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So, kids are mostly raised & I've just gone back to work…

Archive for the ‘working’

Junior’s Almostgotit, too.

August 06, 2009 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, first job, parenting, parenting college students, student job, working 5 Comments →

My son was sent home early from work today.

“Spill it,” I ordered.

My son is a straight-A student – a peach in the humanities, working in a job calling more for the precise technical skills of a turnip.

Oh, you know what I mean.

My son would be the first to admit that he’s better at writing papers than following complicated procedures that change on a regular basis.

He’s a man of words working where much is assumed and few things are written down. He’s in a place where procedural initiative is not encouraged, but procedural questions are not encouraged either.

My son often finds it confusing.

It’s been a particularly stressful week. There’s a ton of work, the pressure is mounting, and everyone has been making mistakes. The supervisor has been upset with everyone – but especially with my son.

My son bitterly hates making mistakes, even though mistakes are part of the learning process.

My son’s supervisor, meanwhile, tells him mistakes are unacceptable, but often forgets that it is a supervisor’s job to provide enough training (and supervision) so that fewer mistakes are made.

Welcome to the real world, my son.

Ulysses Grant at Cold Harbor
Ulysses Grant at Cold Harbor (from the National Archives)

Thing is: it’s a job, when many people don’t have one.

Moreover, this job is paying for my son’s college text books and other expenses. It’s not a great fit, and he won’t work there forever, but he needs to work there now.

Using his non-technical but super-charged brain therefore, my son decided to come up with some solid ideas tonight about how he can improve his performance, and plans to present them to his supervisor tomorrow. Chin held high.

Thatsa my boy!

RE the old photo at left: My son told me about it during our conversation today — noting also that my father has a copy of it hanging in his home office. It is a portrait of Ulysses S. Grant, taken during the Civil War Battle at Cold Harbor.

Cold Harbor was the lowest point of General Grant’s career. Thousands of Union soldiers lost their lives in a hopelessly lopsided battle against the Confederates.

It was a battle Grant regretted for the rest of his life.

Nevertheless, mistakes and all, Grant still outmaneuvered Robert E. Lee in the end and won the war. My son hopes to win this “career” thing in the end, too.

I think he will.

Playing to win: new rules of womenomics

June 02, 2009 By: almostgotit Category: employment, feminism, playing to win, unemployed, womenomics, working 12 Comments →

Katie Hnida, viagra sale a 1999 placekicker for the University of Colorado 

Hat tip to Kathy, ed who alerted me today of the Salon.com article,
She works too hard for the money: The authors of Womenomics challenge professional women to say no to overly demanding jobs — even in a recession. 

We are in tough times indeed. Jobs are scarce. Unemployment is more common, and potentially more devastating, than ever. Folks already at a career disadvantage (mothers returning to the work force, for instance) are at a greater disadvantage than ever, too.

And along with the increase in unemployment is an growing deluge of career advice.

How should a person navigate these ever-deepening waters? At the risk of adding to the flood, Almostgotit would like to propose that

  1. Even the best advice is only as good as it is also useful, and
  2. If anyone’s advice fails to work for you, even if it comes from experts, you should throw it out.

Take the Harvard-Business-School-Approved“Best alternative to negotiated agreement (BATNA)” approach, for instance.  What if you really don’t *have* a great alternative plan, nor the confidence to act as if you do? What if you are, as increasing numbers of us are, so depleted by fighting a series of losing battles that your ability to follow — or benefit from – ANY standard plan of action has all but vanished?

Do you then settle for the idea (whether objectively true or not) that you have no other choice but to accept a low-paying or otherwise exploitive job, thus feeling like even more of a failure?

Perhaps a change of metaphor is called for here, instead, (or a “reframing,” if you prefer cognitive psychology talk.)

For many women, this may mean acting more like the stereotypical ballsy male. According to many of my own career advice books, sports metaphors are very popular with men. Perhaps they should be more so with women, too… especially in what is still a male-dominated workforce. Why not try it and see if it works better than drumming up a demoralizing “Plan B”?


Well-behaved women seldom make history.
- Laurel Thatcher Ulrich
Professor of History, Harvard University


Imagine you are the star quarterback. If that feels too arrogant, Get Over It! When it comes to furthering your own career, you SHOULD consider yourself a star, so that you can also present yourself as such.

If you are a woman, imagine that you are the most badass, muscular female quarterback ever to hit the pros, and that you’ve made it all the way to the Super Bowl!

You are on the verge of winning it all!

And here’s the thing: star quarterbacks play to win. They intentionally don’t HAVE an alternative plan.

Can you imagine a coach telling his team before the Super Bowl that they should play hard but also be prepared to lose? And what if the coach also insists on a time out so he can tell your team how long the odds are, not because he expects you to beat those odds but because he insists that you all be prepared to graciously concede the game to the stronger team?

Would a badass star quarterback on the verge of winning the Super Bowl really put “Being a Good Sport” at the top of her agenda?

And would she still want to play for such a coach?

If imagining yourself as a star quarterback is not a helpful metaphor for you, then by all means throw it out.

But if it resonates at all, then you might want to consider: what are your friends, colleagues, coaches, and even family members telling you about your own merits and abilities? Are they supportive, or are they really counseling you to lose?

As if you needed any more discouragement, come on now!!

Play to win. Men play that way, and so should you.

“What’s this about your needing a check?”: the perils of working for a nonprofit

February 17, 2009 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, careers, feminism, nonprofit, volunteering, working 11 Comments →

Ephesian Artemis

Ephesian Artemis:
the multi-breasted woman

Last summer, buy a friend of mine agreed to do some professional work for the church where she is also a member. At that time, prostate she told the church that she would also need to be paid for that work, treatment and to her best understanding, the church agreed.

Her first check was late, and didn’t come until my friend asked for it. Her second check never came at all.

While last on the premises because of the work she was doing for the church, my friend was confronted in front of several other people by the church’s (salaried) budget director. “What’s this about your needing a check from us?” he demanded. “We don’t have that kind of money!”

My friend was both surprised and embarrassed by this encounter. Later, she was also angry.

So am I.

Why do churches and other non-profits so seldom understand that their business matters still need to be handled in a business-like fashion? Why should professionals be expected to work for free, especially those who have already entered into an agreement that they would be paid? The business manager himself is a full-time, paid employee of the church. Why did he fail to see any irony here, himself?

One wonders at the unexamined assumptions going on here. What additional rights do we all presume nonprofit organizations to have, including the organizations themselves? Is it relevant that my friend is a member of the church (as is the business manager?) Is it relevant that my friend is a woman, or that she used to be married to a fairly wealthy man?

My friend is also a highly-trained professional, is currently a full-time student who must carefully choose her commitments, had already negotiated terms with the church, had already heavily discounted her fee for them, and even had generated income for the church, through her work for them, which was more than adequate to cover her own fees.

What would you do, in her situation?

Handling the elephants

September 16, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, budgeting, economizing, finances, gas prices, saving money, unemployment, working 7 Comments →

Where will we put the elephants?
My 12 year old made this collage. It is captioned thus: “If we cut down the forests, where will we put the elephants?”

Today I’m trying to organize a lot of elephants myself.  After a weekend with gas hitting $5 a gallon, followed by yesterday’s stock market crash, it occurs to me that I need to do a better job at saving money *and* retaining the few clients I currently have.  Nor is feeling like a limp noodle for a week or so any excuse (though yes, thank you, I’m feeling much better.)

So:  I started off the morning with several car-less errands to save gas*and* get my sloggy old elephant blood going.  Trotted to the vet for some flea meds, then to the drug store, then to the housewares outlet store, and finally to the market for dinner makings.  The chicken from the market went into the crockpot when I got home, and that’s to save some money. 

Cutting up and pulling the skin off a dead chicken — eww.  I’d forgotten about that part of cooking.   Usually I just buy skinless chicken breasts, and *that’s* when I actually cook anymore.  Why aren’t we all vegetarians, again? 

And for this afternoon:  phone calls, emails, and hunkering down with my word processor. 

How about you?  How are you responding to the economic news of late?


Trust Your Nose

July 17, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Career Transitioning, Uncategorized, employment, goals, instincts, job search, jobless, jobs, polyvore, umemployment, vocation, working 4 Comments →

And another thing.

I’ve developed a pretty keen sense of smell in my old age, and it’s nearly always “right on the nose.”  Last year I turned down a management job at one company just months before the entire company went under; seven months ago I resigned my directorship of another and have watched them lose acres of ground since — as I’d warned them they would.  Nor have the latter found anyone willing to be my replacement. 

Many years ago, I ignored an “icky” smell at another job, until I had to leave that position when we moved to Canada.  I later found out that my boss had sexually assaulted my predecessor. 

My nose knows.

I don’t really want the news my nose is bringing me now, because it’s making me too picky.  I need a job.  I could persevere and take one of these stinky jobs anyway, but I already know the likely outcome: been there, done that.  So for now,  I’m sticking with the schnozz.

Related posts:
Employers: It’s Your Turn to be Fabulous
Un-Fabulous Employers: Asking for Too Much Upfront
Blind Box Ads: Bad-Ass, or just Bad?

Gas at $7 a Gallon? We’ll Be Just Fine.

May 05, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Uncategorized, economy, recession, working 4 Comments →

Stretch S.U.V.Ann at Compensation Force mentions a number of articles today that highlight the impact of rising fuel prices on employment relations, with particular focus on how much employers can do, or should do, to mitigate the effect of these costs for their employees.  The most provocative question these days seems to be, ‘What happens when gasoline reaches $7 per gallon?’

Answer:  we’ll deal with it.  Both because we can, and because we’ll have to.   Ultimately, though, we can’t just leave matters to our employers, or to the government either. 

Nor will it hurt nearly as much as we think.

Eventually, we each have to come to terms with our own appetites, or learn how to change them.  One has only to live for a while in any country but ours to see the changes that very high fuel prices have already wrought.   We were amazed at how quickly we adapted in both England and Canada – two countries very like our own, but which have been living with high fuel costs for years.

Revelations: Everyone, even old ladies, can ride bicycles!  Bicycles work with dresses, and even when it rains (fenders, plastic bags, and general good cheer are the secret)!  Buses aren’t just for poor or crazy people!  Finding a parking place can take just as long as walking to a bus stop! Life without a car payment (or insurance payments, or repair bills, or gas charges either) is quite a marvelous thing!  Walking to and from a job is a wonderful way to clear the head, think things through,  and watch the seasons change!  Commuting without also having to drive is a great time to read, catch up on work, or just people watch!

Ours is a country built for the automobile, with subdivisions to go along with our SUV’s.  We need to build more livable cities so people will choose to live in them.  More of us should try to live where we work.  It’s good to live where we shop, too.  We need to build sidewalks again. 

Public transport must be part of the solution, of course, and yes it usually requires public subsidies.  However,  many Americans don’t realize we’ve already been subsidizing private and commercial transport for years – massive amounts of public funds have built and maintained our highways rather than our buses and trains, though the latter are a much more efficient way of transporting both goods and people.  And of course we have enjoyed artificially-low gasoline costs for years as well, also thanks to heavy subsidies.  A ready supply of cheap fuel has contributed to our preference for ever-larger vehicles, a preference which has persisted thus far even in the face of rising fuel costs.  (read this!)

Sigh.  We are yet a young and stubborn people.  

Fortunately, we are also a resilient people.  We will manage higher fuel costs, and we will manage even better if each of us carries our own bit of the load. 

Creative Commons image by iirraa

The First 90 Days: More on Career (or Life) Transitioning

April 29, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Career Transitioning, Chapter 2, Uncategorized, employment, encouragement, freelancing, non-profit work, success, vocation, working No Comments →

The Wall Street Journal’s online Career Journal  has continued its series of articles called “90 days, drugs recipe ” presumably based on Michael Watkins’ bestseller, stomach ampoule The First 90 Days: Critical Success Strategies for New Leaders at All Levels.  Each WSJ column addresses the most critical things to remember in the first days following a major career transition.

There’s lots of terrific cross-pollination here, buy cialis so if you’re in transition, go ahead and read them all!

~ For more WSJ “90 Days” articles ~

Related Post:

The First 90 Days: Strategic Career Transitions

Six Ways to Work Greener (and Cheaper)

April 20, 2008 By: almostgotit Category: Earth Day, Eco-friendly, Uncategorized, business, conserve, ecological, photography, recycling, reuse, working 3 Comments →

Earth Day is Tuesday, April 22

Cool Creative Commons Photos by Weeping Willow

To quote Kermit the Frog: It’s not easy being green.

Not all of us can commute by bicycle, plant a community garden, or volunteer to wash all of our colleagues’ dishes so they’ll stop using styrofoam. But here are a few of the easier ways to make your workspace more eco-friendly, and most of them will save you money as well.

1. Always turn off your monitor and computer when not in use. Don’t forget to turn off the printer, too! Some folks believe screen savers save energy: sadly, they do not. If you are in the market for a new computer, remember that laptops are more energy-efficient than desktops (they were designed that way, in order to conserve battery life).

2. Take the Stairs. I started doing this when I was twenty pounds heavier, and at first it was hard work. Sometimes I cheated. Finally, though, I decided to pretend that none of the elevators worked, ever. The hardest part? Walking with other people and having to stop mid-conversation so I could hike up the stairs and meet them at the top. Sometimes though, I WON! (Elevators often aren’t time savers. Nor are cars, when you have to search high and low for a place to park them, then walk between car and actual destination. These have been very interesting discoveries of mine…)

3. Think of ways to reduce your business meeting travel. Besides contributing to global warming, the use of gasoline and airplane fuel isn’t getting any cheaper. Travel is a time investment, as well, and your time has monetary value too. Therefore, many businesses (and independent consultants) are using more virtual world technologies instead of physical travel. The key is to choose the right tool. Email and instant messaging are great for simple questions; videoconferencing works well for more in-depth conversations. Technology will never completely replace face-to-face human interaction, but it’s a smart way to augment it.

4. Use less paper. Print on both sides. Send more mail electronically. Save scrap paper and use it to take notes. Reuse mailers and boxes, too – you can use mailing labels to add new addresses – and extra blank ones to neatly cover the old printing, if necessary.

5. Buy used. Craigslist and Freecycle are great places to find almost anything you need. Thrift stores (Goodwill, etc.) are great places, too – several of my favorite, designer-label business clothes (not to mention my umbrella, my computer case, and all the storage baskets in my office) were thrift-store finds.

6. Carry your own shopping bags. Reuse old ones, or keep a stash of canvas shopping bags in your car.

The key to being green? You don’t have to start big, just start! And I’d love to hear your ideas, too.

Here are some more online ideas on working greener:

Nature.org: Earthday

Treehugger.com: How to Green Your Work

MoreBusiness.Com: Running your Business

CoopAmerica.org: Buying Green


Related Post:

11 ways to be cheap in honor of Earth Day