Saturday, January 30, 2010
This means I check my phone as soon as I wake up, while I'm waiting for my straight iron to heat up, while I'm brushing my teeth, while I'm in the car putting my seat belt on, while I'm driving (bad, shh), and then, at the end of the day as soon as I get in my car to go home, I check it again! As if I missed anything from the 5 seconds it took me to walk to my car and while everyone else on my team is on their way out the door, too. Ridiculous. And then, like clockwork, as soon as I walk into my house, I check my email again, and then while I'm cooking dinner, after dinner, before I go to bed, just before I go to bed, etc ... see how bad I am?
Because, what if there's something urgent from my boss? What if I'm desperately needed at 11:27pm? Or, what if that Newsweek reporter I've been trying to reach for months and months finally gets back to me???? It could happen, you never know; he could be struck at any moment with an epiphany and be like, "Oh my gosh, yes, that's what I want the topic of my next cover story to be about! I better email PR Working Girl asap, her story ideas are on fire!"
Granted, there have been a few times when being able to check email remotely has been a good thing, but it's seriously not often enough to justify this madness. How can I stop? And is there any kind of scientific reasoning to my unexplainable OCD-like need to always be connected? Is it a phone habit thing maybe, and not really a need-to-know-what's-going-on-at-work thing? Maybe there are drugs being emitted from the phone waves. And just for the record, me being employed at a cell phone company has nothing to do with it. This is just simply a real life epidemic, yes?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
This Monday was an anomaly, rare as a total eclipse or a four day work week. Monday’s are usually an occasion for weeping and gnashing of teeth, for lamenting over yet another weekend that flew by, for groaning in agony at the next stretch of five work filled days looming ahead. But, as I mentioned, this Monday was different.
1. I managed to get one child to elementary school, the other child to daycare and myself into the office by 8AM! Yeah, I clocked in at 8:04 but I was in the building by 8. A timekeeping system was launched last year. After working here 5+ years without any kind of clock in/out system and pretty much coming and going and monitoring my own time, it was met with much disdain and eye rolling and ushered in a new era of early morning anxiety. Granted, getting three people from bed to commute in 45 minutes flat has always required a meticulously planned and executed routine that causes me to be anything but pleasant, especially for someone who has had a lifelong love affair with the snooze button. But somehow, this Monday, we were up, ready and out the door with military precision. I had to thank the girls for their cooperation as we sped off into morning traffic and, after all was said and done; I was sitting at my desk, peeling off my coat and preparing to head to the break room for my daily bowl of oatmeal at exactly 8:00! (There’s a four minute gap because this timekeeping system resides online and requires that my computer be up and running before I can get to the website to actually clock in. Just peachy!)
2. I got somewhat of a handle on what is typically a very chaotic day. When I tore out of the office on Friday afternoon, the stack of papers on my desk had no rhyme or reason. I skipped my usual end of the week ritual where I take stock of what was done and left undone, what needs immediate attention the next day, what can wait, etc. Well, it happened to be a very trying day and I never got around to it and when 5PM rolled around, I had to leave it and go. The PM routine is not as hectic but it still requires urgency as my school aged child must be picked up from her after-school program by 5:30PM and not a moment later or QUOTE Police will be summoned to escort her to the nearest station to wait for pick up UNQUOTE. (Wild!) So needless to say, things will be left undone if it means I’m going to be late hanging around doing them (which kinda makes that whole indispensable assistant, ready when you need me, come in early and stay late stuff not quite applicable to me and I struggle with that sometimes but hey . . POLICE will be summoned!)
So Friday, I left the piles untended and Monday mornings usually come sliding into port with a whole new hot mess of cargo all their own. But this time, not so much. I was able to sort out the mess, respond to all the urgent emails, return a few phone calls and knock out a stack of documents, all before lunchtime. This type of thing, this symphony of tasks playing out with the rhythm of a dance or a good martial arts movie, reminds me of why I love life in the trenches, makes me utter cliché remarks like, I was born for this, while I juggle a stack of papers in one hand and a perfectly brewed, delicately sweetened cup of coffee in the other.
3. I ate the meticulously prepared lunch that I brought from home. This may not sound like a big deal but I am the girl who has repeatedly stared into that boring brown bag with disgust and, no matter how deli-esque the sandwich turned out or how many cute little side items were thrown in, tucked it neatly back into the break room fridge to head over to the Chinese spot around the corner. They know me by name for crying out loud! That trumps a can of turkey sandwich any day in my book. Plus, I have this sense of entitlement about lunch where I feel that a delicious meal in the middle of a hard day’s work is somehow owed to me. The harder the day, the more delicious the meal should be!
So, eating in represents a tremendous feat of willpower for me. I’ve been on a roller coaster of health consciousness for going on three years now and I decided a few weeks ago that I really needed to buckle down, dig in and get it over with. Preparing a healthy lunch from home and just saying no to all the fantastic food spots within spitting distance of my office topped the list of priorities. Not only does it save money, it allows me to control my calorie intake while keeping me far away from the temptations lurking at the drive thru.
4. I resisted the temptation of the Jar o’ Goodness down the hall. I guess this is somewhat related to #3 but the scale at which I have become accustomed to chugging peanut M&Ms throughout the day warrants that this subject have its own bullet! My workmate down the hall has a cute little glass dish of constantly rotating chocolaty treats; Hershey’s miniatures, Reese’s cups and yes, peanut M&Ms. I’m usually in there a few times a day, chatting it up and shooting the breeze. The fact that she has this dish sitting there implies that I need to have a few. Then, there are the moments when I’m stressed and ready to blow, I have a few more. Then, there’s that time about an hour before lunch when I’m starving and I have a couple to hold me over. Basically, I had to sit myself down and point out that this constant chocolate eating was adding up to one big problem. Monday, armed with a few pieces of fruit and 100 calorie packs, I steered clear of the chocolate. Not one single piece ALL DAY LONG . . . that should have made the 6 o’clock news!
5. I skated past the PM crash. (Or should that be, I missed the Tired Train?) I usually plan ahead to have a pretty light Monday evening. I prepare a quick dinner for the girls, put them to bed then crash on the couch for a few hours of licking my wounds from the harsh day before going to bed early with the intentions of having a real work day on Tuesday. This Monday just wouldn’t let up with the wow factor. Right after work, I headed to the elementary school for an advisory council meeting that, despite going 45 minutes over the scheduled time, turned out to be very informative and productive and rather than crashing on the couch as usual, I decided to keep it going and clocked 3 miles on the treadmill before finally heading to bed still somewhat elated over the events of the day.
I don’t think I would believe that this day ever happened after a few months pass so I had to document it. Every now and again, life just ups and surprises us in a good way and totally changes our perception. Monday is officially out of the box, remixed as a day to perhaps look forward to rather than dread. I may never spend another Sunday evening throwing a tantrum on my closet floor. Of course, the rest of the week has been packed with antics of all sorts including me falling asleep at a red light on the way to work and my laptop crashing and going off the IT hospital where it’s listed in critical condition but somehow, that Monday just seemed to make it a little more bearable.
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
- British law firm Allen & Overy announced last week announced that they would be adopting a four-day work week and extended holidays in order to keep women from leaving the firm because of the demanding hours which was affecting their time with family. Senior parter David Morley was quoted as saying they have been developing this plan for quite some time to help boost the female partner percentage which has stayed in the teens for the past decade. [Financial Times]
- US business schools are attempting to lure women to apply to their schools by offering them private parties at Dylan's Candy Bar in NYC, an all-expenses paid weekend of wining and dining, and group cooking classes. [Women's ENews]
- Martha Coakley's defeat in the recent campaign to fill Ted Kennedy's empty Senate seat, has ignited a debate as to whether or not there is a glass ceiling for women in politics in the state of Massachusetts. [New York Times]
- A 9-year-old "blogger" was spotted in the front row at men's fashion week in Paris. We think she might be the youngest Working Girl we have ever met. [The Cut]
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
Naturally, it’s bad when it hits me at my desk. But if I’m in a meeting when the Tired Train comes, I’m screwed. It chugs right up to me and tears my conscious state to shreds. In its wake, I become an unstoppable droopy-eyed robot that’s incapable of even pretending to pay attention. I find myself constantly pinching myself to stay awake. The problem? My arms and legs end up covered in faint blue bruises. And it hurts. A lot.
Now before you think I’m a fan of self-mutilation (ew, I’m not!), how the heck else do I stay awake? I certainly haven’t a clue. Which is why, after a little Internet investigating, I was delighted to find these terrific tips from The Daily Mind. This is just an abridged version (peppered with my comments), but you can read the full one here.
1. Go buy some fruit—It’s chock full of the good kind of sugar. You know, the kind that won’t send you on a wild and crazy roller coaster of energy ups and downs, like soda or sweets tend to do. I used to bring an apple to work every day and I never had to deal with the Tired Train. Guess I better jump back on the fruit bandwagon.
2. Drink water—A dehydrated body is a tired body. So drink up! I sometimes challenge myself to chugging contests. Sure, it’s not the most fun, but it motivates me to drink more water. And it definitely perks me up.
3. Turn on the cooling—Get a desk fan. Direct it right on your face and turn it on high. It might be just the cool breeze you need to wake right up.
4. Drink your tea and coffee—Well, of course. Though be careful, caffeine can be addictive. But it’s quite delicious, too. I try to switch between coffee, black tea and lattes (my once-a-week treat).
5. Walk or run up the stairs—It’s a great way to pump up your heart rate and get your body and blood moving. A word to the wise: Be careful if you’re clumsy (like me). Running up and down stairs in heels could be hazardous to your health (and dignity).
6. Breathe deeply—According to The Daily Mind, “In traditional Buddhist practice it is said that you need to breathe deep into your stomach instead of the top half of your lungs. Doing this has a calming effect but it can also serve to wake your mind up as it gets you focused on something internal.” So keep breathing!
8. Go outside into the fresh air—Go out. Take a deep breath. Get some air. Sitting in a fluorescent land of cubicles and corporate chaos would lull even the most energetic mind to sleep. Fresh air is your friend. Plus, it’s always good to see the daylight.
Do you guys have any good tips to stay awake at work? If so, I’d love to hear them! And thanks for the kind words and advice last week. I really appreciate it. Guess what? I haven’t had a single run-in with the stare-crazy kids since then. Hooray!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Bill Gates, Oprah, Rachael Ray, P Diddy...the list of famous working girls and boys goes on and on...they're known for their inventions, ambition, charity, and of course, money. Notice that not one that I mentioned (or one that you thought of on your own) is a teacher. Now I'm not going to get on my soap box and tell you that these icons would be nowhere if it weren't for their teachers, but these icons would be nowhere if it weren't for their teachers!
After I graduated college I met up with an old friend one night for drinks who was asking questions about me going back to school to be a teacher. He said, and I quote, "That's not even a real career, this grad school is just a waste of your father's money." You can imagine the heated battle it started and how quickly it fizzled out when I reminded him that if he didn't have teachers who taught him how to read and write he wouldn't be the aspiring writer that he is today.
I can remember the day in 3rd grade when I knew I wanted to teach. My favorite teacher (to this day) Mrs. K told me after a presentation I did on the state of Rhode Island that I'd be "a great teacher someday." Her words rang in my ears as I commuted to my 9-5 marketing internship in NYC the summer before my senior year of college when I realized I needed to make a change. I always wanted to teach. I used to line up my stuffed animals and give them fake tests as I sat at my makeshift desk with my grade book (that I actually made my mom buy me at a teacher supply store) and my mug of hot chocolate that I would "accidentally" spill on my students' tests and have to automatically give them all A's (did this happen to any of you in grammar school because I was constantly a victim of teacher-spilled-coffee-on-the-homework)
Mrs. K was the type of teacher that every elementary school student hoped to have. She let us listen to music while we were doing classwork, she taught us ballroom dancing at recess, let us watch Yankee games in class, and refrained from giving homework on days when Macy's was having a one day sale. She also made all of her clothes and always had the brightest color nail polishes. She would dry our tears when we failed a test and stick up for the girls if the boys ever teased us. I also know every state capital and my times tables with my eyes closed because of her. And the best posters and dioramas I ever made were in 3rd grade.
Last year Mrs. K got very sick. Her health decline very quickly. I had to let her know how much she influenced my decision to be a teacher. I wrote her a letter explaining how every time I hear of a Macy's One Day Sale I think of her and how I try to create a relationship with my students similar to the one she had with us. Unfortunately, I sent the letter one day too late. Her family read the letter though and wrote back to me but I hope she got the message anyway.
Now I am not writing this trying to convince everyone to be teachers or that teachers are the only reason any working girl can be successful, but rather this post is about inspiration. There are very few teachers (besides those portrayed in movies set in schools in the ghetto...and Dumbledore) that are portrayed in media as rich, famous, entrepreneurs like many of the other icons we are supposed to admire. Mrs. K inspired me to do what I always had a passion for, even though it may not be the most popular or trendy decision. Has there been anyone in your life that had the same effect?
Sunday, January 24, 2010
I can't even begin to tell you how jealous I am of him.
Have any of you ever studied abroad while in college? Was it awesome? I'm jealous of you guys, too. For some weird reason studying abroad was never something I considered as a student, like, it wasn't even on my radar. I SO regret missing out on that opportunity.
Fortunately, it's not too late. This London trip has taught me (aside from the fact that leggings/tights, ultra-skinny jeans and sexy knee-high boots are still definitely in) that as working girls, we have many opportunites to live abroad via working abroad.
For Third Wheel, working in London is preparing him to move up the corporate ladder at a quickened pace, given his broadened international experience. Very significant, since that is exactly what his Director told him. Working abroad is also teaching Third Wheel how to adapt to a new environment, a new culture, and new kinds of people putting him on the fast track to becoming a very well-rounded individual and an overall stronger leader. And not to mention, think about all the perks he's getting, such as: making new lifelong friends, eating amazing food (seriously, London cuisine is not bad at all), sight-seeing, SHOPPING, etc.
I'm so excited now about living and working abroad that I came up with a few questions to totally bring up in a job interview. I'd even venture to bring these questions up at my current job just to see what opportunites are out there.
- I understand Company X is a global brand, does it have a corporate presence in other parts of the world?
- I'm very interested in working abroad someday; as part of my ongoing professional development, are there opportunites for Company X employees on Team X to work on international assigments?
- Is there an employee program for those who are interested in working abroad?
- (Assuming there are international opportunies) At what levels within the organization are international opportunites available for employees? Any level? Manager and above? Director and above?
So, anyone else pumped yet, or is it just me? Anyway, happy dreaming of a new far away home and life experiences. That's what I'll be doing!
Thursday, January 21, 2010
There's an older gentleman who works in the Wal-Mart near my office. He's tall and round faced with such a warm, jolly personality that I couldn't help but strike up a conversation with him as he swept down the aisle beside me about a year ago. We chatted for a few moments and his happy baritone laced with the accent of a foreign language let me know that he was definitely not from around here. He said he was from Haiti, which caused me to immediately launch into the very limited French that I remember from high school.
"Tu parle francais, monsieur?" (You speak French?) His eyes brightened.
We went back and forth like that briefly. (Well, I did say my French is limited!) I was about to launch into the days of the week when I thought better of it. He beamed and laughed then went back to his work.
Now, each time I'm haunting the aisles at Wal-Mart and run into him, we always greet each other in French and he asks how I've been, "Ca va?" And regardless of what kind of day I've had, I smile and reply, "Tres bien!" which is "Very well!" in English and that's a good thing because I don't know how to say," This was the worse day imaginable," in French! Occasionally, when the girls are with me, he gives them high-fives and attaches one of those yellow smiley stickers to their foreheads. He's seems like such a genuinely sweet guy. I don't have any grandfathers, actually, now that I think about it, I never even met either of my grandfathers but he seems to have great grandfather qualities.
When I learned of the earthquake that rocked Port-au-Prince, Haiti last week and saw the heart wrenching faces of people caught in the grip of the disaster, I thought of my Wal-mart grandpa and wondered how he had been affected by the tragedy. Did he have children there? Siblings? Good friends? I also have other friends and family members with strong, direct ties to that little island nation and they sat by, helplessly awaiting word as communication was completely cut off. Reports have been pouring in since, stories of death and survival and terrible need.
Now, just over a week later, it’s still so fresh in my mind that it may as well have happened yesterday. I can’t begin to imagine how it would feel to be sitting at work, working on a copy job or standing in the break room with a cup of coffee, and in a matter of minutes, have my whole world turned on end, shaken and stunned surrounded by the wreckage of what was once my office or perhaps buried beneath it, trapped.
My heart goes out to all our Haitian working girls, their families, friends, and neighbors, at this time of great distress. If there is one good thing to be said in all this, the outpouring of support has been tremendous. I implore each of you to find some way to lend a hand to this city that has been thrown into chaos. Its so easy to get caught up in a flurry of emails and deadlines, meetings and travel plans but it just takes a little time to make a tremendous impact when the need is this great.
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
- For a good chuckle, check out this hilarious depiction of the natural stages of employment from getting a job to hating your job. I am definitely in Stage Five. [Maxim]
- According to a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Group, men prefer economically independent women as compared to dependent women. [The Money Times]
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
When it comes to my job, I’m the new kid in school. Though I haven’t had to eat my lunch in a bathroom stall (thank goodness), I have felt awkward more than a few times. I knew when I started that it would take awhile to fit in and find my niche. In fact, they say it takes six months to really feel settled. One down. Five more to go. Yikes.
But with this job, my transition seems to be a bit more hostile than I expected. The reason? My company does the majority of their hiring from within. So when they hire someone from the outside, it sometimes ruffles a few feathers. And with my particular position, a lot of inside people really wanted it.
When I found that out, I was really proud of myself. Until my coworker informed me that the internal people who interviewed for my job were NOT happy they chose an outsider. I went from feeling elated to deflated in about a microsecond.
And she wasn’t kidding. There is literally a group of people, who seem to always travel in a giant pack, that wanted my job. And every time I see them, I feel so uncomfortable. Not that we’ve ever actually met. They just like to stare at me. Last week when I was brainstorming with coworkers in the cafeteria, the group came in and sat at a table not far from me. After a few minutes, they all turned and stared at me. Just stared. It was bizarre. It only lasted a second, but it was enough to set my cheeks ablaze and make me squirm with nerves.
Unfortunately, they’re not the only ones. There’s this one girl I’ve been in a lot of meetings with lately and I swear, when I’m looking the other way, I can feel her eyes fixed on me, sending razor sharp mental daggers my way. I’ve tried to ignore it, chalking it up to an unfriendly personality. Until yesterday. That’s when I found out that she wanted my job. A lot. And she was not happy that she didn’t get it.
It’s so awkward. And yes, if the roles were reversed, I might be frustrated, too. But I certainly wouldn’t be shooting daggers. I’m not that type of girl. Luckily I get along really well with everyone on my team. They tell me to brush off the stares, which I do. I just hate confrontation. And as much as I don’t want to admit it, I really hate when people don’t like me. Especially if it’s for a dumb reason.
I’m extremely appreciative that I got the job. I love it so far, and I feel so lucky that they chose me. So for now, I’m just going to focus on enjoying the ride and try to ignore their long, lingering looks. They’ll get over it eventually. And in the immortal words of the random crying girl from Mean Girls, “I wish I could bake a cake full of rainbows and smiles and everyone would eat and be happy.” That would be lovely.
Monday, January 18, 2010
Saturday, January 16, 2010
Hey, everyone! I’m PR Working Girl.
My first love was actually Advertising. On a whim, and more truthfully, out of desperation, I enrolled in an Intro to Advertising course when I was a sophomore in college because my broadcast journalism dreams were kind of headed on a path to nowhere. At the time, I was DJ-ing once a week for the campus radio station in hopes of someday getting good enough to be on TV, when a listener called the request line and told me to please stop talking because my high-pitched “on air” voice (hey, I was nervous!) sounded like I was speaking to 5 year- olds and/or baby animals. Yeah.
So anyway, looking back, taking that Intro to Advertising course was probably the smartest thing I ever did in college. I thrived in that class, everything to me was amazing and interesting, from cost of billboards to logo designs. I was on a high. As a junior, I got my very first internship at an advertising agency in LA working with twowell known brands (think cat food and instant rice) where my duties included taking notes behind a two-way mirrorduring focus groups, building giant display boards for client brainstorms and doing tons of competitive research. This was my first taste of “the real world,” and I felt totally star-struck—don’t know how else to put it—for the whole three months.
Toward the end of my junior year, I noticed a lot of my other Communication major friends trying out public relations. They said it was similar to advertising, but different. I thought, what the heck, I might as well try it out.So my second internship was with this little boutique entertainment PR agency run by a stay-at-home-mom, from out of her spare bedroom! She was incredible! Her clients included these super snazzy LA producers, screenwritersand composers. A lot of these guys did work for TV ads, so it was like I still had a foot in advertising while I learnedall about PR “straight from the horse’s mouth.” But the best thing I learned about PR was all the writing involved,which I loved.
My final semester of college, I was feeling pretty torn. What direction should I go? Advertising (get to be creative)or PR (get to write)? Both sounded so promising. I lucked out with my third internship which was working at an ad agency on their internal PR team—score! As I’m writing this, I’m realizing how incredibly lucky I was to find such great work experience before I even graduated. Now-a-days, even though it wasn’t really that long ago, I’m class of 2005, I understand the economy is in a MUCH different place. My hat goes off to those of you job or internship hunting right now, I admire your determination and strength to endure the increased competitiveness out there.Don’t give up.
After college, I continued to work in agency settings over the next three years. The first year was at the same agency of my final internship (they hired me upon graduation) and then at a PR agency in Chicago for two years (LOVE CHICAGO). I’m now in Orange County, Calif. where I’ve gone back to working on an internal PR team, but this time not at an agency, but in a corporate setting for a cell phone company. I’ve been here for about a year and a half now. So not only am I a writing nerd and a horrible radio DJ, I guess this also makes me a techhie. Is there anything worse?? Haha.
Some of you may wonder, what is PR anyway? Basically, my job is to build and maintain the reputation and public perception of our company. We work hand in hand with the Marketing folks to ensure the message they’re sending out to consumers is actually true. So if a company’s ads portray them as innovative, our job would be to spread the word about the kinds of innovative things the company is doing. To do that, I build relationships with influential reporters and bloggers and work with them on stories and feed them information about what’s going on with our company, how we’re impacting the industry, when we have new products, etc. in hopes that they write glowing articles about us. This is the “media relations” part. I also do a lot of crisis communications, which is when we prepare for disasters like when a competitor lowers their prices to match ours, when news is accidently leaked, orwhen people are offended by our ads. Our job is to handle the situation so it doesn’t spin out of control and cause any loss of confidence in the company. I also work to educate and build relationships with analysts who are “experts” and who often offer third-party perspective to the media, so they’re always wanting to know what’s going on within the industry. In a nutshell, anytime you see, hear or read anything positive about a company in the newspapers, online, on a blog, on the morning/evening news, etc. it’s very, very likely that a PR person helped put it there.
Ok, so ENOUGH about me. I want to hear about you. Any other PR working girls out there? Let’s hear it! And feel free to drop me a line! I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.