So today we are traveling as our kids are off school for the week. We’re on a very-early-in-the-college-search visit to the University of Texas at Austin. It’s been a long day so we are all taking a little quiet time in the hotel before we head out and find some authentic, local barbecue for dinner. We’ve never been here so we’re looking forward to a fun night.
As I’m catching up on emails, I’m listening to my husband on the phone discussing some issue going on with something with PTO at their company. I’m not really listening, to be honest, but I can tell they are working through some kind of situation and I’m confident they’ll have a solid solution in place to whatever this is (again, blah blah blah, not really listening to the details over there). But it reminds me why I work the way I do and not in some huge company with a bunch of rules.
When I first started this business, I had been on the lookout for a way to be my own boss, work from home and – most importantly – be mom. I brought these two children into the world and have been hell-bent on raising them to be strong, independent people, capable of going out into the world and handling themselves without me. I’m not doing it alone, of course. My husband is a great support and (though few believe this) the fun parent. We still have four grandparents for our kids and feel very fortunate for that. And, of course, our village of friends, family, community and our awesome school are all part what makes raising these humans fun and really, not so hard.
But it wasn’t in me to go work in an office, be beholden to someone else’s hours, policies and rules. Been there, done that. In my former career, I was a meeting, convention and trade show planner. I loved it. It was a great career when I was just out of college, especially at the first two jobs I held in Chicago. Then I lived in New York and I worked for an international trade association and it was, quite literally, the worst job ever. Here are a few reasons why:
- Everyone – I mean everyone – in our department was looking for a new job;
- We once had to have a two-hour department meeting as to whether or not capri pants (which were very much in style in the early 2000s) were appropriate for work. TWO HOURS! Seems like if we had time for that we didn’t have enough to do;
- There was a woman whose sole job it was to pick up copy I wrote for a marketing brochure from my cubicle and walk it to the other side of the building to the person who would be finishing the layout. Seemed like a redundant, unnecessary position – and, yes, email did exist at the time;
- There was another woman who would sit at the welcome desk and “clock” us in and out when we arrived and departed for the day. Fine, but #1 this was post 9/11 so I was late getting to work for an extended period of time because of the number of funerals headed down Fifth Avenue for what seemed like months on end and #2 they never clocked you in and out for leaving midday. So if I got there on time, but I left in the middle of the day to work out, shower, go shopping, grab lunch and then come back a few hours later (yes, I did all fo this) no one cared. Seems ridiculous;
- Then there were Fridays. I was once late to work because our building was at Rockefeller Center and every Friday in the summer were those outdoor concerts at the Today Show. So one time I was late because I was 10 feet from Sting and who would just walk away from that? When my boss said “I don’t understand why you’re eight minutes late,” my response was “I don’t understand what you don’t understand. I was 10 feet. From Sting.”;
- And finally, there was the actual job. My boss, her name was Judy, would give me a pile of things to do on Monday morning and would alway say, “as long as you can get this done by the end of the week, we’ll be in good shape.” Typically, I was finished with that task list by lunch on Monday. So no wonder I was in no hurry to get to work, I took off three hours in the middle of the day and, like so many others, was always looking for a new job. By the way, I did get a new job after not too much time so this awfulness didn’t last all that long.
Which brings me back to policies and rules and bureaucracy. Nope. Not for me. That’s why I run the company the way I do – virtually. I love that we work on different teams and that we juggle so many clients and voices. I know full-well that everyone has something else going on in their life, but I love that when we come together, we are genuinely a great team. I love that the rules are fluid, that as long as we are coming through for the client, staying on deadline and within budget, all that other junk just doesn’t matter.
My husband, on the other hand, loves dealing with these kinds of details and so I’m happy for him that he’s found a good fit for his career. It’s true what they say – opposites attract.
Sure, there are challenges here too but let’s focus on the positive, shall we? That’s how I’m heading into the week. I hope you are too!