Sunday, February 28, 2010

Stalking Is Caring

Stalking is how we keep in touch these days. And I mean in the online sense, not all Disturbia-like. Oftentimes it seems the best way to ensure you keep in touch with friends is to provide multiple ways you can be stalked, and vice versa. Become friends on Facebook, connect on LinkedIn, follow each other on Twitter, chat on Skype, subscribe to each others' blogs, and on and on.

Personally, I like to stalk to size people up that I haven't met yet. You know, the ones you work with but only know them by name or by their phone voice. Don't you ever get curious about what they look like? Where they used to work? Where they went to college? How much experience they have? Hm, you ask yourself, I wonder if I'll like them if I actually met them, or do I just want to keep this relationship to the email/phone level?

It can actually be helpful, too. As a PR Working Girl, I deal with a lot of reporters and industry analysts. Unfortunatley, I never get to actually meet any of them face-to-face, so stalking it is. For example, if their profile picture shows an older man with glasses and stern smile, I figure, "Ah-hah, he's the serious type. I better not mess with him and try anything witty, probably should just get to the point with my pitch. Oh, and definitely no smiley faces." Not that smiley faces really belong in PR pitches in the first place .... unless you're pitching Teeney Bopper USA or something.

Ever thought about what kind of message you're sending to YOUR stalkers?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

The Gatekeepers

At work, a great deal of my time is spent on the phone. I talk to clients, to vendors, to the other folks who work here. When I’m not on the phone, I’m on my email scheduling blocks of time for other people to talk on the phone. Often, the person on the other end of my fervent plea for availability is another person like me; not the person with whom the call will actually take place, but their assistant. We are the gatekeepers. We man the phones and the emails and the calendars for others. We are a buffer between the inefficiency a busy executive fears and cannot afford. We filter out what is not worth their time and let through what we deem appropriate based on a very deep, almost intimate knowledge of those we work for. In a world of rampant communication flooding in through ever increasing means, Gatekeepers hold the nonsense at bay and preserve an atmosphere of order and organization amidst the tweets and pokes and cold calls of our ever changing business culture.

Every Gatekeeper is aware of this power. And, as often is the case with power, there are those who abuse it. You see, there’s a code, an unspoken but highly respected code of conduct for all Gatekeeper to Gatekeeper—G2G—interactions. We are cordial, empathetic and accommodating. We are to the point. We don’t sugarcoat. If we know there is not a snowball’s chance in Hawaii that our exec would even spare 5 seconds in an empty elevator with your exec, we say so. But we say so in a way that sounds more like, “It’s nothing personal, honey. You know how the boys are.” If we happen to interact often, we form little bonds and relax formalities, sending smileys and LOLs in our emails and using our casual “girl talk” on voice mail messages.

Just the other day, I got a G2G call on my cell in the middle of lunch. In our world, a cell phone call is only warranted in an dire emergency. We know full well that we are not top level VPs with our phones becoming organically fused to our palms, holding conference calls in the bathroom or over Valentine’s Day brunch. We know that away from our desks means on our own precious personal time and therefore off limits. But, it was Sheila and we go way back. She reminds me a lot of me ten years ago; energetic, driven, persistent, always following up on emails with a phone call no less than two hours later. Crisp and professional, she apologized for calling my cell then explained the urgent matter. After a few seconds, the crisis was handled, she apologized again and the call was over. That is G2G communication at its finest.

Unfortunately, for every Sheila, there is a Gatekeeper who does not keep the code, who is burnt out after too many years in the press with a tyrant of a boss or who is somewhat confused about her role and has blurred the line between support person and Queen Bitch of the Office. Rather than acting as the wise, careful extension of her boss, she thinks she is the boss. My last run in with this kind of renegade Gatekeeper started in December with the attempted scheduling of a meeting at her office which is actually right downtown. Not travel required, no huge advance needed. My boss would go there and meet for a couple of hours with her CEO and CFO. Sounds simple enough. Or so it would have been for say, Sheila. But this woman, Gail, has sat on this thing for two months. I am still, as of today, scheduling this meeting. We have confirmed no less than three dates, all of which she canceled the day before. She does not return my phone calls and the one time I was able to catch her at her desk to ask why she had not responded to my last email with a new set of good dates for yet another rescheduling, she asked me to send her an email to follow up because she about to step away! Last week, she sent me a note that read: Since you have not responded to my email about the 22nd, we need to look at a date in March. I could have burst into flames. Instead, I replied; Gail, please see the attached reply wherein I confirmed the 22nd for both [my guys], and hurriedly hit send before I said something she would probably make sure that I lived to regret.

My boss has asked me repeatedly about the status of the scheduling and seems to understand the trouble I’m having. He even went as far as to contact Gail’s boss to say that he’s been trying to confirm but keeps “hitting road blocks” to which her boss replied that he would try to move things along. That confirms to me that its 100% Gail sitting over there in that office power tripping, holding up progress, likely costing us both money in the long run. I have since sent two unanswered emails and left a voice mail. Still nothing.

I’m about to file this one away and go on with my life but the blatant disrespect for the code makes me bristle. How dare she? Our jobs are tedious and stressful. The responsibilities placed on us are heavy burdens that we are expected to carry with charm and enthusiasm daily. She knows this. To add to that weight is a slap in the face and a disgrace to those of us who actually take the role seriously. But, what I don’t think Gail realizes is that I have her office address and I’ve gotten friendly with their receptionist after so many attempts to track her down. So, with every unreturned message, every ignored email, every meeting cancellation, I’ve inched ever closer to picking up the phone and ordering her that “Hot Southern Nights” gift basket chock full of edible panties, flavored massage oil and Anal-Ease to be hand delivered by a well-built gentleman wearing nothing but Speedos and a bow-tie with specific instructions not to give it directly to her, but to place it on the break room table bearing a tag prominently displaying the message “For Gail, when the wife’s away, the mice will play!”

Wednesday, February 24, 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.
  • Following in LC's footsteps, Ugly Betty actor Mark Indelicato will be interning at fashion mag Teen Vogue. Unlike other celebs who wanted to work at fashion magazines (athletes, socialites), we think this one fits. Mark is one: a teenager, and two: actually is really into fashion. We wish him luck! [NY Mag]
  • Female MBA-holders are still not receiving the same pay as their male counterparts said a study released by Catalyst this past week. 60% of women who responded said that their first job was entry-level, whereas the male number came in at 46%. It was also reported that women made an average of $4,600 less than males in their first job. [Wall Street Journal]
  • From tomorrow until Sunday, Dress for Success is urging women nationwide to donate one new or nearly new interview suit at any Dressbarn store to help other women find the perfect outfit to get the job. [NY Daily News]
  • According to this NY Mag article, all the cool kids at Conde Nast are biking to work. Go green and try biking to work once the weather gets a little bit nicer! [NY Mag]

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Planning my escape a year in advance

When I first set out in the working world and had to face the thought of only having 10 vacation days a year, I couldn’t wrap my head around it. You mean I could only have 10 days to myself the ENTIRE YEAR? Doesn’t that seem cruel?!

I certainly wasn’t pleased with my work-to-vacation ratio, but I dove right and discovered that the 10 days were manageable. Sure, I would have loved more time off (a lot more time off), but I quickly learned how to utilize personal days, maximize sick days and how to hug weekends and holidays to make vacations last a little longer.

My old job was super flexible. I only had to give a day’s notice before I’d be flying high with sweet little vacation day. My new job? Not so much.

Now I get 15 vacation days a year, which sounded like quite a bit at first. But when I found out that time off is determined on a first-come, first-served basis, I knew I had to act fast. Especially after my boss informed me that my coworker had saved almost all of his vacation time for the end of last year and caused quite a commotion. Much like the cartoon above, he left the team high and dry right at the busiest time of year because he hasn’t planned accordingly. And after hearing that, I certainly don’t want to be that guy.

Planning for the entire year is quite a daunting task. But I laid out my little calendar, had long talks with my boyfriend and my family, and somehow managed to plan out 99% of my vacation time and get it all approved. Phew.

At least it gives me something to look forward to. But I have to admit, it’s a bit stifling thinking that all my days off are already planned. So much for being spontaneous! I guess that’s what sick days are for, right?

My first vacation day is exactly 28 workdays away. Not that I’m counting or anything…

So what about you? How do you tackle vacation days? Do you have to plan them way far out like I do or can you simply fly by the seat of your pants?

Monday, February 22, 2010

Stress Cooking..!!

You've heard of stress eating, right? Well, I do this new thing called stress cooking. When I'm stressed out about work there's just something about following a recipe (or even making up my own) that calms and relaxes me. When I was unemployed for the past 6+ months (or FUNemployed as my friend recently called it) I took up cooking as a hobby. I come from an Italian family of cooks, bakers, and professional eaters so I guess the day was bound to happen.

It actually started as a baking hobby. I found a Betty Crocker Cupcakes book and I decided to try out a few. I made ones that looked like frogs, Spongebob, monkeys, Elmo, you name it, I decorated it. I test drove them on the kids I babysit for and they went over so well that I've actually been paid to make cupcakes for birthday parties, holiday parties and other special occasions (including a cake I made for a party my mom was having with the women she plays golf with).

There are some really great blogs out there about cooking and baking (especially cupcakes!) but my favorite I have to say is one of my friends (lets call her Cooking Working Girl) that started a blog called Big Girls, Small Kitchen. It is "a food and recipe guide for twenty-something cooks looking for user-friendly, affordable ways to navigate their kitchens. More importantly, this blog offers fun and easy entertaining tips to help all cooks make the most of the tools available, big kitchen or small."

Congratulations to Cooking Working Girl for actually building enough traffic to her blog to get noticed by a publisher! Her cookbook will be in stores next summer!

Sunday, February 21, 2010

"Boss": Incredibly Awesome; Miraculous; Great*

Imagine you work at a PR agency and your client calls you with an urgent request. "Hello, I've got an urgent request," he says.

Quickly, you run through all the possibilities in your head: it could be putting together a quick wrap-up report of all the coverage surrounding some random obscure thing an executive was supposedly quoted as saying sometime between May and October, maybe it's rescheduling that interview with the LA Times that has already been rescheduled five times in two weeks, or worse, maybe it's calculating media impressions broken out by key word. Please let it not be the impressions, you say to yourself. I hate that damn website.

Instead, he asks if you can make a run that afternoon to the Quiksilver store just around the corner (you try to hide the surprise in your voice, uh-huh, sounds doable so far ...), purchase Kelly Slater's new book, For The Love (sinch), and then get it signed. Slater will be there to autograph the book, he continues, so you might have to stand in a long line. He's kind of a big deal. (Ok, sure.) (Wait, what?!)

Two Decembers ago, that's exactly what happened. My boss was the client with the urgent request. I was the feeling-totally-guilty person needing the book signed (it was going to be a Christmas present for Hubs). The poor agency girl who took the call was herself, haha, nope that wasn't me ... and well, I guess I'll never know what went running through her head that day.

I promise this story has a point. Or, a question rather: What makes a good boss? Besides pulling strings for you to ensure his awesome gift idea for your spouse gets played out to perfection (yes, can you believe, those shenanigans were all his idea, not mine), what else is there? Let's talk about it.

In my opinion, a good boss/manager is a good leader. First of all, let's clarify that a person may be a manager, but a terrible leader. On the flip side, a person may be a leader (as I'm sure we all are to some capacity), but not yet a "manager." How would you define a leader vs. a manager? To me, leaders inspire. Leaders are experts. And leaders motivate. And last but not least, leaders have followers. Truly, it's the leaders who make the best managers.

Secondly, a good manager puts 100% trust in his direct reports. He knows without doubt that they'll get the job done on time and with acute attention to detail. Have you ever had a boss who micro-manages? It's the worst! It's not only annoying, but it brings down your confidence. You can't help but ask yourself, "Why does my manager feel the need to constantly check up on me? Am I really that bad at my job?" Luckily, I have a boss who trusts me.

And third, a good boss keeps you in the loop. He is honest and open about projects and provides the big picture instead of just handing you petty assignments that you have no idea why he's asking for it or what for. Or when there's changes happening, he explains why and tells you, "This is everything I know, I'll let you know more when I do." He confides in you as if you're equals, not he the big fish and you the guppie.

Which brings me to the sad fact that I am losing the best manager, boss, leader, however you want to put it, I've ever had. Things are changing for me right now. It's been a rough few weeks, and the most devastating part is having to say good-bye.

(No, neither of us were fired, phew. Maybe will save it for another post.)

* Did you get my clever double meaning? :)

Thursday, February 18, 2010

30 is the New 24?

Yesterday, whether I wanted to or not, I turned 30. Nothing weird happened. No one stopped by to revoke my PYT membership. The guy at the counter still asked me for my ID for that bottle of Moscato that I drained after slicing a gorgeous red velvet cake in honor of the occasion. And my insurance company did not seek me out for a new low rate effective immediately. What did happen was actually quite wonderful. My children presented gifts that they had selected for me along with a card that erupts with "how sweet it is to be loved by you" each time I open it. My family called and pulled me from a perfectly restful sleep at 12:03AM singing their own special rendition of the birthday song and despite the grogginess, I had to smile. I've received numerous well-wishes and encouraging words throughout the day by phone, email, Facebook and heads poked into my office door (yeah, I worked on my birthday. that taking off thing seems so 22 to me). A fellow Working Girl, out of the blue, invited me to lunch and I had dinner at one of my favorite restaurants. I treated myself to that new black handbag I've been lusting after.

And apparently, 30 is the new 24, or so one of my well wishers informed me. Really? A quick browse around the web revealed women by the droves in their 30s and 40s who could have easily passed for 25 so perhaps there's something to that. I won't start wearing my hems below the knee just yet.

After a wonderfully perfect day yesterday, I get a headline alert this afternoon on my cell phone that read: Runaway Zebra Loose on Atlanta Freeway. Can you say Madagascar meets Grand Theft Auto? Traffic was backed up for hours until they finally caught the poor guy (gal?) and walked it (down the shoulder) back to wherever it escaped from. I'm just glad I wasn't in that part of town today to see a Zebra go trotting by my window. I'm amazed that there wasn't a pileup. With the way people drive when five snowflakes fall, you would think a zebra would spark an even more chaotic reaction.

And speaking of snow, how about that blizzard last week, dubbed the Snowpacalypse. Thanks to that "inclement weather," there was snow on the ground in 49 of the 50 states with Hawaii being the only holdout. Amazing! Unfortunately, our snow fell on Friday afternoon causing my office to close a mere one hour earlier than scheduled. I actually stayed 12 minutes late because I was swamped and couldn't just leave everything. By Saturday afternoon, most of the snow had melted in my neck of the woods and by Sunday, it was in the 50s. Too bad. I could have used a "real" snow day! (*sigh*)

Wednesday, February 17, 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.
  • A recent report by Prudential revealed that a man who draws his pension this year will have an average retirement income of 19,593 pounds, while a woman will only receive 12,169 pounds. The reason the gap is widening is because many women stop working or only work part time so they can raise their children. [Finance Markets]
  • After letting Barbie fans vote, Mattel has announced that the doll's next career move will be a computer engineer. This will be Barbie's 126th career after turning 50 last year. Fun fact: the doll's accessories were chosen with the help of the Society of Women Engineers and the National Academy of Engineering. [New York Times]

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Sit and be fit

Yes, my post today is inspired by the sensational senior fitness show on PBS. The Sit and Be Fit woman is one smart lady, let me tell you. I only wish I had her dedication. Because honestly, I think I’m going to need it.

At my office, there is never a shortage of donuts, candy, cookies and chocolate. You name it, you can find it there. Whether it’s free cookie day or someone's birthday, I never have to travel far to satisfy my sweet tooth. Not to mention the Christmas candy I still have stashed in my desk drawer (shameful, I know).

But last Friday, after one too many large frosted Valentine’s Day sugar cookies and the ensuing sugar-coma stomachache, I realized it was time for me to shape up or ship out. And since I can’t go a day without chocolate, I decided to suck it up and start working out (one of my least favorite pastimes).

The only problem is that I have NO idea when to squeeze in workouts during the week. I’m gone every day from 7:30am to 6:30pm, and when I get home, I eat dinner, watch a little TV (I need my Modern Family, Office and Bachelor fixes!) and then go to bed. Sure, I could get up extra early to work out, but I love to sleep. And I am most definitely NOT a morning person.

So that’s when I started thinking about Sit and Be Fit (maybe I shouldn’t admit that). I spend most of my day sitting at my desk hunched over like a lump, but who says I have to? Isn’t there a way I could fit exercises into my workday? I did a little Google investigating and discovered some very fascinating work-based exercise sites…

5 Minute Office Workout—MSN created this cool, interactive site with a bunch of great workouts led by Bob Harper (of Biggest Loser fame). Some of these require some equipment (like a baby…weird), but they’re pretty handy. Plus, it offers step-by-step guides and lunch tips. Yum!

Desktop Yoga—For those of you looking for a more inconspicuous workout, take a breather with yoga poses you can easily do at your desk. They’ll help you feel refreshed, control your breathing and release built-up tension. Happy stretching!

Desk Exercises—This straightforward site lets you choose the area you want to target and then gives you a variety of detailed instructions on how to work that area…at work. It offers quick fitness solutions to common trouble areas, which are sure to be helpful. Say goodbye to a pain in the neck!

Hopefully your coworkers won't think you're too weird when you're spotted doing sit-ups or lifting babies in your cubicle. So go ahead and have fun getting fit at work. After all, it's like getting paid to exercise...right?

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Pop! Goes my Valentine Ego

If there was only one Super Bowl ad that really spoke to working girls this year, it would have to be Teleflora's laugh-out-loud funny "talking flowers" ad.

Now we all know Valentine's Day is tomorrow. And if I don't say so myself, I think the men got off easy this year. Because I mean, let's admit, we all want to be "that girl" at work whose man gets her a gorgeous array of flowers delivered to her desk on Valentine's Day, right? It could even be from mom, a roommate, a random cute stranger a la romantic comedy plot cliche ... who cares!

But with Valentine's Day on a Sunday this year, is it still required of guys to send their gals flowers a little early on Friday, just so that she can feel special in front of all her work friends? Do guys even think ahead like that, or is it just me? Some of us even had Friday off for President's Day. So what then, a Thursday delivery? Way too early, in my opinion. And the marketing side in me is also asking, well, Teleflora Marketing Dept, was your ad really worth the $2.5-$2.8M for 30 seconds of air-time when it happens to be the one year guys can technically get away with not sending anything at all?

Well, at any rate, Teleflora's ad was very effective in sticking in my mind and creating a perception that flowers in a box are lousy. (A real bummer, yeah?)

It's my husband who didn't get the message.

So my birthday was Thursday. Hubs, as sweet as he is, has gotten into a little habit of combining these two uber-major holidays into one since they're only three days apart. What will typically happen is that he'll get me flowers delivered to work on my birthday which end up lasting through Valentine's Day, so when all's said and done, on Valentine's Day I still have flowers on my desk. And bragging rights.

(I guess I can't blame him and expect two flower deliveries within three days, can I? Although one can only hope ...)

Back to Thursday. So as my team and I were headed out for my birthday lunch, we notice a box at the reception desk. At first, some of the girls (myself included) were all, "Aww! Someone got flowers!" when almost immediately, the conversation turned to the Teleflora Super Bowl ad and how hilarious it was, and, kinda true. In no time, not a single one of us was jealous anymore of whoever those flowers were for.

Skip to post-lunch and we're walking back into the office. Guess what's on my desk?

I wanted to feel happy, excited and special, but um, they're flowers in a box ... Awkward!

The girls got a huge kick out of this and gathered round while I opened the box to see if indeed they were dead and smelly. For a second, I thought for sure I'd hear some snarky comments coming from the box, "Is he your cousin or didja meet him in prison?"

Well, they weren't dead, they were nice. Although they were a little on the wilty side, and the roses were not your top of the line roses, you know, the huge must-be-on-steroids-looking kind of roses.

I still felt special ........ Especially since I told Hubs not to get me flowers this year to save some cash. Awwwwww. It's still the thought that counts.

Tell us your Valentine's Day work stories! Would love to hear them.

Wednesday, February 10, 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.
  • Think Danica Patrick is the only professional woman in the race car driving industry? Think again. Read this article to learn more about the women of NASCAR. [Yahoo Sports]
  • According to Elizabeth Cashdan, a professor at the University of Utah, women who work release more hormones that help them become physically stronger so they can deal with the stress of their jobs. So if I work more you get skinnier? 12-hour workday here I come! [The Times of India]
  • This site cracks me up. Sick of pointless meetings? Visit MEETorDIE, a website that puts a dollar sign on the time left in the board room. Hour meeting on email approval procedures? You just lost $50,000 of production time for the company. [Urban Daddy]

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Snow Daze

At the mere mention of “winter storm warning”, I become giddy with anticipation. I wish, I hope and I pray for a snow day, just like a little kid.

It starts the night before—I always have a hard time falling asleep as I plan all the fun things I can do on my unexpected day off. And when I wake up the next day, it almost feels like Christmas morning. I eagerly leap out of bed before my alarm goes off and run to the window, my snow day hopes flying high.

But as soon as I see the snowflakes, I remember that I’m now a working girl. And a snow day in the corporate world would pretty much NEVER happen—especially where I live. But I still can’t help feeling a tiny bit of hope every time. And a bit of envy (teacher friends, you are SO lucky!)

For me, snow days are a thing of a past. Instead, I get to look forward to the intense thrill ride that is my commute to and from work on snowy days. On the way home tonight, I fish-tailed all over the entrance ramp to the highway. Nothing’s more exhilarating than losing control of your car! Or not. I don’t know why more companies don’t call for snow days—sometimes the driving is way too treacherous to be out and about. My hands were cramped from gripping the wheel so hard. Yikes.

But the thing that always lifts my melted little spirits on my non-snow days is reading the list of closings and cancellations. Have you ever really looked at the names? They’re hilarious. My personal favorite is the Swingin’ Senior Singles Meet-up (hey, it beats bingo). And The Future of America Preschool (now that’s pressure). Or what about Little City Kids (I feel like that isn’t very PC)? But some of the places really bug me, like Kidz Development Center and Kinder Korner. Those names are just WRONG. I certainly will never send my kids to a place that intentionally misspells its name to be cute. (Sorry, that’s my biggest pet peeve. Moving on…)

Sigh. I miss snow days. And clearly I spend way too much time at work thinking about this.

In other news, my class “speech” went so well! Thanks for all the advice! Though I think I said, “Oh yeah, good times” at least 10 times. Nothing like a catchy verbal crutch, right? And when someone asked me what activities I did in college, I couldn’t really remember. How sad is that? I went from feeling like I was still a student to feeling like I was totally ancient. Whoa. But my old professor said it went really well and the kids asked a lot of questions, so the time flew by.

So what’s on your mind? Any thoughts on snow days? Or the weather? Or absurd pet peeves, like mine? Feel free to share!

Monday, February 8, 2010

Go For The Gold!

The 2010 Olympics are upon us and WG2 can vouch for me when I say I am obsessed with anything involving Olympics. I have organized my fair share of Beer Olympics with hope that it may one day become big enough to make it to NBC. (Keep you fingers crossed). Being a fan of The Office and The Olympics, I could not resist posting this photo from the beloved episode of "The Office" when Jim organizes events to help the employees bond on a day when the boss is away. Luckily when Michael Scott returns he is not angry, but rather rewarded with a gold medal crafted from the foil seal on a yogurt cup.

Anyway, I took it upon myself to do some internet searching and found that MANY offices have created their own Office Olympics! Unfortunately teachers are not allowed to leave the children to participate in said events, but we do have In Service and Training days where it wouldn't hurt to incorporate some sportsmanship.

Enough talking, here are some of the best Office Olympic Events I found...

Chair Rowing-Seated competitors must push off with both feet. Bonus points for faking a rowing motion with hands. Coxswain optional.

Target Shooting-Contestants throw Sharpies at paper target from a fixed distance. Must leave a mark (on target, not contestant) to score.

Coffee Mug Marathon-Athletes carrying coffee cups filled to the brim must circle the floor at least six times. Winners are judged by a combination of fastest time and least amount spilled. (Bonus points for using piping-hot coffee.)

Shot Put-Employees attempt to heave a stapler the longest distance using traditional shot-putting techniques. (Event is best held in a parking lot or a padded room.)

Paper Sculling-Individuals or teams construct a boat out of office paper and blow it across a tub of water in head-to-head competition. Sinking is an automatic DQ.

Office Ping-Pong-Clear a conference table and set a line of books across the middle to make a net. Opponents use either a book or a bare hand to compete. Ping-Pong or other bouncy ball required. Hard hats optional.

Hurdles-Competitors race down a hallway, leaping over reams of paper (low difficulty), boxes (medium difficulty), or office chairs (high difficulty/rather stupid).

Book Balance Beam-Athletes prance across a narrow, stacked row of books at least 2 feet high and 8 feet long. Routines are evaluated, rated and, of course, mocked by a panel of judges.

I love the comments we get when we end posts with a question, so I have to ask...does your place of work participate in sports/olympic-like events? (Would it be inappropriate to suggest 'child-hurling' at my school's next training day!?)

Sunday, February 7, 2010

Power Suits Are a Myth

In honor of Love Month ... and going along the same theme as Teaching Working Girl's last post (nice one!) here's what I love most about my job:


"Eeets tha baste!" (Nacho Libre? Anyone?) Is PR typically like that, you ask? Hmm, not necessarily. It really depends on the agency, each one is so different. Although, the smaller boutique-y type of agencies tend to be more casual. Since I work in-house at a large company vs. at a PR agency, we follow the overall company's dress code guidelines. Luckily our brand skews the younger demographic and is super laid back, so our office environment embodies this great "come as you are" philosophy. I highly dig. Employees are encouraged to wear what's most comfortable to them, because at the end of the day what matters is that you get your work done, not what you wear.

My last job, however, was at a very large PR agency in Chicago where the dress code was business casual every day and formal business attire when clients were in the house. I would often tell myself that I enjoyed dressing up for work, but man, when you have to stop by the grocery store after work or run an errand at CVS, heels and nice clothes were a major pain. Finally, after a lot of prodding from employees, "casual Fridays" or "jeans Fridays" was born. But there were still really strict rules. There was even a secret dress code enforcer person who made his/her rounds through cube city every day policing the entire office to make sure no flip flops, sneakers or T-shirts had entered the building.

Ironically, this ended up not being such a good thing for me.

One Friday, my team had a big client in town, and I showed up to our meeting in jeans. I was still very put together and professional looking, mind you. My jeans were of the dark and skinny variety, I had on black peep-toe heels and a very nice well-taiored top. My boss, oh yeah, she came into the meeting with a full-on suit, a silky fucia top and big jewelry around her neck. As soon as she saw me, her eagle eye that never missed a thing looked me up and down. I could tell she was not happy.

After the meeting, she pulled me aside (oh no, please please please tell me I'm not fired) and tersely whispered that even though it was "casual Friday" we always dress up for the client. No ifs, ands or buts. I was mortified.

But you see, the tables have now turned. When folks from our PR agency come into the office for meetings all dressed up and dapper-looking, I can't help but smile at how ridiculous and uncomfortable they look while the rest of us, the client, are dressed in jeans, sweats and Uggs.

*OK, OK, OK guys. It's a day later and I realize this post makes it sound like I come to work each day looking--and smelling--like a homeless slob. Haha. Not true. It's the option to wear something very loose and comfortable (such as on a Friday before a long holiday weekend) or a cute, planned out outfit (which I shoot for most days) that I love about not having a dress code. Cool? OK. Now get back to work.

Thursday, February 4, 2010

Go Go Gadget

Sleek laptops, phones that do everything but take out the trash, a World Wide Web ready to return thousands of options to any old random search for information . . . Working Girls today have it made! It wasn't that long ago that telephone had big spinning dials and a computer filled an entire room (yet still did not have the computer power of even the cheapest cell phone today). I heard one horror story about having to cut and paste (literally, with scissors and paste) advertisements by hand. Can you imagine such nonsense today, in 2010, in the land of Kindle?

Last year, I became the proud owner of an iPhone and just months later, I'm wondering how I survived without it. There's no doubt that technology and all the gadgets it spawns have completely changed the working landscape, allowing us to work smarter, faster and less expensively while creating new career paths and shaping our way of life.

Here are just a few electronic marvels that every Working Girl should have on her "must have" list.

  1. Quick Charge – Throw your cellphone, bluetooth, MP3 player or camera onto its surface for instant charging. No wires, no need to plug anything in! My girls thinks it’s magic! Retailing around $100 bucks, its practical and affordable. For charging on the go, the RCA AirEnergy unit converts the WiFi antenna signal to DC power to recharge its own internal lithium battery, so it automatically recharges itself whenever the device is anywhere near a WiFi hotspot. If you have a wireless network at home the AirEnergy would recharge overnight virtually anywhere in your home. When you need to recharge your phone or other device you plug the AirEnergy battery in via USB to transfer the charge.

  1. A Digital Notepad – Do you prefer to hand write but don’t because you need to store you data electronically? Can’t afford a tablet PC? Will, note takers of the world, your solution has arrived. Whatever you write on the Digimemo Digital Notepad, you can download via USB to your computer for filing, storing or printing! Also going for around a palatable $100.

  1. Turn-by-Turn Directions – Face it Working Girls. Time is money so don’t waste it wandering around aimlessly searching for a destination. Its 2010. Go ahead and get a GPS! Garmin and Tom Tom both has decent models that do the job between $120 and $150. Even if you have GPS on your cell phone, having a freestanding GPS just makes sense. Even if you have a GPS app on your cell phone, it’s just makes sense.

  1. Webcam/Headset – I’m still amazed at how many Working Girls are not taking full advantage of the time and money saving aspects that the internet can bring. With the aid of a webcam and headset (which isn’t necessary if you have a build in microphone), the internet transforms into a powerful networking tool that allows you to place calls for free or really (really) cheap, hold online meetings, create videos for YouTube and social networking sites and, of course, keep in touch with family and friends. Webcams range in price from around $50 into the hundreds with varying features and functions. There’s one to fit every budget and need. For shooting video away from the computer, the Flip is a winner with its High Def video quality, portable, user friendly design and, most importantly, affordable price. You can get one with a with 2 hours worth of memory for $129.

What are some of the gadgets that YOU just can't live without?