Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Meeting Notes

Meeting Notes is a weekly feature. Here we will dish on tidbits, news, and important things we thinking Working Girls should know. So scroll down to hear what we think you should glean from this work week.
  • Rumors have been swirling around the Internet that MTV's The City was being axed after this season is over. Whitney Port has claimed that this is false and apparently casting has been taking place in the Hamptons. Long live The City! [NY Mag]

  • According to a research at Duke, CEOs apparently have more "competent looking faces" than non-CEOs. In addition, CEOs with "baby faces" were rated as having lower competence but higher likability. But like this blog post says, who really cares? [An MBA is Forever]

  • This past May a group of women in fake beards crashed a French company's shareholders' meeting which is apparently a growing common trend in France in response to their mostly male boardrooms. Beards? Really? [Jezebel]

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Once upon a time, the world's richest man was a vampire with sparkly skin

Today I was perusing through when I discovered a hidden gem. Tucked away among serious business stories about plummeting stocks and lingering unemployment, I discovered this. Quite possibly the best real fake news article ever written.

Yes, it was published way back in April, but that doesn’t make it any less awesome. Yes, awesome. Just knowing that some of the people over at Forbes don’t take themselves too seriously makes me smile. The fact that someone (Michael Noer, I salute you) took the time to crunch fake numbers and do a detailed background check on fictional characters is pretty fantastic. Even better, they come out with a new list every year. I wish all companies could be that cool.

I now present to you The Forbes Fictional Fifteen (with a few of my favorite excerpts from the slideshow copy). Happy reading!

1. Carlisle Cullen—Net worth: $34.1 billion.
Best line: “Made shrewd long-term investments in steel, gold, oil, thanks to prescience of daughter turned financial advisor Alice; saw recessions coming, invested early in Wal-Mart. Earned doctor's salary for 340 years without paying for groceries, health care expenses.”

2. Scrooge McDuck—Net worth: $33.5 billion.
Best line: “Gains were crimped because of money spent having adventures with three nephews and bumbling personal pilot.”

3. Richie Rich—Net worth: $11.5 billion.
Best line: "The boy once known for his extravagant parties (hot dogs sprinkled with gold dust, lemonade cooled with chunks of arctic ice cap) has been missing from Richville social scene since June: reportedly still mourning death of close friend and "spiritual advisor" Michael Jackson."

4. Tony Stark—Net worth: $8.8 billion

5. Jed Clampett—Net worth: $7.2 billion

6. Adrian Veidt “Ozymandias”—Net worth: $7 billion

7. Bruce Wayne—Net worth: $6.5 billion

8. The Tooth Fairy—Net worth: $3.9 billion
Best line: “Rumored to sell baby teeth to gray-market Chinese labs researching human cloning; other theories hold teeth are an ingredient in Colonel Sander's secret Kentucky Fried Chicken recipe.”

9. Thurston Howell III (Gilligan’s Island)—Net worth: $2.1 billion

10. Sir Topham Hatt (Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends)—Net worth: $2 billion

11. Artemis Fowl II—Net worth: $1.9 billion

12. C. Montgomery Burns (The Simpsons)—Net worth: $1.3 million
Best line: “Hobbies include taunting immigrant laborers, stealing candy from babies, making fur clothing out of puppies.”

13. Charles “Chuck” Bartholomew Bass (oh yeah, he’s Chuck Bass)—Net worth: $1.1 billion
Best line: “Obtained trademark on phrase "I'm Chuck Bass." Daytime wardrobe embraces three P's--purple, plaid and preppy. For night, three V's--vests, velvet and Valentino.”

14. Jay Gatsby—$1 billion

15. Lucille Bluth (Arrested Development)—$950 million
Best line: “Said to have squirreled away millions in Swiss bank accounts and inside the walls of family run frozen banana stand.”

And they all lived happily ever after. With their billions. And now the Duck Tales theme song is in my head (Ducktales, woo hoo).

Monday, June 28, 2010

College Majors: They're Not So Major Afterall..

Although I wish this post was going to be about Victoria Beckham and her use of the word "mayjah" I will remain professional.  As you all know I graduated college with a degree in Communications.  I loved my college media courses, interned for CBS Radio, and was convinced I'd spend my life working in media. Senior year, I had a change of heart, I knew I wanted to pursue my lifelong passion of being an educator. I loved little children and although I really liked media, it just wasn't right for me at the time. 

So I met with my favorite communication professor and he encouraged me to go to grad school and get my teaching certificates. Which I did. On my first interview the director of the school asked why I had a change of heart and I told her that I was young and had the support from my family and loved ones to do what it is I enjoyed, rather than what was expected based on my undergrad education.  She said I was lucky to have "figured it out" so early in my life. From that day on no one has questioned why my bachelor's degree is in Communication and my additional education is in teaching.

Most of my posts on this blog mention doing what you love for a living, rather than what you feel is expected of you.  WG2 for instance went to college and graduated with a degree in English and moved to the east coast to pursue a career in writing.  She is currently doing event planning (and much more business-like activities) in the city of Chicago. Does she love it? No. Does she hate it? No. But it is what is right for her right now. Even this blog post proves that it doesn't matter what you major in, a job is a job, and if you are qualified and work hard at whatever it is, you deserve it.  I do hope, however, that WG 2 finds a job doing exactly what she loves (like writing a really famous book and giving me money so I can retire young) and I hope that for all of you as well.

Let's face it.  Being a teacher in NJ really sucks right now, but the climate out there in any job market isn't exactly desirable. So why not give your current job all you've got, regardless of your major and whatever a diploma or degree has to say about. 

Moral of the story? It's all about doing what you love. If what you're doing right now isn't your dream job (I'm sure many of you are nodding your heads right now) that doesn't mean it has to be your career forever.  My 60-year-old father who has been working in the media industry since he was 21 still says he wishes he had become a high school football coach like he always wanted. We are lucky to live in a society where it is acceptable to change career fields. Hey, I might want to pursue my childhood dream of being a dolphin trainer afterall. And that's OK, even if my major in college wasn't Marine Biology..

Friday, June 25, 2010

What To Be Today, He-Man or Super Girl?

Today I got mistaken for being a dude. Not by the way I look or by the way I dress, but apparently by the way I email. (And I guess it doesn't help that my name is one of those that can be a guy or girl's name, but I always thought people would default girl ...) Anyway, check out this response I got from a tech blogger:

"Fantastic! Thanks man, can't wait to get the word out some more and make some happy readers :) Not to mention getting some more customers your way! Thanks again dude! -Matt"

Just a quick recap for you newbie readers, I am PR Working Girl and I work with bloggers and reporters to get them to help me spread the good word about my clients. In this case, I have a tech client and this Matt person is a blogger who is pretty pumped to review my client's new product on his blog.

SO. When I read this, I laughed. Then, I couldn't help but be like, but wait a minute, um, I'm a GIRL! I take it that the use of pet names like "man" and "dude" signify that Matt and I are now "buddies" ... which I guess is a good thing. I replied back with a simple, "No problem!" I didn't correct him, the sympathetic girl in me didn't want to hurt his feelings or risk him becoming so embarrased he decides not to write about my client. Was that the right thing to do?

As a PR Working Girl, I've learned that I need to "talk the talk" when it comes to working with bloggers and reporters. They are quite cunning and can see right through fluff. If I can talk like them, be like them, think like them, it builds this great crediblity and mojo between us; soon, they trust me and wah-la, we have a relationship. From there, I can then count on them to read my emails and listen to my pitches, and hey, if we're friends, they seem more likely to want to write about whatever news, nonsense or actually relevant, my clients come up with. Just kidding, we always have relevant news to share.

(Is it Friday? My sarcastic side tends to come out full force at this time.)

But when I genuinely get mistaken for being a dude, I have to stop and think if I'm taking it too far. Yes, this has happened before! Should I throw in more femininity in my writing, or just keep pretending to be a guy to those who like to believe that I am? Should I take it as a "professional compliment" that an esteemed tech blogger thinks I'm his bro? What does this all mean in terms of feminism in the workforce? I have a book given to me by an old boss of mine (a female boss) titled, Play Like a Man, Win Like a Woman. I guess essentially that's what I'm doing, right?? I feel confused and torn.

Another funny thing about this situation is that my two other clients are incredibly girly, glamorous and fun fashion-y types. So when I'm emailing with them or pitching totally opposite side of the specturm design and fashion bloggers, I have to turn on the savvy and sassy part of me and bring out the exclamation marks, smiley faces and over-use all sorts of adverb/adjectives like "super cute" and "totally adorable," as well as sign all my notes with a loving "xo." (Although, it is interesting to note that Matt himself used several exclamations and a smiley face ...)

Anyone else out there who plays up their "masculine" side, or feminine side, to their professional advantage? How's it working for you?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Retirement Plans

Yesterday the entertainment world was all abuzz when Amanda Bynes announced on Twitter that she’s retiring from the world of acting at the ripe old age of 24*.

24! Can you imagine? I honestly wonder what she’s going to do with the rest of her life. I applaud her for having the courage to admit that she’s unhappy with acting before she goes all crazy like Lindsey Lohan and ruins her reputation. I’d much rather remember her fondly as the cool girl from All That and the girl I wished I could be in What A Girl Wants (Confession: I still love that movie).

Somehow I just can’t picture her spending her working years as an accountant in Cubicle Land, USA. My guess is that she’ll end up writing/directing/producing somewhere down the road. Isn’t that what all retired actors do? And if she hasn’t wasted her money on drugs, crazy cars or houses that deserve their own zip codes, she probably has quite the little fortune for herself. All at the age of 24. Lucky duck.

So it got me thinking. If I had enough money to retire right now, what would I want to do with the rest of my life? I think I’d be bored to death if I didn’t have something to work toward every day. I would definitely feel useless, that’s for sure. So naturally, I’d have to figure out something to do with all my time (and money):

• Write a book, definitely in the chick lit genre (my guilty pleasure)
• Travel the world and write travel books for twenty-somethings
• Spend a significant amount of time volunteering abroad, starting in Tanzania
• Learn to play the violin, piano, flute, ukulele, guitar, harp, xylophone, etc
• Go back to school to learn everything. Yes, everything.
• Become a meteorologist. You know, just for fun.

What would you do?

*Sidenote: All her retirement tweets were posted between 4am – 6am. Hm. Do I smell an alcohol-induced publicity stunt?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Rolling Out the Welcome Mat - New Hires and Old Nonsense

Advertising Working Girl chronicled the progression from new-hire to confident team member on Tuesday and coincidentally, I was just pondering, perhaps lamenting, about the trials and tribulations of being on the other side of that coin: dealing with new coworkers.

We generally scramble a few days ahead of time to pull together a training schedule then lay out some stale bagels for the "eat and meet" and put on our best "Welcome to Hell" smiles when they arrive for their first day.

There's nothing compared to the feeling of assisting someone take their first unsure steps into the culture of a new company home while knowing all the while that in a few short months, they'll likely be gone, crushed under the weight of so much disorganization and political squabbling.

Regardless, new hires all have one thing in common, no matter what level of degree they hold, no matter whether they're coming in from a Fortune 500 or picking up a part time shift to meet ends, they don't know a thing! They're like babies in a way and must be shown absolutely everything. No one walks in off the street knowing where the copier is or what printer their documents are going to. They have no clue when to go to lunch or how to find the CEO's office. Sure, you've done email before but you need to be shown how we do email. Being a new hire is definitely a humbling experience, regardless whether it lasts a week or six months.

They also all seem to exude this rather contagious brand of promise and positivity that, no matter how toxic the environment was prior to their arrival, for a few fleeting moments, it becomes hard to resist.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The 6-month mark. And swimming.

I’ve officially been at my new job for 6 months. Apparently that’s how long it takes to settle in. And what a strange, stressful, nerve-wracking journey it’s been. Full of highs, lows, “wtf?” moments, small victories, minor setbacks and a few tears along the way. To me, the first 6 months are the hardest part of getting a new job. Sure, the job search and interview process can be absolutely grueling, but you make it through. When you finally get the job, you feel elated. This is your chance for a new start. And then BAM! it’s your first day and it’s freshman year of high school all over again. You’re thrown into a massive pool of newness. And you better be able to deal with how to survive and thrive while dealing with things like cliques, cafeterias, lingo and new expectations.

It’s up to you to learn how to swim. Because honestly, starting a new job is like learning how to swim all over again. Allow me to explain:

Months 1-2
You’re thrown headfirst into the deep end of the pool. Yes, you are given the necessary training and you already (hopefully) have the knowledge you need, but quite quickly you feel like you’re drowning. After all, you’ve never been taught how to swim in
this pool. There are so many new rules, new strokes and new philosophies on how to be successful in the water. For the first few weeks, you kick and thrash about, struggling to remember how to swim. Your knowledge seems to have gone on a brief sabbatical, allowing stress to set in. You might even find yourself wondering why the heck you wanted to be in this pool in the first place. But luckily, you eventually realize you can tread water. Sure, it’s tiring, but it’s definitely doable. And not long after, you remember how to dog paddle. You keep your head above water. Now you’re getting somewhere.

Months 3-4
Hey, look! You can touch! Only with your tippy toes at first, but you soon find firm footing. Now have more control over your time in the pool. You decide when to float, swim and tread. Naturally, you’ll come across a few slippery spots and the occasional “cannonball” from a less-than-compassionate coworker, but that’s to be expected. Soon dog paddling gives way to cleaner, more confident strokes as you navigate your way through the water. You might not be as strong as you once were, but you’re getting there. And with each passing week, you feel a little bit better.

Months 5-6
Congratulations. You can swim! Perhaps not particularly well just yet, but you’re figuring it out as you go. Sure, you might still scrape your toe on the side of the pool or get water in your ears, but you have the hang of it. And good news! People aren’t as wary of your swimming skills as they once were. They’re starting to swim a little closer, invite you to have underwater tea parties (remember those?!) and maybe even challenge you to a handstand contest. By the end of the 6th month, you’re back on top. You remember why you chose this pool and you feel confident in your skills and your decision. It feels good to swim again.

So what do you think about the first 6 months of a job? Did it take you a full 6 months to catch on, like it did with me? Or were you an Olympic-style Working Girl, able to dive right in and set a world-record pace? Let’s hear it!

Monday, June 14, 2010

The Lengths People Will Go...

As you know my posts mainly revolve around my adventures in babysitting..I mean teaching...and children. Well today when I got home from work, I was watching the news (something I rarely do, sadly) and caught the story about the 16 year old girl from California who set off to sail around the world by herself and break the world record of youngest sailor to do so. She got stuck in the Indian Ocean, close to Australia, and needed to be rescued. The news was reporting that it was all a hoax.

Apparently the family was putting their daughter through this extremely dangerous event in hopes of getting their own reality show. This story may sound similar to the story last October about the dad who reported in a panic his son was floating away in the sky in his homemade hot air balloon. When the balloon crashed and no child was found, police eventually found the boy hiding in the family's garage. The father was sentences to 90 days in prison after admitting that he was hoping his family would get its 'big break' and get their own reality show as well. Whether these stories, or hoaxes, or whatever they are have truth behind them or not, it is just surprising and sad the lengths people will go to to be seen on television/make a buck.

My father always says people should have to take IQ tests before they have children and I think they should have to pass a basic skills course before they're allowed to take their children home from the hospital!

Meanwhile an 11-year-old boy disappeared from a school science fair and his devastated family is searching high and low for him, yet the story of the family trying to get their own tv show is what's on the news, when the 11-year-old who is truly in need should have his face plastered everywhere for people to see.

My rant is over, and I'm sure some people may disagree, but stories like the hoaxes and other lies involving children in order to get their parents ahead make me want to adopt all of the children who have these lives. I hope, if nothing else, these stories on the news are just lessons to people having children now and what not to do when raising the future of America.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Getting My Mojo Back

I'm going to blame it on it being June. I'm going to blame it being summertime. Summery, sunshiney, warm, blue skies-ey, birds singy good 'ol summertime ... yeah. Guys! I've totally lost my work mojo, and I need to find it.

It's worse being a work-at-home working girl. I've learned that I have pretty much zero discipline. My first month working from home, I was good. It was like I was a new student, like it was the first month of my freshman year of college where everything was gung-ho and nothing was going to stop me from getting to all my classes and doing all my homework and making my bed every single morning. Wha' happened?

Here's all my excuses.

1) I don't have a dedicated work space. I'm either working from the couch, from bed or from the kitchen table. It's too much temptation to watch a little TV, take a little nap, or go outside and lay out by the dreamy blue pool that I can see outside from my view at the kitchen table. Bad.

That's all I can think of. I'm out of excuses already.

I disgust myself.

What do you girls do to get yourselves out of a rut and into go-getting, turbo-tiger awesome-as-heck working girls? Tips, pep talks, anything ... now, please!

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Caught in the Web

It’s hard for me to remember a time before the internet. I think we were playing Oregon Trail from a big floppy disk in our middle school library. I haven’t paid a bill in person or used a phone book in my entire adult life. Life has a certain added layer of comfort because of the internet. Access to information and entertainment is just so much easier with it than flipping through newspapers and watching the news on TV. Plus, there are all those other optional yet fantastic services that are just a registration away. If tomorrow, the internet was suddenly destroyed by some site crunching, blog busting mega-virus, I’d probably need extensive therapy. I really don’t know what I’d do without it! Amazingly, I was actually forced to put a good deal of thought into possible canceling my internet service at home. I wanted to immediately dismiss the idea as preposterous but felt that the decision deserved more analysis than that since we are talking about a recurring bill in an already strained household in need of a debt diet. As I whittle down to necessities only, the internet service, which I get through my cable provider, was suddenly up next on the chopping block. Frankly, regardless of how nonessential many of my web dealing are, the fact that my life is impacted in such a wonderful and positive way by the convenience and ease of access, I’m keeping it. How could I possible live without such pleasures as:

Redbox – Since I no longer have a membership at a huge chain video rental store, Redbox is such a treat. I can grab a blockbuster on my way home from work, have an impromptu movie night then drop it off tomorrow, all for just a buck! The website allows me to reserve a title at the box of my choosing and pick it up when I’m ready (by 9PM the next day). This way, I can eliminate the disappointment of finding that the new release I want is completely checked out when I’m standing there, box of microwave popcorn in hand!

Facebook – It’s my second home and, in many cases, my strongest link to several friends and family members, with more being added every day. I’m constantly updating, posting pictures, commenting, checking up on folks, reading notes, etc. Forget the whole internet, I’d be devastated if we just lost Facebook! (*sniff*)

SeatGuru – This site is a true gem for the frequent traveler. It offers reviews of ENTIRE PLANES from nose to tail! While in the processes of booking a flight, I always click over to SeatGuru to see which seats are rated the best, which in-flight movie is playing and how much a glass of wine is selling for. The seat reviews are very detailed, e.g., “immovable armrests,” “missing a window,” “limited leg room due to equipment box” and “seat does not recline.” Control freak that I am, this site is a critical!

AccessAtlanta – I wouldn’t have a clue what was going on in this city on any given without the help of my Access Atlanta calendar. With it, I’m equipped to take in all the great concerts, festivals and kids events being offered year round. This is primarily how I plan my weekends. Without it, I’d be at home staring at a blank wall while the girls fell unconscious from cabin fever. I'm sure these type of sites exist for most urban cities and probably a bunch of small ones!

HalfOffDepot – Oh how I love thee . . . let me count the ways! I cannot even tell you how much money I’ve saved since I started using Half Off Depot. Available in a slew of cities all over the US and even in Canada, they negotiate great deals on everything from show tickets to spa treatments to meals at great restaurants and all I have to do is log on, take my pick and CHA-CHING, it’s all HALF OFF the original price. So, I can get a $100 concert tickets for $50, plus dinner grab dinner afterward with a gift card worth $50 that I only spent $25 for. The lifetime of savings is astronomical! I’ve actually been able to snag tickets to this great puppetry venue for the girls that I had been dying to go to but couldn’t reconcile the $16 per person ticket price. Well, low and behold, a few weeks ago, this place was featured as the “deal of the day” of Half Off Depot with tickets going for $7!!! Finally, we can go check it out without breaking the bank. Clearance and sale items have even steeper discounts. Seriously, this site is a no brainer.

Fandango/MovieFone – Both these sites rock simply because I can purchase my movie tickets in advance, avoid long lines and sold out shows. As I mentioned early with Redbox, here’s nothing more disappointing that being all set to see the latest release only to have it sell out 30 minutes after you’ve been standing in a line wrapped around the building. That is soooooo 2001! Never again! I don’t mind paying few extra dollars for that piece of mind. I list Fandango and MovieFone together because they offer the same service and I’ve learned that most theaters use one or the other, not both. The AMC close to me will show as “no online ticketing available” on one site but be fully capable of online booking on the other. Take notes!

This is only a sampling of the great websites that I would suddenly be barred from if I let the internet go. Not to mention the fact that I READ BLOGS (*wink*), pay all my bills, manage my bank account, monitor my daughter’s school lunch account, renew books at the library, play all sorts of educational games with the girls and numerous other critical functions of life via that superfast wireless signal wrapping my whole place in this technological security blanket of connectivity.

To web or not to web . . . . clearly, that’s not up for debate! Do you have any sites you just can’t live without? Either vital or purely for amusement, what can you just NOT live without?

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Great Debate: Male vs. Female Bosses

In a recent Forbes article entitled “Do Employees Prefer Male or Female Bosses?” Forbes conducted a survey through Facebook to see if people tended to favor one sex over the other when it came to their higher-ups. Surprisingly, the results show employees overwhelmingly favor male bosses. Naturally, some of that may be rooted in gender stereotypes—men are viewed as confident and strong, while women are seen as emotional and “nice”.

The article goes on to explain that as a result of gender stereotypes, women in managerial roles often take on typical male characteristics. They become more assertive and aggressive. The result? They're viewed negatively. They can come across as power hungry, cold and even a little bitchy. It doesn't mean they are worse bosses than men. Not at all. But unfortunately for them, that’s how they’re often perceived.

Throughout my career, and random high school and college jobs, I’ve had both male and female bosses. I’ve had the good, the bad, the distant, the sarcastic and the somewhat crazy. And to be completely honest, I prefer working for a male boss. I know, I know. As a strong, savvy Working Girl that’s quite shameful…but it’s true.

Before you hunt me down and threaten to throw rocks at me and my outdated, anti-feminist mindset, please let me explain. Here’s the thing: Women are emotional beings. Yes, it's a stereotype, but I find it to be true. And I just happen to be extra emotional. I’m very sensitive to other people’s moods. If they’re stressed, I get stressed. If they’re mad, I get mad. So in my experience, I’ve worked for women who often times were riding on roller coasters of emotions–AKA mood swings—and it made it very difficult to keep up. Don't get me wrong—they were great people. But they’d be nice one minute, frustrated the next, and stressed out before you could blink an eye. I could never tell if what I was doing was good, bad or just plain unimportant. It made my jobs extra stressful on a daily basis.

I’ve found that because male bosses don’t let their emotions gets in the way, they have an easier time maintaining their authority. Sure, there are pros and cons for both male and female bosses, but for me personally, I appreciate not getting swept up in any emotional distress.

What do you think, Working Girls? Do you prefer a female boss over a male boss? Do you notice females taking on male characteristics to appear “tougher” in the workplace? Do you think my opinion is just plain crazy? Please comment and let me know what you think!

Monday, June 7, 2010

What Not To Wear

I'm not sure about you working girls, but my favorite thing about the weather getting warmer is that I get to wear FLIP FLOPS all the time. (Check out the ones I just bought from Havianas). The minute the weather goes above 60, I'm in them. And I'm in them until November. Luckily my assistant at school has the same addiction so she doesn't think it's weird when I'm wearing my $1 old navy flip flops in the rain.

However, this week at work I got a horrifying phone call from my boss (the owner of the school who lives 2 hours away aka we never see her) saying that she knows the weather is getting warmer but we have to remember to wear closed toe shoes with a back for safety reasons. Safety reasons. The school is childproof, what kind of trouble are my feet going to get into?!?! I guess I could drop something on my toes or possibly trip up the stairs (which I do in regular shoes) but I'm willing to take the risk!

Like the good school girl that I am, I've been following the rules and wearing flats and/or other sneakers (like these pumas) that are a little cooler looking with my work clothes than my gym shoes. But the flip flop ban is really putting a damper on my workday! We are outside constantly with the kids and walking to the park and taking class trips and having socks and shoes on is making me SO much hotter!

What do you girls wear to work? Are you a flats kind of person? Or are you one of those (who I totally envy) that can work all day in heels? Are you allowed to wear flip flops in your office? Even if they're the semi dressy kind (like these from Target).

I just don't get why everyone is against them! Could it really just be because of the noise they make when you walk?!?!

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Healthcare Scare

A few months ago, I received a letter indicating that my children are no longer eligible for the income-based, state run health insurance program that has covered them since birth. Suddenly, without warning, they were two of the 50 million + Americans without health insurance coverage. This is totally new territory for me. I don't recall a time when I've ever not been able to whip out a handy card and push it across the desk in a physician's office in lieu of cash. With the girls suddenly "exposed," I've discovered a strange and horrible wasteland of fear mixed with panic. Each time one of them coughs, my heart skips a beat. Each visit to the park, each time I catch my oldest doing headstands in her bedroom I feel a momentary panic at the possibility of freak accidents and broken bones. I've had to delay a dental check up and a physical while I try to figure out exactly how we're going to move back under the safety and comfort we're accustomed to. Adding them to my plan at work would be astronomical therefore out of the question. There's another health plan I can try, designed especially for children with higher income limits but even that's not guaranteed. I applied weeks ago but have yet to hear back.

So currently, we're in limbo. And of course, as luck would have it, I received a call yesterday from my daughter's daycamp that she had cut her leg and needed emergency care. It was as if the entire world went silent for a few moments as the full weight of the poor timing came to rest on my shoulders. It was a though an imaginary meter started running. I've never really paid attention to medical bills, I never really felt need. Regardless of the cause of the visit, I'm accustomed to paying a small copay and continuing with my life. I've only heard dark tales of massive charges for even minor procedures, $100 band-aids, $1,000 Tylenol. I knew immediately that our already shaky financial footing was in jeopardy.

Once I'd collected my little patient, we headed to the doctor's office. I called in advanced to explain the insurance situation just to make sure we wouldn't be turned away and was delighted to find that we were welcome to come in and that I could pay whatever I could afford. Novel! Unfortunately, my elation was short lived when the doctor who examined my daughter's leg promptly announced that they could not mend that sort of tear and that we would indeed have to go to an emergency room. The forms that were passed across the admissions desk felt condemning. I was actually embarrassed to admit that we did not have health insurance and cringed when the nurse scrawled "self pay" across the top. Hours later, we emerged from the ER at our nearest children's hospital with seven stitches closing a deep puncture wound in back of my daughter's leg.

And today, I had a root canal but that's another story!

The most important part of this ordeal is that the incident was not life threatening, that, though it looked bad, the wound in her leg was an easy fix and she had little pain. But,
if what I've encountered over the past few months is anything like what families experience who lack insurance I can absolutely understand the push for universal coverage. This really has me wishing I'd paid more attention to all the fine print health care reform bill that passed earlier this year! I'm going to go get a copy to read and hope that, in the meanwhile, we can avoid incident!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Getting handy with the head honchos

One of the things I love about my new company is how committed everyone is to volunteering in the community. Throughout the month of April and a wee bit of May, my company held special service days in neighboring towns, giving all 4,000+ of us an opportunity to get out there and lend a helping hand.

I was eager to volunteer, and as a still relatively unknown newbie, I was hoping it would give me a good chance to bond with my coworkers (who have proven to be
very difficult to click with—more on that another day). After a slight rain delay, my service day rolled around and I arrived at the site, an urban park, excited to dig right in and start helping out.

So little old me strolled right up to a group of people who looked like they knew what they were doing and asked how I could help. And before I knew it, I was handed a pretty gigantic shovel and was told to start digging up weeds in front of the park’s clubhouse. Sure, it sounded easy enough. My thumbs definitely aren't green—more like slightly yellow from excessive highlighter and Sharpie use—but I decided I’d figure out my weeding duties along the way. Until I saw who my weeding “buddy” was. The Executive Vice President/Chief Marketing Officer of my company. Needless to say, she’s a BIG deal (she's been on The Today Show, for goodness' sake!). And us little people rarely ever see her.

As I tried to get over my initial shock, I focused on digging the crap out of all of the dandelions in sight. We made brief small talk, but inside my head a battle was raging between the shy girl I usually am and the ballsy girl who only comes out after a cocktail or two. Before I knew what I was doing, I stopped digging, looked straight at her and said, “I just have to introduce myself, since we’re working together. My name is Advertising Working Girl.” Only it didn’t sound that smooth. Her reaction? She laughed! After one mortifying second, she introduced herself and mentioned that she knew I was new at the company. We ended up talking all about my work experiences, life in my new city, my engagement, and all of our summer plans. At the end of the day, my coworkers started referring to me as her new best friend. I was so proud of myself for introducing myself and not letting my nerves get in the way, like they usually do.

As if that wasn’t enough, the day ended with a site picture for the company website. As we all huddled together, I quickly squeezed in on one side—right between my new best friend, the EVP/CMO,
and the CEO/Preseident of the entire company. How funny is that? I stood there grinning proudly as I soaked up all the power around me. And now that picture is up at work for all to see. I love it.

But all my pride and elbow-rubbing aside, I thought it was so cool that all the top people in my company were out there digging up weeds with the rest of us. They all worked so hard to make sure that park was spotless for the kids in the community. To me, that’s a sign of great leadership. The whole event not only inspired me to do more service, but really made me appreciate my new company. Moral of the story: If you work for a big company (or any company really) and get a chance to garden/cook/clean/chat with a head honcho, swallow your nerves and just go for it! What do you have to lose?

Oh, and I ran into my new best friend in the ladies room a couple week ago, and she totally remembered me. Bonus!