Reva Basch (reva) Fri 1 Oct 99 15:00
Terrific metaphor. I might challenge you, though -- in fact, here I am, challenging you -- on the assumption that it's the people who LIKE being part of an organization who end up putting in those ridiculously long hours. Don't you think a lot of that comes out of fear of being fired (or, as you suggest, being passed over for a promotion)? And I think it's important to distinguish between people who love the work they do but who couldn't care less about the organization. You certainly see that in Silicon Valley, at least among the techie types. How =does= one maintain that creative energy to pursue other interests after coming home from a 9 to 5 job? I used to feel drained, and up for nothing more ambitious than reading magazines or staring at TV.
Amy Berger (amyberger) Sat 2 Oct 99 15:21
Glad you liked the balloon! I think we are both talking about different "segments" of workers: 1) the blissful ones who love what they do (yes often techie), avoid politics when possible and are content with their title and salary for the most part 2) the ones that put in very long hours....I feel they do this because they believe their dedication, and (supposedly) high quality output will get them promoted.(which can and does happen to many folks) (And/or they are already an executive and the job just entails a big workload.) And/or they have a negative home-life and work is relatively more comfortable than home. Or they have no home life and no desire to know themselves better...work is a great salve. Typically, the first group is much happier than the second...and often less visible. (I'm not talking about the senior executives, here...of course they have visibility and often like their job and the power and status that goes with it).. Ego plays a big part here, don't you think? How much ego-feeding we need? In terms of the energy-after-work question: Yes, there were jobs where I would be so exhausted from work I'd spend the evening in the bathtub or in front of the TV, with the phone unplugged! Those were my early 'coming up' days as a corporate participant....I had a vision of climbing the ladder, learning as much as I could and manifesting 'success' via bigger and bigger titles/salaries. It wasn't until the recent years...I"d say the last 2.5 years of my 9 to 5 career....that I realized that.first, my bosses at my job were likely not going to promote me due to various reasons and second, that being a Director or VP was not a major goal anymore. At this point I made a CONSCIOUS decision to change my work/career goal to something that would take place outside of a corporate structure. I let go! At that time I put in the minimum hours at work--enough to feel like I had earned my keep---and left the office at 5 everyday. I went home to WRITE and pursue my new career. Life became much more simple and joyous for me...and has been ever since. When I let go of the need for approval...in the form of a corporate promotion...I could breathe easier and just do what I love to do! These days I put in many more hours writing humor and doing my consulting projects---than I did as a corporate gal---and I have MUCH more energy and happines. Don't you think there is a certain kind of individual that thrives in the corporate setting out there, though? Not everyone likes being an entrepreneur...In your opinion, Reva, what kind of personality type, or personal background, is best suited for corporate life? And do you think this 'type' is affected by gender? You've have some incredible job experiences, Reva---you've worked for prominent firms, seen alot and met alot of people. What do you think? I'd also like to hear about the very best boss you've ever had in a corporate setting, and why they were the best....Comments from other folks on this topic are also welcome.
Reva Basch (reva) Sun 3 Oct 99 13:34
Ego is definitely part of it, yes. At least insofar as ego gratification = self-esteem and validation. Interesting question about what kind of individual actively enjoys corporate life. I've been hanging out with entrepreneurs of one sort or another for so long that anything I say is going to sound prejudiced. People who need the security of a regular income more than they do the independence and flexibility of working for themselves? People who feel they can =change= the organization, or make some significant difference there? People who simply thrive in a context where they're surrounded by others, or who get off on the dynamics of office politics, office gossip? People whose social lives revolve around work? My best boss? Is that an oxymoron, like "military intelligence"? My best boss was probably my supervisor at a small research company, who later became my supervisor at the Silicon Valley office of a very large online research software firm. She was "best" because we related to each other as colleagues and equals. I have a real problem with hierarchies, and that just didin't come into play. I knew she knew more than I did, but it was more of a mentoring relationship than an authoritarian one. Amy, you said up there that you realized at some point that you were not going to be promoted due to various reasons. Lots of people would look for a new job at that point. You used it as a springboard to opt out, at least mentally, and sort of get read to cut the cord. I don't know if you want to talk about the circumstances behind your non-promotability (though I could speculate based on my OWN experiences....), but do you find yourself being grateful, in retrospect, to the boss who impelled your decision?
Amy Berger (amyberger) Mon 4 Oct 99 09:36
Yes, I agree with your descriptions of personalities that fit well into corporate life....and... Thanks for the info on YOUR better than average boss, Reva. That must have made your corporate work experience almost pleasant! :-) By the way my favorite boss was one who gave me assignments and stood back to watch my creativity swing into action! He had a great, wry sense of humor and really just allowed me to blossom. He was shocked when I was laid off....by HIS bosses and their supervisors apparently. But that's another weird story! The circumstances behind my non-promotability were that I could sense the company was going through a change and my boss was vulnerable about his own position. But, before that I sensed that my boss wasn't the kind of guy who easily promoted people, especially women. Although he was a good man, for the most part, he had a very perfectionist/narcissistic side to him when he felt insecure or threatened. He worked for a very strong woman (the CEO), often joked about being hen-pecked by his wife and was very close with his 6 year old dsughter. He had a love/hate relationship with women, I felt, and after working for him for nearly a year I saw that he didn't want any other 'strong' women in his circle at work. By promoting me would mean bringing me into the meeting room for discussions....rather than keeping me outside...and that would have been too much for him. The times I WAS included in meetings (and my opinion solicited) I felt a delicate balance to be cute/flirty toward him but try and get my professional opinion across. I realized, sadly, that being cute was more important to him than my opinions, in the long run. I actually DID send out a few resumes during those days....however,when I got laid off three months later I took it as a sign to go for my dream career. Sometimes I think that corporate America likes to promote people that remain quietly dedicated....rather than those that ASK for the promotion.. Although I was instructed to ask for the raise/promotion in every seminar I went to over the years....it only worked half the time! Clearly, there are always other factors involved which influence a corporate promotion. Corporate culture,and understanding it, is key. That's not always easy to do, however. I'd like to switch back to the topic of humor today, Reva. I'd like to know what makes sit-coms thrive today and what other humorists people enjoy out there. And why? Given that I find humor comfort in writing humor I'd like to find out if others do and what things inspire them to write?
Reva Basch (reva) Mon 4 Oct 99 12:08
I hope others will jump in. I find it very hard to write, or to prepare a professional presentation, without at least =some= humorous content. Otherwise it's dry dry dry. WHen I'm speaking, I figure that if I'm bored giving the presentation, my audience is sure as hell going to be bored listening to it. One of the reasons I enjoyed doing a Dummies book (Researching Online For...) is that humor is imperative. My own style tends to be kind of sly and underhanded, with some outrageous wordplay. That actually worked very well for the Dummies series.
Gail Williams (gail) Tue 5 Oct 99 10:49
Forgive the drift, but I was thinking about a story of a barefoot coworker at The WELL... This talented individual removed her shoes as soon as she arrived, which never bothered me, though it was an attention-getter when she darted across an icy deck to the kitchen to get a cup of tea in February. However... (ahem, should I say this?) ...the drawback was the billowing gray cloud of footprints left on the wall by her desk after she moved out of the office. An earthy abstract mural greeted the next occupant of that desk. Our barefoot dancer really left her mark. Fortunately we moved to a new building soon thereafter and left the dreary trompled wall for the landlord to repaint. I think the eliciting of anecdotes from other folks might be one of the cool parts of being a humorist, actually. I bet you hear some wonderful ones now, and that there are many more barefoot workplace stories floating around here, too. And I do have a question about style. When you are telling your amusing incident, do you place yourself as observer and comment on what amused you, or do you make yourself a humorous character and laugh at your own role in the snafu, too?
Amy Berger (amyberger) Tue 5 Oct 99 14:22
Good points all around.... I really enjoy reading others humorists work and also happening upon a humorous twist in non 'humor' books like yours Reva. I think that humor is natural....almost biological in humans and it's great to see how each of us expresses that part of ourselves. I wish that American society wasn't so uptight in terms of overt and unwritten 'rules' about how to live life...because I think it really squashes out natural humor. Rather, I feel we Americans have humor like slapstick, derisive/offensive, sarcastic, etc... forms of humor which are really EXTREME reactions to things. I did read a great book recently which was funny but not harsh. It is called Naked, by David Sedaris. Would highly recommend it. I terms of my humor when I write: I am definitely the main humorous voice....I point out my own flaws and nuisances...in an effort to get my readers to relate to the human condition, and as a result, to smile. I guess I'm slightly self-deprecating,too,but not overly so. I enjoyed your description of the barefoot gal and the tracks she left.... Would love to hear from others about their funny work experiences... about their way of expressing (or enjoying humor), and anything else related. Another thing I wanted to mention in terms of corporate life... Basically I think it's a great way to do therapy (ie heal emotional "baggage") and get paid for it! I remember sitting at a conference table with my boss and her boss and thinking....that's Mom and Dad.. right here, reincarnated! What I meant was I got the opportunity to work out some old stuff with my parents, thanks to my two bosses...the bosses didn't know it and I saved bundles of money on counseling :-) Ever think of it that way?
Reva Basch (reva) Tue 5 Oct 99 15:55
That's fascinating. I have had occasion to analyze why a particular boss or co-worker (or these days, client or colleague) pushes my buttons so, and it's often because of much, much older stuff I've been carrying around. I wanted to pick up on an earlier thread, Amy. We were talking about how, once you weren't so vested emotionally and professionally in a job that wasn't going well, you felt yourself liberated, in a way, free to pursue your own writing and other interests. It made me think of the last real job interview I ever had. It was a great position, but I'd already begun to think that I mgiht go into business for myself, and I took the interview very casually, didn't show a whole lot of passion for the job. I didn't get it, and years later, after my would-have-been-boss and I had become friends through other professional connections, he told me he'd picked up on my ambivalence, and was glad it had worked out so well. In fact, he stopped =just= short of claiming credit for my of-course brilliant career. It was a great favor he'd done me; and in fact, they closed the San Francisco branch of that company within a year after what would've been my start date. I would have lost all that time in getting my own business established, and who knows whether I'd've retained my enthusiasm for doing so. Talk about someone who inadvertently shapes your life!
Sharon Lynne Fisher (slf) Tue 5 Oct 99 16:29
As I recall, people have written articles and books and so on about how companies are like families and people tend to take on roles and so on, particularly in meetings.
Reva Basch (reva) Wed 6 Oct 99 10:00
I know I've worked with the passive-aggressive little brother.
Erik Van Thienen (levant) Wed 6 Oct 99 10:19
And I'm always searching for an understanding older sister ... :-)
Amy Berger (amyberger) Wed 6 Oct 99 16:27
Yes, it is often great to look back on people in our lives that were catalysts to change, for us....if even in a backhanded way. Like yesterday I received a negative response to a bid I sent out from a prospective client.. I was shocked given his light-hearted approach to me the day before! After thinking on it I realized that his refusal may have been a blessing in disguise because I sensed maybe some passive-aggressiveness lurking behind his jolly exterior...(maybe this is just a rationalization, too :-) I loved all the stories about finding family member types at work. I also realize that a good part of my friendships (versus work relationships) are just substitutes for older sisters (per comments from Erik). I have two older sisters whom I love dearly but they cannot be with me for more than two hour stretches without trying to fix me or help me out. When I don't need help there is little left for us discuss.....I long for more of a closeness with them but it is not meant to be. Most of the women friends I have are older than I or are the first born child in their families! Not too surprising....I can smile about it now. What do you all think of love relationships starting at work? I met my husband at a job I took in 1990.....and it was really sweet. But now all I read about is how love at work will lead to sexual harrassment charges and how evil it is! This makes me sad since I tend to think people are more responsible/adult than the media portrays....what do you think? Am I just a hopeless romantic? I also want you to know that I have been asked TWICE to defend bosses who have been accused of sexual harrassment by my colleagues! I talk about this in a light hearted way in my book by the way. All that said, however, I still think work is a great way for people to meet and that relationships can be formed discreetly and with maturity. And yes, there are inappropriate people out there too.
Reva Basch (reva) Thu 7 Oct 99 10:54
That sexual harrassment story was incredible. Well, I met the guy who became my penultimate husband at work. This was way back before sexual harrasment became an issue. I think it makes a big difference when you're not in a direct, or even indirect, reporting relationship. Amy, in the beginning of your book you credit Marsha Sinetar, who wrote Do What You Love, the Money Will Follow (Marsha's a neighbor of mine, so the reference particularly caught my eye). Do you subscribe to that philosophy? It seems to be working for you. Is it ever a mistake?
Amy Berger (amyberger) Thu 7 Oct 99 12:25
Reva, please tell Marsha that I love her book and I've been carting it around for the past several years! Good question regarding Marsha's theories. I think they do work but they often take a long time! I have heard certain successful people say with a smile on their face, "oh,yes, Amy, after twenty years I was an overnight success". I think that understanding your true life-work (that which makes your heart sing) and then somehow building on it every day will eventually reap financial rewards. It is a gentle, trusting process: knowing oneself, learning the art of being patient (that's still a tough one for me), working hard every day. Being consistent. All that adds up to 'the money will follow.' For some, receiving $1000 on a painting is the dream realized...for others it's no less than 50 million dollars on the sale of a company. That money figure is different for each of us. And the process often involves earning our bread and butter while we wait for the 'jam' to appear! I just heard that from an acquaintance yesterday (Tehani Tuitele) and I really liked that expression! I would love to hear from other folks about examples of doing what they love has reaped financial...and/or emotional rewards.
Reva Basch (reva) Fri 8 Oct 99 09:00
I'd like to hear that, too. I know the WELL has a higher than average share of people who've managed to "follow their bliss" and turn it into a livelihood. Meanwhile, Amy just alerted me that she'll be away for the weekend -- and I realized that Monday is the official wrap-up date for our two week interview. She'll be back then to say a few more words.
Amy Berger (amyberger) Mon 11 Oct 99 16:39
Thank you, Reva and David, for a wonderful interview and the opportunity to chat with folks on the WELL. I look forward to reading about some personal success stories from those that are actively embarking on their 'right livelihood' and getting paid for it. Best of luck to you, all WELL members and WELL visitors alike!
Reva Basch (reva) Tue 12 Oct 99 09:32
Amy, thanks so much for being here with us, and good luck with The Twenty Year Itch. (Once more: The book is published by Motivational Magic Press in Fremont, CA. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for details.)
an alternative mike in the theatre of the mind (jberger) Fri 15 Oct 99 14:53
Just popping in with a reminder that Amy will be participating in a booksigning at MediaPlay, in the Great Mall of the Bay Area (in Milpitas, between 680 and 880), from 1:00-3:00 pm tomorrow, October 16th.
Reva Basch (reva) Sat 16 Oct 99 12:06
an alternative mike in the theatre of the mind (jberger) Mon 8 Nov 99 21:18
Amy's second bay area booksigning for "The Twenty Year Itch" is coming up this Friday at 7:30, at the Barnes and Noble in Fremont (Mowry and Fremont Blvd). We are also happy to announce that we got the bluelines back today for our second printing! Things continue to roll along!
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Tue 9 Nov 99 17:25
Great news, jberger! Congratulations to Amy!
be a straw (dwaite) Thu 11 Nov 99 19:03
hey hey! for the amyberger!
an alternative mike in the theatre of the mind (jberger) Sat 13 Nov 99 00:51
The booksigning tonight was extremely successful -- I counted 25 people in attendance (they had to get extra chairs). Amy signed somewhere between 6 and 10 books, plus five more for the store (which makes them non- returnable!)
David Gans (tnf) Sat 13 Nov 99 09:23
Cynthia Dyer-Bennet (cdb) Sat 13 Nov 99 14:28
You must be so proud!
Members: Enter the conference to participate