Friday, May 28, 2010
This has been bugging me for some time now. Is it so hard to respond to emails? I mean, really? Do some people just have really bloated egos or something that they think they're too busy and too important to respond to your email in a timely manner? Do some people just think that when someone emails them something, like say, a question, that they're just asking the question for fun and that they're not really expecting an answer? Do some people just think that by ignoring an email, the problem will disappear and the sender will magically and conveniently forget about sending the email in the first place? AHHH!
How about a little bit of email courtesy, huh?? For example, when you receive an email that is asking you a question or when there is an expectation on their part for you to deliver information back to them, the professional thing to do would be to email them promptly with a response. And by promptly, I mean within a day or two, or even three.
Is that asking too much?!
So let's say you really are too busy and unable to respond, is it really that hard to type a quickie wee little note in the interim like, "Hey, thanks for writing, but can I get back to you later on this?" or "Great question, I don't know right now, but please try checking in with me next week," or even a "Sorry, I'm really swamped right now, I promise I will look at this later," is great and much better than nothing.
I just HATE it when instead my emails are ignored and I am left with just waiting. I don't even mind following up, I understand when things come up, when emails get accidently overlooked or when things really are too crazed. But when it happens all the time, then I know there is a problem. Makes me just want to scream and cut my head off.
Seriously, how unprofessional. How rude. And how inconsiderate. Email courtesy has to be some kind of skill, don't you think? Because I've known some very busy and very important people who can manage to respond to emails promptly. And when they do, it makes me feel good, it makes me feel like I'm important to them, like my thoughts and questions matter. On the other hand, when it gets to feeling like I'm sending emails to some inbox stationed in outer space in some other galaxy far, far away, I just feel lousy, belittled and super frustrated. (Can you tell yet?)
If you're noticing a pattern of not being able to respond to emails promptly because of your heavy workload or because of your demanding schedule, then in my opinion, it's time to reorganize and make-over your time management system. Or, if you're the type of person who sees and reads emails but chooses to purposefully ignore them, then shame on you!!
I admit that in several cases, no response to emails has led me to just figure stuff out on my own, but that was when I was I new and entry-level. I probably did ask some dumb questions. But now that I'm older, I've learned that what you send in an email should be well thought out beforehand because it is also courteous of the sender to do her part in solving problems on her own and simply getting the job done, perhaps in a different way than originally planned.
Either way, I can't help but notice over the years that there are some people who simply have no courtesy or professionalism when it comes to email. Probably the nicest, not just most professional thing you can do as a working professional, is to respond to your emails in a timely manner. It's just good karma, and we could all use a little more in this world.
Ok, deep breaths. Thanks ladies for letting me get that off my chest. Any thoughts?
Tuesday, May 25, 2010
Copy usually goes through many rounds of reviews and revisions with a million different people. With so many cooks in the kitchen, it’s easy to see why there’s so much bad copy out there. I’m looking at you, Folger’s Christmas commercial. Remember that one? With the brother coming home from Africa to surprise his family for Christmas? If not, this should jog your memory. The copy was so poorly written that it just ended up coming off as creepy, not sentimental. Instead of being cute, it seemed to me like the brother and sister had a different kind of relationship, if you know what I mean.
But then there’s the copy that makes me proud of my profession. Once in awhile I’ll stumble upon a really great print ad, a hilarious commercial or another copywriter’s portfolio and it reminds me why I wanted to be a copywriter in the first place.
Yesterday, as I was leafing through an old copy of People magazine (hey, it was a slow afternoon), I stumbled upon an article about people going to extremes to get a job. The first part was about a highly imaginative copywriter named Lawson Clarke. He created the website entitled Male Copywriter to show off his…assets. (NOTE: Probably not suitable for work) I was so intrigued by the write-up that I immediately checked out the site. It’s amazing. Not to mention totally hilarious. The main page sets quite a sassy tone and let me tell you, his body of work does not disappoint. I went from laughing out loud at the copious amounts of hair and one very strategically placed TV, to being completely inspired by this guy’s talent…and his moxie.
So go ahead and check it out when it’s safe. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed. I’m sure you’ve seen some of his work before. Remember those Carnival commercials? I can’t stop looking through his site. And no, it’s not because I’m dazzled by his manly chest hair and sexy little ‘stache. It’s because one day I truly hope to be as cool as that guy.
Monday, May 24, 2010
It may be early, but with the beautiful weather in NJ this past weekend I can't resist. I know, I know, you think I'm going to write about how great it is to be a teacher when the summer rolls around. Well, these days school is not ending until the last day in June and unfortunately my preschool runs all summer so I, like most of you working girls, will be working 9-6 all year long (and unlike Ad Working Girl's fiance and his teacher friends)!
So as I sit with my coworkers writing this post during my lunch hour (so much for prepping for class tomorrow!) we are thinking of things to do while we are bored this summer, here are some of our own ideas as well as the internet's! Enjoy!
*Make a scrapbook (from a trip, from the summer, of your closest friends, anything!)
*Have a picnic with that special someone
*Handwrite and mail a letter to someone
*Go to a baseball game (local or professional!)
*Make dinner for your family
*Keep a journal
*Make a new kind of sandwich (and name it after yourself)
*Start a website about one of your passions
*Go to the zoo
*Have a winter themed party
*Help someone young set up their first lemonade stand
*Have game night
*Go to an outdoor concert
*Fly a kite in the park or at the beach
*Attend a first aid class (trust me, it's worth the cheesy videos and painfully long lectures)
*Go without TV for a day (or as many days as you can handle!)
*Make homemade ice cream
*Learn how to sew
*Rearrange your room
*Take a midnight swim
I know it's a long list, but there are some things on there that I'm sure you've never done before. Feel free to add on to this list with some of your ideas!
Saturday, May 22, 2010
In high school, I was a pretty cool girl (at least in my head). I had a lot of friends and I like to think the popular kids found me tolerable. I was in band (not pep band, that's a totally different world) as a third chair clarinet, and one year my name actually managed to find itself listed as a runner-up for Homecoming queen. I ran track and cross country, I was no star, just average, and I was on the Yearbook staff as Sports Editor. Man, I hate sports, who knows how I ever got that role. And like every other girl, I lived for the dances. My baby sister's prom is actually tonight, aw so cute.
Anyway, so what am I afraid of? Who am I afraid of seeing? I don't know, I just think it will all be very awkward, that's all. Awkward because I haven't kept in touch with anyone (except for my best friend, we're going together btw, thank goodness for her). Awkward because I feel like the small town I grew up in isn't "home" anymore since I haven't been back in years and since my family moved away after I left for college. Awkward because I think most of my classmates stayed put, and according to Facebook it looks like many actually married each other. Can we say insta-clique?
And speaking of Facebook, a lot of us have reconnected over the years. Yet, we don't do anything beyond friending each other. So technically, I don't think Facebook counts when it comes to "staying in touch" ... hm, unless you count Facebook stalking? So I don't keep in touch with anyone, yet thanks to Facebook I still know how many kids people have, where they went to college, what they had for breakfast, how they feel about the weather, oh and I've even seen all the pics from their last vacation and probably left a cute comment in there somewhere, etc. All that personal stuff! AHH! Yet when we see each other next month, I'm betting it'll still feel like 10 years are between us. So awkward! See why I'm freaking out?
OR, what if I get there and me and an old classmate start talking and everything. And what if what I remember about her isn't what she remembers about me? Like, I remember something good (i.e. that we were friends) and she remembers something bad (i.e. that one time I made her mad and she ended up hating me forever and I never knew about it)? Ugh, the horrors.
And what exactly am I supposed to wear to the reunion? On TV, it's always the picture of, "Oh, I have to look super sexy and have really white teeth and nicely-toned arms so that guy I had a crush for three whole years will regret he never hooked up with me." I guess the good news is that I don't have any kids, so I don't have any baby fat to worry about losing in four weeks ...
Also causing me jitters is the inevitable, "So what have you been up to these past 10 years?" question. I've been thinking a lot about this. So, what have I done? Did I accomplish all I've wanted to do? Did I land in the career I've always wanted? Do I have any regrets? Am I a better person? Have I changed the world yet??
If you've been to your high school reunion or have one coming up as well, I'd love your empathy and advice. Everyone else, please, just tell me it will all be OK!
Friday, May 21, 2010
It’s graduation season again! I’m sure everyone knows someone—friend, close or distant relative, friend of a friend, coworker—who is making that great leap from high school or college and transitioning into the next phase of their lives. I’m usually musing about graduates budding with promise, forging a path into a bright new tomorrow, but this year, not so much.
With the economy in sad shape and unemployment at record highs all over the country, I’m wondering just how much promise the future holds for these folks. If the high-schoolers are smart, they’ll go to college, if for no other reason, to delay entry into a practically non-existent job market and to leverage that degree in a few years to stand out from the massive crowd of competition. But, I guess that’s rather negative way to look at an occasion that, for most, marks the culmination of years of tedious classes, hard work and endless partying. Regardless of what’s going on out there in the world, for them, it’s time to celebrate.
When my sister graduated from college a few years ago, one of the most memorable moments from her ceremony, other than hearing her named called and watching her walk up to get her degree, was the commencement address delivered by Mae Jemison (first black woman in space, in case you didn't know). I was literally mesmerized the entire time she spoke. Her message for the graduates was clear and direct: “If you’re sitting around the table of life being polite and minding your manners, how much of a difference could you possibly make?” Goosebumps! I absolutely love those powerful, moving, soul-stirring messages prepared to usher new grads into the next phase of their lives. You can’t find richer motivation. One of my all time favorite commencement addresses was delivered by J.K. Rowling to the 2008 graduating class of Harvard University. She spoke about how the great failures in her life actually pushed her toward her current success. I took a snippet of the speech and posted it up at my desk as a constant reminder: “You might never fail on the scale I did, but some failure in life is inevitable. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”
This is also the time of year when I Google the "Mindset List” published by Beloit College. The provides insight to the world that today’s graduates grew up in, what shapes their mindset, if you will. This basically just makes me feel old, but it is interesting. Here are a few but you can find the entire list here:
- The Soviet Union has never existed and therefore is about as scary as the student union.
- They have known only two presidents.
- For most of their lives, major U.S. airlines have been bankrupt.
- They have grown up getting lost in "big boxes."
- There has always been only one Germany.
- They are wireless, yet always connected.
- A stained blue dress is as famous to their generation as a third-rate burglary was to their parents'.
- Thanks to pervasive headphones in the back seat, parents have always been able to speak freely in the front.
- A coffee has always taken longer to make than a milkshake.
- Smoking has never been permitted on U.S. airlines.
- Faux fur has always been a necessary element of style.
- They grew up pushing their own miniature shopping carts in the supermarket.
- They grew up with and have outgrown faxing as a means of communication.
- "Google" has always been a verb.
- Text messaging is their email.
- Bar codes have always been on everything, from library cards and snail mail to retail items.
- Madden has always been a game, not a Superbowl-winning coach.
- Young women's fashions have never been concerned with where the waist is.
- They have rarely mailed anything using a stamp.
- So" as in "Sooooo New York," has always been a drawn-out adjective modifying a proper noun, which in turn modifies something else.
No wonder, given this list, that the best grad gifts are tech gadgets! Smart phones, readers like Kindle and netbooks (aka mini-laptops) rank among the hottest! I'm actually looking for something memorable, inexpensive and "out of the box" (aka, not on that list) for a very special young lady who's graduating from high school. Any ideas?
Wednesday, May 19, 2010
For the past few weeks, I’ve been hearing all about “the countdown”. If you’re related to a teacher, friends with a teacher, or ever had a teacher, you know exactly what I’m talking about. All you have to do is ask is “how many days?” and they’ll practically scream out the number, unable to control their glee.
That question always leaves me wondering what my countdown is. To my next vacation day? New Year’s Day? The day I retire a million years from now? Which brings me to my biggest gripe about the working world: no end and no new beginning. School was so nice because you started in August, worked hard all year with an end in sight, and if you did a good (or at least adequate) job, you got to advance to a new level. Amazing! The funny thing is that I still think of my life in terms of the school year. I wish the corporate world would follow suit.
I just love hearing my fiancé and his teacher friends make all their grand plans for their long days of freedom. Sunday night cook-outs, Wednesday happy hours, and the absolute worst—fun days at my apartment complex’s pool….while I’m at work! No fair!
It’s times like those I find myself wishing I was a teacher. But then I remember that kids aren’t really my thing. Sure, I wouldn’t have to teach little kids, but I certainly wouldn’t want to put up with the drama that comes with high school students. My fiancé is a high school teacher and after hearing his hilarious stories of tears, angst and hissy fits, it makes me so glad I don’t deal with that on a daily basis.
Teachers work so hard the entire year and they definitely deserve the time off. I just wish corporate America would see how hard everyone works so we could all have summers off, too. Hey, a girl can dream! In the meantime, I’ll just enjoy the few days I do have off and hope that my fiancé might spend part of his long summer days making me delicious dinners to come home to. Yep, I'm still dreaming.
Sunday, May 16, 2010
I know I am the queen of the top 5 or 10 lists on this blog, but I just can't stop! I have been trying to make an effort to do things and visit places where I have always wanted to go. Sure I'd love traveling all over Europe and visiting every exotic island on the planet.
For now I'm starting with the little things. For example, I recently went to see the Rockettes, The Harlem Globetrotters, and yesterday took a trip up to the top of the Empire State Building.
Besides tropical vacations, I've visited cities such as Chicago, Detroit, DC, Toronto, LA, Vegas, Boston, but I'm looking to expand this list. It's a good feeling taking a long weekend away, but not too far away, to add to my list of travels. I'd love to go to Memphis, New Orleans, Houston, and Seattle. In this economic crisis, however, I want to make sure to get the most bang for my buck! So check out these cities that have something special but are also easy on the wallet!
Wichita, Kansas-the birthplace of Dennis the Menace and Pizza Hut, this city has 250 days of sunshine a year!
Oklahoma City-full of the cleanest air in the country the National Cowboy Hall of Fame is one of the hottest tourist attractions
Tulsa, Oklahoma-home of one of the world's biggest pizza/amusement parks with all-you-can-eat pizza and all-you-can-ride go-carts, bumper cars, and bowling til you drop! Tulsa also has the largest Oktoberfest in the world outside of Germany.
Knoxville, Tennessee-Home to Davy Crockett's famous rifle, Old Betsy and a great place for boat lovers who can sail more than 600 uninterrupted miles on smooth waters to the Ohio River.
Dayton, Ohio-This is where the Wright Brothers designed their first airplane! The cash register, stepladder, pop-top beverage can, movie projector, and the parking meter were also invented here.
I'm always looking for different places to visit that are a short plane ride away. If you have any suggestions or want to share a story from a weekend getaway, please do!
Thursday, May 13, 2010
Just a quick follow up from my post of last Thursday. I’ve decided that it won’t hurt to cast a line and see who bites. When, and only when, the right opportunity in the right location for the right number of dollars per year comes calling, I’ll happily hop off this miserable log. Tomorrow, we say farewell to that great friend and co-worker I mentioned and wish her well as she moves on to a new chapter in her career. Hopefully, by the time 5PM rolls around, I will have shaken this unnerving feeling of being somehow left behind.
Anyway, this month I’ve been trying to get organized and today, I took some time to clean out my personal email inbox. No big deal right? WRONG! I was shocked to discover that I had right around 10,000 emails dating all the way back to 2006. To lighten the burden a bit, I ran a few queries to knock out obvious junk and that whittled the count by about half. After that, I scrolled all the way to the bottom and started to go through them individually. I'm a stickler about holding on to emails out of pure sentimentalism. For instance, I don't delete emails from certain people, no matter the content and I never delete emails noting the start up of some online account, any account.
So, after a few minutes I came to realize a most amazing story unfolding there amidst the confirmation emails and subscription blasts. It was a buried treasure of sorts, a tomb of relics spanning four years, remnants of a former version of myself. There, perfectly preserved, was the email noting my reservation for a U-Haul truck that facilitated my departure from the hellish apartments I lived in when my youngest daughter was born. That single email triggered a flood of memories and emotions that I wasn’t quite expecting! I continued to scroll, reminisce and delete for hours. Hotel reservations from my sister’s graduation in Alabama. Payment notifications made way past the due dates during times when cash was tight. Monthly eZines from VeganAction shortly after I discovered the benefits of a nonviolent diet. Periodic emails from a guy I semi-dated years ago, each bearing the same question: “So, you doin’ alright?” Cell phone photos snapped on phones I no longer own. Feeds from blogs I followed years ago but no longer read. Some of these things, I can't believe I was even involved with, including a brief stint on a few dating sites after my divorce!
It turned out to be an amazing journey into the mind of the former me! I can't help but feel the change and growth with each passing year, with each message and subscription and confirmation. Of course, I didn’t get very far so there’s still a whole inbox full waiting to be unearthed! I think I'll do the same thing with my work email account. I'm wary of deleting messages there as there could be hell to pay if something vital gets lost. I can only imagine the stories lingering there to be revisited.
What does your ancient email say about you? Or are you one the good ones who keeps that inbox nice and tidy?
Wednesday, May 12, 2010
2. College Professors
3. Physical Therapists
4. Dental Hygienist
I'm sure most of us could predict some of these, college professor I was surprised at, as well as dental hygienist. Well, I guess everyone wants a white smile, right?
Tuesday, May 11, 2010
While my office is colorblind when it comes to Post-Its, they certainly have a flair for flamboyance when it comes to all things Sharpie. During my first week, my coworker took me on a field trip to the magical land known as the supply closet. And when she opened the door, I gasped in awe. There, right before me, was an entire industrial-sized cabinet filled with Sharpies in every size, shape and color of the rainbow. I felt like a kid in a candy store. It was an absolute dream.
At the time, I only grabbed a couple of fine point markers. But as the weeks went by, I kept sneaking back and adding to my Sharpie collection. I have oodles and oodles now in every color and I definitely put them to good use. I’m always doodling and switching colors to match my mood (nerd alert!), and I honestly believe they help my creativity. I do my best thinking when I’m drawing bright little palm trees and vivid patterns of polka dots**.
Have you checked out the Sharpie website? As a copywriter and advertising geek, it’s almost as amazing as the pens themselves. Though I have to admit that I’m a little disappointed that they’ve changed their tagline from “Write out loud” to “Uncap what’s inside”. It just doesn’t have the same pizzazz that it used to. Sharpies are loud and colorful and fun, and that’s why I love them.
* Please note that the people at Sharpie have not paid me to write this post, I just believe in them that much. But if they wanted to send some of the wonderful new Sharpie pens I’ve been lusting after my way, I wouldn’t say no. ;)
** Unfortunately it's not working for my writer's block. I’ve been in a bit of work slump and it’s caused me to lose my writing mojo. Bear with me, please, and feel free to share your love of Sharpies or any other exciting office supplies.
Sunday, May 9, 2010
Saturday, May 8, 2010
Mainly, I can't do it. Well, now I work from home, so it's not a problem for me anymore (that would just be really weird), but when I used to work in an office, I had this unexplainable phobia of talking to anyone who wasn't a co-worker or somehow otherwise work-related.
I could never talk to my husband, for example. I totally laid down the law about him calling me at work unless he absolutely had to. When we did talk at work, OMG, it would make me feel so uncomfortable, my voice would change and get all quiet, like I was pretending I wasn't actually talking to him and that he was just another co-worker or not even that, like a stranger! The worst was when he would say "I love you" before hanging up, and I'd just be like, "Yeah, um, OK bye."
Or, if I needed to schedule an appointment somewhere, like at the salon or at the dentist, I didn't feel comfortable doing it at my desk. Instead, I would write the number on a post-it note and then go outside to make the call on my cell phone. Isn't that so lame of me?
I don't know why this was on my mind, but I was just thinking this was a really strange pet peeve (of my own doing) that is office-related and I wanted to get your opinions. So I'm wondering, is anyone else weird about personal calls at work or is it just me? My previous co-workers seemed to think nothing of it. They'd carry on conversations with just about anyone and couldn't care less that we all could hear every single word. Cubes aren't exactly sound proof. And you can't help listening in, you know?
Maybe that's why. Maybe I was too embarrassed to have people eavesdropping on my personal conversations. I also felt like phone conversations at work should be kept to work-related stuff. Personal calls should be taken outside or during your lunch break. I know that sounds Nazi of me, but that's just the standard (if you can call it that) I held for myself. I didn't really care that much when other people had personal calls at work.
Thoughts, anyone, about "office phone etiquette"?
Thursday, May 6, 2010
- you brazenly surf Monster.com for the latest job postings.
- the C-level positions are a revolving door.
- the whole company, including the CEO, is regularly copied on emails highlighting your latest foul up and everyone you pass in the hall gives you that wide-eyed, head shaking, apologetic look.
- a hastily planned, last minute catered luncheon in honor of Administrative Professionals Day is met with much eye-rolling by the honorees
- a submitted two weeks notice by a fellow assistant incites joy and envy by those who will be "left behind"
- you're held up at lunch by extremely slow service that results in a comp meal and after explaining the situation in detail to the human resources director, you're told curtly that "the time cannot be adjusted" knowing full well that a few simple keystrokes would have been an easy courtesy
I've stated before, and will continue to state, that I love what I do. I thoroughly enjoy the role of assistant and really don't see myself doing anything else. However, the toxicity of my office is starting to curl its way around my neck and squeeze.
And what a shame! Once upon a time, six years ago, I embarked on what seemed to be a wonderful career at a great company that was small but growing and staffed with people who were genuinely friendly (for the most part) and seemed to care about me, as a person, not just another admin to schedule meetings and book travel. There was a level of warmth and concern that I had never experienced. At one point, a few years in, I remarked to one of my friends, "I can't even see myself looking for another job. I love it there!"
That was then. Now, I feel like a knot on a log, a log sitting halfway in some murky water in the middle of damp swamp. After multiple company reorganizations, annual retreats full of ideas that always fall flat, staff meetings that turn into lectures on appreciation for our jobs in a tough economy and a steady decline in morale across the board, this is not the same company I started with six years ago.
The announcement by a dearly loved, fellow assistant that she was taking another job in a few weeks has only added to my angst. Her new firm is huge, a global company in a high rise with all the bells and whistles of Corporate America. Great benefits, more pay that expected and perks like gym memberships and a break room stocked with free snacks and beverages (we long since lost our comp Cokes and the only free snacks are the cakes provided at the monthly birthday parties); it all makes my little log seem all the more grim.
I'd love to cast my resume out there and see what bites. I'm confident in my skills and ability to add value to any company. But, what I lack is the courage to make that great leap from my stable, albeit dysfunctional, home base. This company has been a six year supporter of my life and my children's lives. Every bill I have depends on my twice monthly paychecks. My whole life is affected in some way, by my job. Heck, I chose my apartment due to its proximity to the office, which determines my oldest daughter's school and the quality of daycare available to my youngest. I've settled into a routine, a way of survival that allows me to be in the midst of the office chaos yet somewhat insulated from it.
And who's to say that jumping ship will lead to sandy shores on a paradise beach? I could find, after a short time, that my new island is inhabited by hungry natives who don't crown me and make me their queen like in the movies. Then what? What's that old saying -- "The devil you know is better than the devil you don't."
I have recurring nightmares about winding up in the projects living off welfare checks and food stamps while my children run around with the bottoms of their feet black from filth. Seriously. Its a real nightmare. Failure of that scale is what wakes me up in the mornings.
So, that leaves me on the log, pondering possibilities and terrified of the same. I hate to sound like the spoiled ingrate who happens to have a job while so many others file into unemployment lines ready to take any job that makes an offer but this is my reality . . . and it bites!
Wednesday, May 5, 2010
- A new study published by the American Sociological Society shows that working women still do most of the housework, care-giving and are more likely than men to quit their jobs. The study showed that if husbands work more than 60 hours a week, their wives are more likely to leave their careers. [ABC News]
- Kelly Cutrone of People's Revolution and The Hills/The City fame, recently admitted that while her assistants might only make around $30,000 a year, she says they can go up to $50,000 a year, $75,000 in tow, and $150,000 in four-five years. Now that's a gig I need! [NY Mag]
- Corporate Responsibility magazine recently announced a black list of the worst companies. On the list: Abercrombie & Fitch, Scripps Networks Interactive, and Weight Watchers. [New York Times]
- Despite concerns of privacy, the Navy has decided that women are finally going to be able to serve in submarines. [Fox News]
Tuesday, May 4, 2010
Yes I may be 25-years-old and considered an "adult" but I don't think anyone is ever too old for a classic saying like that. Today is Tuesday and although I usually post on Mondays I decided to wait until today to really get it all out there. I hate liars. Sure, I discourage my students from using the word hate, but today it's really how I'm feeling.