Archive for the ‘Work’ Category

Rooster Hair and Worry Wrinkles

When I woke this morning, I had the most incredible rooster hair. It actually looked really cool. I may just leave it like that.

No.

Rooster hair tells me that I was tossing and turning – evenly – on both sides. And I was – until I woke in a fit of anxiety. My term on this rodeo has been a wild one – awesome and strange. And its coming to an end is causing all sorts of stress for me. I need to decide my next move and I need to that it’s healthy for both me and my family.

My biggest fear is drowning. I tend to think I can handle something for just a little too long – and when I realize I can’t any longer – I can only hope there’s someone there to help me. So right now, I’m trying to find that balance between wanting to do kick ass work and drowning in it. I’m on thin ice.

It’s kind of wild to be sitting here at such a crossroad. I have always been so impulsive – but now, I’m really stuck. I don’t like it. I just don’t know what to do.

My Grandfather was really my idol (I wish he were here right now to steer me right)… his greatest wisdom to me came when I was screaming through puberty and asked how he got along with Grandma so many years. He said, “You have to have your own life and a life together.” That phrase has echoed through me for close to 20 years now and has helped me to find my balance.

In my mind there is a wooden teeter totter. On one side are my Interests (work, adventures, etc.) and the other are my Loves (family, social responsibility, etc.). Sometimes – when things get rocky – I accidentally let Interests slide over to Loves just to keep things from going completely out of whack. But that’s not fairly balanced – and those Interests (especially work) can erode Loves quicker than Sweet Tarts to tooth enamel.

I was inspired to conclude this with some metaphor where I compare myself to a certain shape. As I was browsing through the definitions in Wikipedia, I discovered this Philosophical argument, “In Plato’s Meno, Socrates questions Meno as to the most accurate definition of a figure/shape. By showing the possibility of there being more than one definition, Socrates shows that a definition cannot wholly and accurately describe something and that there is no one absolute definition for anything including shape.”

I like this.

I need to determine the type of environment that suits best my balanced ratio of Interests and Loves. Once I do that, it is mine to create. I am the one who controls my wooden teeter totter of balance. I always forget that part.

In other news, we watched “Wanted: Adventure Woman” on Fox Sports last night. With my dental guard in, I do an exceptional impersonation of Carmen. Ask me about it sometime.

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A London Log

Day 1 – Part 1

Day 1 – Part 2

Day 2

Day 3 – Waking Up

Day 4 – fading Out

Finding the Next Gig

Monday will be 4 weeks. Can you believe it?! It’s amazing how fast a month goes when you’re loving every minute and how S-L-O-W a month goes when you’re miserable.

Anyhow, I need to get myself the next gig. And yes, I have decided I will contract for a while. It has taken me far too many years to accept that I do not like settling down with a company. I guess that stability and consistency makes me feel antsy – like I’m confined. I guess it’s also that I know once I am a mom, I cannot flutter around this way and that – so I want to get all of this opportunist behavior out of my system.

Finding a job is like dating. Most people memorize your interests and profile on LinkedIn and claim to be everything you’ve been looking for. A few handful are bitter and self-loathing and almost want you to help them find a new job. Filtering through that is ever so enjoyable.

The key is to flag buzz words “kick ass,” “process,” “traditional,” “growing so fast,” “working out the kinks – perhaps you can help”

They need to say things like “client loves us,” “proprietary,” “resource manager,” “quality of life,” “learning”

Hi – just like I wouldn’t date someone with loads of baggage, I won’t take a job and help you fix all your crap. You’re the boss. You’re the person with the bigger check. Tell me where my desk is,  tell me of my assignment, tell me where I can find the bathroom, check on me from time to time and we’re good. Helping you work out your process or conditioning myself to work without one, no thanks.

If I go back in time and log all of the times I was happy, it would have been all of the times I was doing what I love to do – organizing chaos, brainstorming, creating, leading, actualizing, optimizing, learning – all that. The times I have been miserable have been when I could not or was not doing what I wanted to do – like swapping static graphics on a Facebook tab or coding a page myself due to lack of resources.

So this will be an interesting exercise.

What is this, by the way?

It’s been one week since you….

Today marks the 6th day at my new gig and the 8th full day here in Portland, OR.

I do not regret my decision to leave my job, nor do I regret the decision to pick up and temporarily move all the way across the country. I do best in extreme chaos. When I feel stressed, I clean messes – helps me to focus and find the right path. I thank God that Jaime supported me. I am lucky that she believes in me as she does.

The gig is awesome. I am working with some really seasoned people from all over the states and Europe. Every day I am challenged to go out of my professional comfort zone. Every day I come away with new skills or honed existing skills.

I have a lot of stress though – being a contractor is stressful because your margin for error is a lot less as is your stability. When I was the director of production at a previous job, I had to let some really great people go (maybe the client didn’t like them, maybe the project was off schedule and we didn’t have enough funds). I try to ask a lot of question and research the e-mail threads and conversation history before I jump in too deep. I also go above and beyond to organize information and the workflow. I want them to know I am doing my homework and that I really care.

The major stressor is “what happens when the gig is done?” This isn’t just work – it’s my life.

I am not sure I want to go back to New York work environment. I’ve loved the energy so much, but it’s not where I do best. Now, I loved my first agency until they worked me to death (which later I learned I had let them do), but after that – just really hated it. Too much chaos, too much sexism. You spend all day doing something, you should love what you do and you should feel that you’re growing. More important, the ratio of what makes you angry to the ratio of what makes you happy should be much in favor of the happy. I was angry nearly every day in New York. Most of the time it was masked behind grinning sarcasm, but sometimes I would just be glaring  mad. That’s not healthy. I couldn’t even make friends because all they or I could talk about was work.

Out here, it’s much more chill. There is still stress and bullshit, but there is a better quality of life. People go out and get a cup of coffee – clear their heads. There’s a community in the office – dog lovers, bikers, skiers, whiskey drinkers (yes). They’re just happy people who want to do good work. And that’s not just the production team, either. The account team is the same way. They like to know what’s going on, but if something goes awry, they’re not going to slap you with a splintered ruler – or cry. Hate it when they cry.

So now’s the time where I need to really think about what’s next. Which is insane, because my campaign completes in 5 weeks – so while it’s “go-time” I’m also planning my next move. I will have to work hard to find balance so that I don’t stop enjoying the moments here in Oregon. Life is about balance, faith, love and happiness. If you have those things, you can find your way through some pretty fucked up shit.

Okay, sun’s rising; time to get ready for the day

You can borrow my car

As you might imagine, there is a considerable difference between the work environment and quality of life here and in the big apple.

Big Apple

“What are your plans this weekend?”

“Laundry! Oh and I might meet some friends for a liquid brunch. I’ll probably be working most of it, though.”

“Yeah, me to, sans the liquid brunch.”

“uh huh.” *continues typing

 

Here (God’s honest truth)

“What are your plans this weekend?”

“Well – I heard Saturday was going to be sunny, so I think I’d like to do something outdoors, maybe a good hike.”

“You know we’re closed on Friday, right?”

“Oh yeah?”

“Monday too.”

“Yeah?!”

“You should go to the coast – or go skiing.”

“Oh yes, we talked about doing that.”

“Yeah, you should. I’m taking a weekend trip with my family, you can borrow my car if you’d like. It’s a stick.”

“Oh, I can’t drive stick, so I don’t think you would want me to borrow your car.”

“Yeah, no I don’t think that would be good.”

“You’re so nice to offer. Thank you.”

*smile

 

Finding clarity in the chaos

Today was exhuasting. It was like being flown into the middle of the jungle, handed a parachute and pushed out of the plane.

This is the painful part. Finding the morsels of information hidden in minds, on napkins, in e-mail, on Sharepoint, in chat windows, on basecamp, on sketch pad; cross-referencing; stitching them together; vetting them with the stakeholders; discovering there are new stakeholders; discovering that there’s actually two other producers in Europe on this and you’re all unclear on who the hell is doing what; asking for a brief /some objectives / something; finally wrapping your head around the scope and then realizing that the idea as incomplete; throwing it all against a wall and trying to determine what the KPIs should be.

And all this while time is running out.

You know you’ll figure it out. You know you’ll have a successful launch. You know it’s too early to really start freaking out. You know you can’t look stressed because your team will doubt you or find you scary or call you “intense.” You know even more that you’ll be forced to do a shot if one more person advises you on its “cluster” status.

But that’s digital production. It’s masochistic and chaotic. It’s a big trippy labyrinth – a wild game with schwag and portfolio highlights as prizes. You work with amazing minds, you act on a dime, you swear you’re going to have an aneurysm and you do not take a deep breath until after it is live.

The first day

Yesterday was my first day on my new job. Would have updated this last night, but when I got home from work, Jaime had surprised with a dozen cherry-red tulips and a delicious steak dinner with roasted fingerling potatoes and Brussel sprouts. I wasn’t about to be like “oh this is so great! can you hang right there, I need to update my blog.”

We woke at 6 so that Jaime could start work. It’s actually nice being up at that time. Everything is so quiet and the view out the window is dreamy with pretty color lights dancing up the mountainside.

Anyhow. At around 9:15, I headed out to work. It took me 1 minute to get there. Literally. It is across the street! I confess that I still used my GPS. I did. I was walking and I knew it was in between Davis and Everett, but I couldn’t see the numbers. Nancy may have well said “Look up, you dumbass!” because when I turned her on, she was very abrupt with her statement “you are AT your destination!” It echoed and I felt dumb.

I received a tour of the office from a nice girl named Porsche. How cool of a name is that!? Oh, and there’s another girl in the office whose name is “Amber lavender.” LOL. Awesome, no? “Amber Sage lavender you come here NOW!”

Ok, so this office puts JWT to shame. It’s all wooden floors and open. Nice kitchen on each floor. An atrium with a ping-pong table and grand piano. Props (giant popcorn boxes, giant slices of pie) everywhere you look. A conference room encased in sticks to look like a nest. A free coke machine. A giant cafeteria with outside deck, bbq grills and an unobstructed view of Mt Hood and Mt saint Helen. I wept.

I met my team about 30 minutes later and away-we-went! The project is huge and goes live in 5 weeks! This is the largest project I have ever worked on (in terms of exposure). I am PSYCHED about the concept, the execution and how we will track user engagement. It’s a little chaotic as I’m taking a hand off from a guy who just took a hand off, but I know what I need to do. I am really impressed with the people I work with – they are very talented and knowledgeable so I am looking forward to our collaborations.

Funny story, so I got hungry and decided to head out for lunch. To me, nothing is more embarrassing than getting lost in the office on your first day, so – as I was taught in Wilderness Wise, I took a visual inventory of my surroundings – white bike, printer to the left, giant slice of cherry pie to my right. Yes – my marker is a giant slice of cherry pie!

Another funny story. My tech director asked me to help him draft an email last night. In the middle of giving me direction, he stopped, looked at his watch and exclaimed “Ugh – it’s late!” It was 6pm. I wept again. Yes, my friends – these people leave work at 6pm!

Anyhow. The environment fosters creativity and quality of life, so I feel good about it. People work really hard, but they still take time to chit-chat with each other about weekend adventures, child rearing and new foods from Whole Foods. I know I will work hard – mainly cause I want to show my shit – but I know I won’t work to death.

Okay, have to get ready for the day

Happy Birthday, Jaime! You’re 365 days away from 30!

Kate

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