#1 Rule Before Starting a New Job

I was leaving my first corporate job after 3.5 years to move back to Milwaukee. My last day fell on a Thursday and I was starting my new job bright and early Monday morning. BIG MISTAKE. I left zero time to unplug and re-set, let alone enough time to organize from the move. I was so excited to be back in Milwaukee, I wanted to start right away. A year into my second corp. gig, I was already putting my two weeks in (which I’ve talked about here and here) and was in the fast lane to start my next venture. They wanted me asap, like any company usually does, but it’s really important you give yourself time. They’ve lived without you this long, one more week isn’t going to be detrimental. This time around I made sure to take some time off. Hell, I needed it and deserved it after the past year.

So, I took two weeks off before starting my third company move in hopes of completing some long overdue tasks on my list. I honestly contemplated taking three weeks. I mean, when does one really get the chance to take time off worry free? When I would take vacation from the office, there was this daunting reminder in the back of my head of the hundreds of emails I would come back to. Changing jobs isn’t something that happens all too often, so I decided to take full advantage.

I’m laughing as I’m writing this, because I seriously thought about being a stay-at-home fur mom if I had the opportunity. We have an 18 month old, 60lb English Bulldog that we adore. (He has his own Instagram account if you’re curious, @mortythebulldog). But, during my two weeks off, here is what I learned:

  • I really love Ellen. I’ve always wanted a job where I could be home in time to watch her everyday at 4. These past two weeks, I made sure I did.
  • Our neighborhood mows their lawns every Wednesdays. Like, everybody but us. We’re the household that mows on Saturday when we have off. (Almost all of our block is retired).
  • I would be obese. Late afternoons I’d have the urge to make chocolate chip cookies. And in doing so, I’d eat half of the batter.
  • I really wouldn’t be in better shape (like I thought I would be if I wasn’t at my desk all day). I only went to the gym on the weekends.
  • While I love that my house was spotless during this time, I think I cleaned it just that many times over again. “Oh, Morty spilled water out of his dish.”  “Oh, Morty’s bone is all over the carpet.” “There is 10lbs of dog hair glistening on the hardwood this morning.” “There’s five pieces of laundry to do.” I became obsessive.
  • While I love Morty to the end of this world, I could not stay home every day. If all of my friends were home, and there was a money tree in my backyard, that would be a different story. But right now, it’s just not for me.

All in all, girl was ready to work again! The time off was relaxing, recharging, positive, and just what I needed. But not a day longer!

formyselfbymyself

Best,

THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW CAB

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The Book that Changed my Life

Everyday I used to come home from grade school, pull a book from my shelf, sit on my yellow plastic chair and read to my imaginary class. Every day. I loved to read. As I grew older, this started to fade but I’ve noticed  I’m gravitating back to reading again (thank you Amazon Prime). Instead of picking up the newest gushy Nicholas Sparks’ novel, I’ve been going for the motivational reads.

The book, Mange Your Day-to-Day: Build Your Routine, Find Your Focus & Sharpen Your Creative Mind forwarded by Scott Belsky is life changing. I’m serious, life changing people. The book is comprised of little sections with advice from 20 creative minds who literally share some of the greatest advice in the most basic way; short excerpts that are easy to understand.

These are my top three takeaways that I promise you need to take the time to read, let sink in, and put into action:

  • Creative Work First, Reactive Work Second:

How much of your day is dictated by the people and the world around you—the reactive work? You come into the office, open up your email and your day is spent responding and filing each email until you can get your inbox back to manageable state. We’re constantly pulled in multiple directions, have an inbox full of time-sensitive emails, and meetings to the brim. You leave the office, come in the next morning to open your email and continue to respond to emails from your boss, colleagues and clients.  This continues for days, weeks, and maybe even months. You physically see your inbox being cleared, but when you reflect back on the week you can’t pinpoint anything monumental you’ve accomplished. And if you did, it’s most likely someone else’s deadline and not something that’s directly related to your goals.

Raising my hand high because I’ve totally fallen prisoner to my day-to-day reactive work. After reading this book, I’ve completely changed my outlook. I’m most creative in the morning between 8:30-11am. How do I know this? I’ve tracked my progress. I’m most focused with a fresh mind while I’m drinking my coffee. This is the time I take to spend on my goals and it usually means closing my Inbox so I’m not distracted by incoming emails.

  • 3X3 Post-Its:

This is where you write your to-do lists from now on. The longer your list, the more likely your motivation will decrease. At the end of each day, I write three of the most important things on a post-it that I want to accomplish the next morning. Writing out my to-do’s helps me to leave the office at the office. I feel organized and that I have a plan to accomplish something of importance the next day.

  • The Power of Frequency:

Frequency makes starting easier and keeps ideas fresh. We all deal with these internal things. For example, you’re working on a project and boom, you have the urge to check Facebook. Four minutes later your back to working on your project and then you remember you had to make that dentist appoint. And then you realize, it’s almost 11am and you should check your personal email. All of these distractions effect our creativity, progress and our minds. Work to keep the distraction out and practice it daily. I’ve started taking time out each morning (when I’m refreshed and most creative) to start chipping away at my goals. I’ll keep my phone in my purse and email closed so I’m not distracted. It’s hard to turn my brain off from wondering what emails are coming in or what’s happening on social media, but the more you practice your focus the more your brain gets used to working on the task at hand. There’s a complete section called “Finding Focus in a Distracted World” that is so damn interesting, but that’s for another time.

If you’re working towards something little every day, you will see benefits in the long-run. Even if you can only carve out 30 minutes, do it. For example, let’s say you’re working a second job to save up. Your tips when you leave don’t seem like you can buy much, but when you add all of them up over the past three months, they can make an impact. Think of your creative sessions like this.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

These are just a few of the points that really spoke to me, but there are so many other great ones in here. I carry this book in my purse, and re-read sections of it weekly. It’s just so. damn. good. I encourage you to pick it up and be amazed and the changes you’re capable of.

takethebull

BEST,

THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW CAB

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When You Work for Satan

Satan. The Devil. Same thing. I’m sure most people, at some point in their career, work for someone that is just beyond explanation. They are so crazy you begin to question everything about yourself; your career, your intelligence, your work ethic, your capabilities.

I’m by no means perfect, but I can assure you I’m not the actions of some of those people inside that dark office I used to call my job. Sure, I may have a daily Starbucks addiction and my $5 could be better spent elsewhere but that’s not crazy, that’s commitment. And a sign of my honesty. When you can admit to your faults, you’re not crazy. It’s when you think nothing is wrong, that what you’re doing is ethical, motivating, the actions of a great leader and mentor; that’s when it’s bat shit crazy!

I literally still dream about this place. It haunts me at night when I’m trying to peacefully sleep. I rode the storm for as long as I could and thankfully, was rewarded a position in a company that is Heaven on Earth in comparison. Here’s a little dose of what my days used to be like. If you can’t answer these questions, you don’t work for the Devil. Maybe their spawn, but not the Devil.

  • Do you come into the office at 6:45am with a sticky note slapped on your computer that reads, “Come see me.” Um, lady it’s 6:45am, I’m here early to get some of my work done while I drink my coffee before my day of you. No? Then you don’t work for Satan.
  • Do you get pulled into your bosses office before a big meeting and as she closes the door says, “I want you to SHINE. To get up there and show you’re passionate. Be involved. Show you want this promotion!” That would be all fine and dandy if it wasn’t a bunch of, what’s that word, oh…horse shit. I know the girl you interviewed for this “said position” from a competitor of ours, so let’s stop pretending this position is mine for the taking.
  • How about 5am text messages from your boss on your VACATION. Please tell me this isn’t real life. No? Then you definitely don’t work for Satan.
  • One of my favorites. “I want to be copied on EVERY single email. Even if you have to go to the bathroom-copy me.” This is definitely Satan speaking.
  • You deliver the Monday reports on her desk at 8:31am. “I would like all reports by 8:30.”
  • That moment your boss asks you to PRINT out your emails before sending, so she can re-read them and adjust any wording in red marker. Ah, the red marker gave yah away! It’s definitely Satan!

Beware

Best,

THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW CAB

 

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Why Your Shitty Jobs Are Important

I totally get it now — I know what a shitty job is.

For some, it may be the job that’s a stepping stone to land the one you accrued lots of student debt for. My shitty job, however, happened to be at the one place I was supposed to love. You know, the job that brought you and your significant other to the same city, included a raise, and meant working on product you deeply enjoyed.

I was naive to think my first job out of college was a clone of what was to come. I loved the people I worked with – they made the long hours manageable. We formed a family bond through our daily workouts and regular happy hours. But, I had put in my two weeks and was leaving to move to Milwaukee for a normal personal life. I knew the work would differ from company to company, but I never imagined the mentality of a company could go against the grain of everything I stood for.

I was a mere ten days into my new position when I knew this definitely wasn’t for me (and it had nothing to do with the actual work!) It was the mentality, environment and management style – or lack thereof. They say a company’s corporate culture stems from the top down. If the SVP and the VP are storming down the hallway demanding the latest sales report, micromanaging why that specific button was approved on a women’s blouse, and being emotionally unattached to their subordinates is exactly how the next tier of management will treat their employees. It’s a terrible domino effect and I was caught in the storm.

You had to fight for yourself. And when I say fight for yourself, I mean you would come into the office and feel like you were working alone, struggling to stay above water. Your own team didn’t have your back. Your manager or director would be the first to throw you under the bus to her boss and vice versa. You’d be in a meeting and if you didn’t utter a sentence exactly the way they wanted you to, you were abruptly interrupted. You would be given direction to do something and then questioned the next day why you did it, because overnight that became wrong. You weren’t empowered to make your own decisions. You would receive shitty emails from your boss who sat an arms length away from you instead of being a professional who could have a face-to-face conversation. Management styles were mean-girl approaches.

For part of my time at the company, I reported to someone who didn’t want me to succeed. Someone who was so insecure about themselves they needed to make me feel inferior. This someone hadn’t promoted a direct report in years. In fact, she could hardly keep a direct report. She couldn’t develop anyone under her because she was too afraid they would shine above her. However, she’s still in her position because management allows it. They received countless complaints from the poor souls that reported to her far longer than I did, but they would rather move her direct reports to different areas than deal with the real issue. Poor management can run a company into the ground and that’s exactly what continues to happen. They are constantly losing great talent because what is right to do is also uncomfortable.

I made it one year before leaving. I had spent a year trying to figure out what I was doing wrong. I blamed myself and thought I was the problem. I needed to change. I had never not gotten along with my teammates or disagreed with most everything my manager and director said. I spent countless hours on the phone with my previous colleagues and mentors who reassured me I wasn’t the issue. I cried in rush hour traffic more times than I can count. I dreaded Sunday nights and looked forward to the 15 minutes I could get away to grab coffee or lunch. Finally, I received the call from a company I was dying to get into that they were sending over an offer. Hallelujah. Halle-fricken-lujah. I have made it!

My last day here wasn’t like my last day at my previous company. I was slammed with to-do’s and working to clear my inbox. I didn’t want to leave a shit storm because I still cared about the work and wanted it to be done well. My former boss (the one I had reported to for a short time) actually never wished me well or said goodbye before I left. I had heard her ways got to HR and our SVP, so she thought it was easier to take her actions and bad behavior out on me (again). I’m reminded of another great quote, “People have to pretend you’re a bad person so they don’t have to feel guilty for the way they treated you.”

In the end, you will work for a company or for someone who is unimaginable. Getting through can seem almost impossible. I promise you, better days are ahead. And while you may not be able to see it now, you will be thankful for that shitty job one day. It will give you perspective, experience and it sure as hell will help you to appreciate the struggle when you get where you’re going.

Keep your head up! You’re strong– you’re a damn warrior.

GROW

**After I finished writing this entry, I read a quote that said, “Don’t sacrifice your inner peace to point out someone’s true colors. Lack of character will always reveal itself in the end.” While I believe this to be true that shit storm I just wrote about is exactly the purpose of this blog. It’s not to sugar coat things or pretend that people in your professional life won’t mistreat you. It’s easier to avoid the uncomfortable than deal with it — and I’m just here to deal with it.

 

BEST,

THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW CAB

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Calling In Sick

Let’s face it – calling in sick in your working life is going to happen.  Every year I get the cold that lasts for two weeks and if I’m really lucky, the Christmas flu. At some point, you’ll really need to use the sick time your employer allows. However, there’s definitely a fine line when it comes to using it. You don’t want to be stamped as that person who stays home over the slightest sign of a cough. Is there a written rule about this? No, but I can guarantee your co-workers are taking mental notes of your sick days. Here’s what I follow:

If I can help it, I don’t call in sick the first year at a new job. When you’re new to a company, other co-workers are taking note of your habits. No, they’re not stalking you. They just notice you may pick-up a daily Starbucks, workout at lunch, or are always late to leave the office. You don’t want them to see a pattern in not showing up to work. But, sometimes you just can’t help it if you’re sick.

The flu is my gauge. If there is any vomiting going on, I’m on house arrest. If not, I’m going into work.

A few weeks ago, I had flu-like symptoms that included a headache, fever, and cough. It was everything but the vomiting and the last thing I wanted to do was get out of bed and head to the office–but, I forced myself. I stocked up on day-time Theraflu, sparkling water, tea and cough drops and headed in. The morning was rough, but as the day went on and I got into a rhythm,  I actually got a lot accomplished.

For me, writing an email that I’m not coming in because I’m not feeling well is more of a hassle than it’s worth. Not to mention, I’m not going to be able to rest at home knowing there’s work for me waiting at the office. Keep in mind, your co-workers will also take notice. This is probably the biggest one for me because I’ve worked with co-workers who are sick almost monthly. Each time we received the email that they’re conveniently sick on a Monday or Friday, it was the office joke. I’m pretty sure no one would want to be labeled as the office sick-time abuser – that’s just embarrassing.  I would prefer to be remembered as the person who always pushes through, so when the time does come that I’m terribly ill I can have a clear mind about staying home.

One of my friend’s moms actually hadn’t used a sick day in over 15 years. 15 years. The day she did call-in sick she had everyone sending her emails, phone calls and even flowers to send their condolences and check up on her. This is how I’d prefer to live my work-life. Little extreme, but definitely the end of the spectrum I prefer to be on.

nomatterhowyoufeel

BEST,

THE GIRL IN THE YELLOW CAB

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