Archive for the ‘career’ Category

Penelope Says

September 12, 2012

Are you married or single, asks Penelope Trunk at the start of our career coaching call.  I have already told her over email that I feel split between the idea of having a child and birthing the baby of a new career.  She has already suggested that I put myself in a position to pursue a family if I wanted to have one.

Long term boyfriend, I answer.  I am crouched over a phone in a conference room at the office I go to every day from 9-5.  The service is spotty and so my face is pressed up against the window as if that would allow me to hear her message any better.

What’s wrong with your current job, she asks.  You’re a project manager so you have to execute other people’s plans rather than make a strategy of your own, she summarizes before I answer. That fine, she says, keep doing that.

My heart falls. What worked for me in my twenties – sitting enveloped in a second hand executive chair glued to a computer screen night and day –  no longer worked in my thirties.  And yet my current life – taking the subway into Manhattan just in time to sling my bag over a non-executive chair and head to a 10am meeting  – wasn’t working either.  I wanted a new plan.

I hear myself giving examples of how my tenacious attitude had benefited me in the past and how I would rely on what had worked before to get me where I wanted to go next. I sound like I always sound, smart, persistent, with a tinge of crazy.  I was tired of this voice and yet I could not bring myself to accept that there was a reasonable solution in sight.

To Be Continued…

Cool Down, Let Go

October 4, 2011

In college some friends and I got pulled over for driving around with a busted tail light.  “Here, hold this,” said a girl sitting next to me in the back seat of the car, as she handed me a small bunched up bundle wrapped in plastic.  Then I let go of her as my friend.

Picture me standing in front of you now, squeezing two hot rocks in the palm of my hands.  Ouch, I tell you, I’m in pain.  Of course you’re in pain, you say: those rocks you’re holding onto are burning your skin.

I could just put the rocks down, right? Just open up my hands and let them fall to the ground.  But how will I know I’m there unless I’m holding onto something that hurts?

If my hands are open and free I’ll think – now I’m not enough.  Oh, what’s this here, I’ll say, as I pick up another round black smooth object from the ground?   Nice,  I’ll think.  Heavy.   Perfect for holding onto.

I want to be someone who knows a hot rock when I see one.  I want to learn to take a look at that hot rock and say – oh you’re hot!  And then I want to keep walking.

Life, Temporary?

September 28, 2011

Today’s project of fancy is: Tina Roth Eisenberg’s tatt.ly, a site that sells kid friendly temporary tattoos for design interested adults.  Click around and take your pick: four Popsicles, one half eaten? Small rainbow made to fit on your fingertip?  Or, my favorite, a “late” watch – designed as a band that wraps around the wrist – available in multiple colors.

From the looks of it, Tina started by making something that she’d like to buy.  Then she asked other people to design more of the same.  Last up she set up a nice and simple way for people to buy some for themselves.

The process may not have actually been that easy.  There may have been arguments between designers, e-commerce scams, profile troubles and even shipping and handling mishaps.  But from what I can tell from the site’s simplicity – there wasn’t much room left for failure.

Part of the magic could be Tina’s already active group of designy friends.  She’s not only the creator of Tatt.ly – but also of Creative Mornings, known by designy people as a meeting worth waking up for. Her design studio, studiomates, is based in dumbo and houses a collective of create young people.

Is seems that she’s recently  left her client design work behind to develop more of her own products – including TeuxDeux – a friendly looking, free, web based to-do app – with an add on iphone app.  What’s more fun than making lists, I ask you? Trying it out is next up on mine.

The Working Life

September 20, 2011

I’ve spent five years managing web projects for other people and another six managing work for myself.  Both are difficult paths: The self-employed route requires so much DIY chutzpa that it becomes difficult to focus on what it is that you do best.  But having someone else direct your work often means putting aside your priorities and doing your best to understand someone else’s motivations.

It’s hard to feel like you’re getting anywhere when you’re the boss of yourself.  There can be so many accomplishments but there’s not much moving up.  There are few people other people to direct (unless you get funding) and there are a limited amount of projects you can take on and be involved with at any one time.  There’s lots of doing without concrete results and a constant nagging feeling that you may just not be good enough.

There’s nobody else there to tell you to come home after school when all of your other friends are out playing with other friends.  Nobody’s going to remind you that the extra coffee break means fifteen last minutes spent researching or editing except you.  And there’s no job title to reaffirm your role.

Making time to think about what you’re doing before you start doing becomes more important.  Keeping yourself accountable to your long term plans becomes essential.  You become a living breathing work in progress and your life and work fuse together in an almost unrecognizable way.

Yet there are countless blogs and books about creating your own path because making your own mistakes can be so rewarding.  When you’re on your own and you mess up, you can just pick yourself back up and try again.  Because even when things get bad, you’re probably not going to fire yourself.

Every Day Reads

September 9, 2011

Each morning I open a few browser tabs with sites that I’ll refer to throughout the day.  Just having the tabs open serves as a reminder of my ever changing relationships with work, money and opportunity.  Without each of these sites I’d think differently about myself than I do today and for that I am very grateful.

Penelope Trunk’s blog contains a wealth of information about career management, life struggles, happiness research and most recently – homeschooling.  Some day I’ll devote all five paragraphs to Penelope because every post is a gem that has dislodged a new paralysis inducing mind-block.  Rationally minded fuel for a barrage of comments that are as enlightening as the original posts.

Learn about how to come back after bottoming out from a man who cooks crock pot dinners, reuses ziplock bags  and makes friendships that are mutually beneficial.  Longevity and behavior change are themes at The Simple Dollar – a blog about how to have fun being frugal.   Readers write in with detailed life scenarios to get advice on personal finance.

Entrepreneurship has a lot of different facets and most of are covered somewhere in a question or an answer on Quora.  The contributors know a lot about tech start-ups but also are helpful when planning trips, researching job descriptions or discussing the NYtimes paywall.  Treat the format like a micro-blog with writing prompts or comment on other users’ answers to make connections.

All three inspire me to explore myself frequently and with dedication. Even when I don’t agree with a particular idea I admire the evidence of self-interrogation.  Brave work and worthwhile no matter what the cost.