. 

My very first encounter with a millennial was the day one walked into the CEO’s office, uninvited, to interrupt a video conference with the CEO’s boss man in Japan. The guy – cargo pants and creased button down – just wanted to say ‘what’s up?’ and introduce himself. Thankfully the CEO has a sense of humor and paused his conversation to say ‘hi’ and ask for a more convenient time but the millennial was unflummoxed. He didn’t see what the issue was at all. As we all stood askance as he headed off for a bagel and some coffee, I couldn’t help but admire his moxie. Damn if I’d had that self confidence at 21 I could have done anything. Instead I spent 10 yrs working really hard and hoping that someone noticed me enough to give me more work. I naive to think that work was enough.  This guy was naive enough to think that the CEO cared that he’d joined his company. One of the 40 that day.Where as my naivete was based on not realizing how relationships and corporate sucking up worked, these guys are the opposite. They expect that everything is based on relationships and sucking up. The work, the quality of the deliver… that’s just secondary. Which is why my millennial thought he’d get a head start on his career by introducing himself to the CEO, maybe proposing a golf game, discussing a good wine he’d tried that weekend. All before he’d even powered up  his laptop for the first time. I don’t want to crush their spirit and I know they’ll get it beaten out of them as they world 14-16 hr days for the next few years.. but its nice to know that I wasn’t the only naivete starting out. They’re still doing it. Just with a lot more confidence and a lot more creased clothing.

I don’t mock our millennials’ for their  differences. I’m sure my seniors found me ridiculous with my discount pant suits, glued together shoes and common use of the term ‘whilst’. And to be honest, I admire their confidence, their ‘I can do anything right now‘ air of privilege. Its far faster and easier to temper naivete than to grow self confidence.. so I’m sure a cure for cancer is just around the corner.
I just hope non them are in charge of anything nuclear or you know, important, for a few years.

I will not be getting promoted (again)

 Its that time of year again, when your HR director sends out reminders and once again, you grit your teeth and try to remember what you did last year (outside of a startling consumption of coffee).
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, I’ve had the same job title now for over 10 years and despite year on year mumbling about promotion, its now less likely than my upcoming marriage to Edward Norton (no Mum.. that was a joke).

Why? Because I just can’t take it as seriously as everyone else. I love my job. I love my company (and no, there is no gun at my head), and I really enjoy the people I work with. But I just think most of the things I worry about, red lining documents through 13 iterations, re-edits at 11pm, Saturday morning CEO calls… well its just not that important. Some of it is downright silly. Evidence? Oh sit down for this…

Some of the activities I did this year as part of my job;

  • Videoed and edited my executive leadership team singing the 12 days of Christmas
  • Spent a few hours researching words in every language which ‘imply connectivity, coming together, spider web-ish, networked’ in order to name a document
  • Hosted a photo shoot for a newly slim male senior executive who didn’t want a fat picture in the corporate yearbook (and yes, I had to utter the words ‘look at me over your shoulder’)
  • Found a way to not mention gay people in a corporate communication about supporting gay people
  • Taught my boss and several senior executives how to Skype each other
  • Tried to get a donation from NPR
  • Informed a junior resource that ‘fit people’ weren’t an ethnic group..
  • … and neither were ‘fat people’
  • Asked 3 interns to stop their parents calling me with their HR questions
  • Educated senior executives on the concept and use of a calendar
  • Provided coaching to an executive who claimed ‘everybody hates me no matter what I say’
  • Ran alongside the CEO taking notes as he walked and smoked a cigar
  • Endured a ‘lady date’ with a non English speaking female executive, who after 3 drinks asked me how to meet men in Denver

Its a bizarre job. Its ridiculously fun sometimes, but I think I knew my career was over the day I was brushing dandruff off an executives neck before he took the stage at a conference.
Wonder if I can include that in my self review?

No one told me my career was over

When you’re 21 and still have that ‘new car’ college smell about you, the world is yours. There is no ceiling on your future, your wool suits are a scratchy size 4 and you only need 5 hours of sleep a night. You are a missile on a path to success.
Entry level positions suck no matter what school you went to, or who your father is. However your enthusiasm is fed by the excitement of learning how things work, who ‘you’ are at work and feeling like you’re achieving something. As the years pass, you’re promoted alongside your peers (male and female) and the notion that people just have ‘a job’ is something you internally look down upon. Why have a job when you can have a ‘career’? People with jobs have given up. They don’t care and simply seem content to ‘do work’ and go home.
Myself, I was my job.
From 7 in the morning until 9 most nights, throughout the weekend and even on my birthday eve, I worked. Striving for approval, acceptance and the next rung up. I knew I wasn’t going to be a NASA employee, but I did think that the term VP or Partner wasn’t excluded from my future. I was as good as my peers, sometimes smarter, even if my sense of humor got me into trouble a few times.
A move to the US and I kept on working. Now I was flying every week to churn out my 12-14 hour days in Minneapolis, Chicago, San Francisco, Dallas and Miami and loving it. Sure my dating life was whistling in the wind (I once dated a guy who lived in Vancouver – yes Canada- because it was on my way home from a project). No reasonable guy wants to date someone who’s gone 5 days a week and mentally distant the other 2.
On the eve of my 30th birthday I realized that I knew no one – really- in the city in which I owned an apartment, and that nothing would change unless I de-prioritized work. Guys seemed to be able to make it work, but then women always seemed to be more flexible and I wasn’t about to embrace lesbianism just for professional ease. No, I needed to actually put down roots and slow down. Put my career on hold. Grow some friends. Maybe find a mate.
So I refused to fly.
And was summarily fired.
Nothing like losing your job – your life and whole identity- to make you reconsider the role of work in your life. I felt invisible. Embarrassed. A loser.
I returned to work but without my fire or any real passion. After being kicked to the curb so easily by the only company I’d ever worked for, I didn’t really take the next step that seriously. I couldn’t give of myself like that again –  I couldn’t give my heart away a second time. Sure I worked hard, I  delivered every day and was praised for my efforts, but my drive was gone and my days ended promptly at 6pm. I moved jobs a few times, increasing my responsibility with every increase in salary, but the look I saw in my bosses eyes wasn’t one of recognition – a fellow road warrior, a herculean slavish worker bear- but one of dismissal. I was just someone in a job. Someone who left at 6pm.

‘Good, but you know, not really committed’

I once tried to get back in the game, moving to Seattle and handing over my soul for a PC and a corporate t shirt. Soldiering with the very big wigs and back on the 24/7 schedule. My smartphone never stopped beeping, day or night. But this time my body wouldn’t cooperate. Anxiety attacks, allergic reactions, thyroid and gastrointestinal issues  all signaled that we wanted out, even if mentally I was never more challenged or excited. However once my blood pressure hit the 260’s and I couldn’t stop my hands from shaking, I decided had to leave.. or consider my own personal longevity.

I don’t recall ever saying to anyone that I didn’t care about my career, that I didn’t take my work seriously. I love what I do, and I’ve been told I’m good at it. I will work weekends when asked, and I’ll sit on email at 8 or 9pm if I need to. But will I do it willingly and consistently? No. My days of coming into work on a Sunday morning, to ‘get ahead’, or staying late to make something perfect? No – life is too short and I am, when it comes down to it, just a number. The impact on my life of those hours is far greater than they would be on any company’s bottom line.
As a result my career has stalled, permanently it seems. I’ve not been promoted in title for over 5 years. My responsibilities have increased three fold and I’ve the trust of senior level executives.. but I remain in the same role, doing the same solid job. I watch with a smile as I see my peers and now my juniors promoted three or four times ahead of me. Of course many, if not most, are men. All have families. And all work like dogs. They never lost their drive and as a result, their careers continue to skyrocket.
I never decided to stop progressing and I’ve never lost my ambition. I’ve not stopped trying, growing or learning. I’m eager to take on new challenges and learn new things.  I’m thrilled at my small successes and even though I choose life over work, work is still a big part of who I am for 8 or 9 hours every day.
No one told me my career was over. but I guess the decision was made for me based on some intangible assessment of my personality, skills or ability. I will not rage, I will not moan but I will keep trying. The world is still mine. I am still that missile on a path to success. It just might not look like I thought it would. And hopefully the clothes are more comfortable this time around.