I Want to Win!

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Are any of you contest junkies? I’m really not. But, sometimes I see a contest sponsored by a company that I really like, etc. and I feel COMPELLED to enter it, even though I’m 99.999% positive that I have absolutely no chance of winning. 

Recently, I entered a contest to win a trip to Italy with the guys from the hit MTV series, “The Buried Life.” If you’ve never seen the show, it’s completely inspirational and I highly recommend it. But, a brief overview is that there are four guys (Jonnie, Duncan, Ben, and Dave) who created a bucket list of 100 things they want to do before they die. And, every time they check something off of their bucket list, the help a stranger accomplish something that they’ve always wanted to do. The series was popular when I was in college and has since gone off the air, but the guys still continue to make dreams come true and help people.

To enter the contest, you had to write the guys a letter explaining why you should be the individual who goes with them to Italy. I’ve included a copy of my letter below. Let me know what you think!

What’s the craziest contest you’ve ever entered? Did you win?

 

Dear Jonnie, Duncan, Ben, and Dave,

By now, you’ve probably heard hundreds of thousands of reasons as to why specific individuals should go to Italy with you. And, there are hundreds of thousands of individuals who are probably more deserving than I am to join you on your trip.

However, this letter is supposed to serve the purpose of convincing you all as to why I should be the lucky fifth member in your group. So, let’s get back on track. I could select to tell you that “I love you all so much and have seen every episode of The Buried Life,” or that “I’m a Catholic and I need to see the Pope.” While those reasons are both true, I feel the need to tag along for a different reason, a better reason…

My whole life, I’ve been afraid to step outside of my comfort zone, try new things, and basically experience life. For as long as I can remember, I’ve taken the easy way, or the safe way, out. When I wanted to move out to California for college and study theatre, my father suggested I stay at a state school and study communications so that “I’d have an actual chance at getting a job” post graduation. There are even a number of “normal” foods out there that I’ve never tried because I don’t feel like breaking away from the PB&J I eat every day.

After graduating from a local college, I took a job at a corporate office where the work was meaningless, but I got paid a lot! I quickly learned that many Americans take jobs that they’re not truly happy with because of bills, the location, etc. And, I quickly began to reflect on my own life and realized that I had been having the same experiences over and over again because I was comfortable with routine and security.

Needless to say, after seven months on the job, I was let go because my boss didn’t believe that I was “committed” to the position. Now, I’m back at square one, looking for my next opportunity. And this time, I don’t want to hold back.  This time, I’m looking for a crazy adventure. And this time, I want to go after what I want and be a part of something that I really want to do!

Would you like to be the first step in helping me start my crazy life journey?

Granny Smith – over and out

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Missed Connections

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You’re probably thinking this post is going to be about a funny ad on Craigslist or a lovely dovey shoulda coulda woulda story, right? Wrong! Gotcha! This post is actually about losing the Internet connection in your house.

Long story short, last week there was a crazy storm in our neighborhood and my parent’s lost the Internet connection in their house. And, since my parents don’t believe in cable or smart phones, and don’t have AT&T or Charter, they’re left to rely on a dinky ma and pa computer place to supply their Internet. So, the next morning when we called the company to ask them what was wrong, we found out that lightening had apparently struck a service tower, and it was too windy outside for someone to safely climb up the tower to fix the problem….grrrreat.

Now, me being me, I’d like to think that the Internet doesn’t rule my life…at least not to the extent that it does some of my other friends. In fact, I’m really not a big technology person in general. Sure, I use the computer to surf the Internet and I work a bit with Word and Excel, but as a millennial, most people my age think there’s something seriously wrong with me because I don’t have a smart phone and I’ve never touched an Ipod. Do I resent technology? Not really, but I’ve seen what it can do to a person!

But, the Internet at my parent’s house was out for 3 WHOLE DAYS!! I had to resort to taking my laptop to the library to get work done, and when I came home, I tried to leave and find other activities to fill my time as soon as possible. But, even when I wasn’t in the house, I found myself thinking about how many new emails I had, or who had new updates for me on Facebook. I think that because I’m a job seeker, I’ve become more attached to my email and personal websites. I don’t want to miss a posting, and I certainly want to respond to a potential employer sooner rather than later!

Times like this make me think back to the 90s, before the Internet, instant messaging, and so on was really a big deal. It’s hard to imagine what I did during the day to fill my free time, but I think I need to start writing some ideas down in case a situation like this happens again!… Ok, even reading that last sentence made me cringe. Really? The Internet has become so important to me that I need to make a list of things to resort to in case I lose my connection? Ugh!

So, I guess one of my resolutions this year is to make certain that I pull myself away from the Internet more often every day, and not become so flustered if someone tries to get a hold of me and they can’t because I’ve lost my connection. I think that at this day and age, it’s important for all of us to leave the Internet alone when we have some free time and try to resort back to what we did pre-Internet days in order to help us all stay active. I mean, you can be connected without an Internet connection, right? It’s called talking to people!! Most of the best days that I’ve ever had in my life happened in the 90s and when I’ve been out and about doing things with people. Sure, Internet time can be a great way to wind down, but do we really need to be buried in it during our free time?

What’s your stance? How has the Internet changed your life? Am I crazy for wanting to disconnect more often?

Granny Smith – over and out

You’re Fired!

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Alright ladies and gentlemen, here’s the deal…I’ve been canned…and I’ve never been felt this confused, happy, and frustrated all at once…It kindof feels like someone just broke up with me.

Below is a description of what went down, and I hope you can learn from my mistakes…

On Monday, I was called into the CEO’s office and let go. He basically told me that I wasn’t good enough at what I was hired to do. But, “don’t worry!” he exclaimed, “you’re talented in many other areas, and this is going to be the best thing that’s ever happened to you.”

Truth be told, I love my former CEO. He’s the greatest man anyone could ask to work for. But, the company culture was a TERRIBLE fit…and I knew it was a terrible fit even before I started working there.

Here’s the deal, folks…when I interviewed for my “previous” position, I couldn’t stand the woman that was my “supervisor to be.” Rule #1: If you can’t stand them in the interview, you probably shouldn’t take the job. But I thought, what the hell? I probably won’t have to work that closely with her…Seriously, what was I thinking? Of course I’m going to have to work closely with her! She’s my SUPERVISOR!!! YOU IDIOT!!!!!!!!!!

But, I digress. I was with my previous employer for 6 months, and each week got a bit worse. I hated my boss from the start, but as time went on, I began to hate the colleague that I worked the most with. I hated the company’s processes, I didn’t really care about the work that I was doing because I hated the industry, and I hated the company’s weird rules and regulations. Rule #2: All of the issues that I just mentioned are GREAT reasons not to stick with a position…or, they’re great reasons to try and put a positive spin on your situation if you just don’t have a choice.

For me, there was no “putting a positive spin on my situation.” I came home every night miserable. I would hear the alarm go off every morning, give myself a pep talk, and then walk into the office only to be beaten down by my boss and a few of the individuals I worked closely with. Most of the time, I ended up bringing work home with me in the evenings and only pausing to have something to eat. I was getting very little sleep, and some weeks I didn’t even have enough energy to shower. The truth is, there was no turning this train around. Each week, I cared less and less and wished so badly that someone would just see that I was trying so hard and help me. I thought that asking for less work would be inconsiderate as my counterpart was already doing most of it, and it is what I was hired to do…so I kept being miserable. My boss could see my misery, I saw it, and my colleagues saw it, so it was time to go.

Am I upset that I wasn’t given more time to truly find my place within the company? Sure! But, I already hated my life so much that I decided this is probably for the best, and I need to continue my job search.

In a world where so many people are struggling to find jobs, let alone jobs that they actually like, it’s important to apply, apply, apply, but also take the time to find a position that you can really see yourself thriving in. To be perfectly honest, my position got me so wound up that I was lashing out at friends and family, quickly losing self confidence, and at times, I even thought that not waking up the next morning would be better than living.

No one should ever have to feel this way. So please!!!! Learn from me and work hard to find a position you love!

And, if you know of someone who’s hiring, feel free to pass their information my way! 😉

Granny Smith – over and out

The PTO Debate

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The end of the year is coming, and you know what that means?! Yes, ok, so the holidays are right around the corner, but you also need to schedule the rest of your paid time off!

Having recently started an adventure with a new company, I tossed and turned a bit with this issue. With so many projects going on at work, I felt like I shouldn’t be taking any time off, but, what was I supposed to do? At my place of work, if you don’t use it, you lose it. I was at a cross roads.

So, I decided to level the playing field and take a few days off in November and a few in December. This past week, I used two and a half days, and what did I end up doing?…I drilled out a few work projects.

Was I happy with my progress? Sure! But, when you use your “paid time off,” aren’t you supposed to be using it to relax, or spend time with family, go on vacation, etc.? I know that many people in my office use it for doctor’s appointments, going to the dentist, etc. because they have SO MANY days of PTO that they don’t know what else to do with themselves. On the other hand, some people that I work with end up using all of their PTO before the end of the year because they have children, and their children get sick, have dentist appointments, etc. Either way, they’ll end up working on a project, responding to emails, or doing something work related during their day, or few days, of PTO.

And, in my case, with having to use all of my PTO before the end of the year, our office constantly stresses using it “wisely” and “thinking about all of the projects we have to do” before deciding which days are the “best” for us to leave.

The truth is, there really is no “good” day to leave the office. And, sometimes you just have to use your PTO so that it’s gone. My recommendation is to NOT take a huge chunk of time off during one specific month, but to split up your days between months. But, your PTO time is also YOUR time. If your boss or coworkers want something from you, they need to reach out to you before you leave on vacation.

I recently got in trouble because I scheduled a family vacation during our office’s holiday party. But, like I said, it’s YOUR TIME. What are they going to do? They gave you X amount of days off. It’s the company’s problem if they find that too many people are taking off on specific days. And then, they’re going to try and pin it on you for taking those specific days off? PTO shouldn’t come with rules. It should be considered a gift from the company!

The more hours I work in corporate America, the more I believe that we’re all overworked and underpaid, and we’re constantly made to feel bad about the time that we want to spend with our families. Sometimes, I laugh silently to myself when I think about the unemployment rate in this country. Really? You don’t want to hire a few more people to help out with your work load? I know that I could certainly use an assistant, and I’m not even a manager, I’m on the ground floor!

And, might I mention, what the hell happened to the days where shops were closed on Sundays? What happened to Sunday being known as “family” day? Since technology has come around, it’s caused so many of us to think that work is more important, because our “world” is right at our fingertips.

In the end, our jobs and our possessions aren’t going to be there for us when we’re struggling on our death bed…it’s going to be our family and our dearest friends who will help us, and make us forget about our pain by bringing up the good times that we shared with one another. But, what if we’ve been so wrapped up in what we’re doing, that we never allotted time for the “the good times?” What do you think about that, corporate America?…

 

College Lies and Other Truths

As I’ve mentioned numerous times before in other blog posts…I’m new to this whole “being an adult” thing. And as I come across my four month anniversary in the working world…I’ve started to think about what I wish I would’ve know before entering the workforce. Now, there are many things. But, the number one thing that I wish I would’ve know is that there’s a very big difference between a “job” and a “career.” See below…

College lies to you, and internships lie to you. The real world isn’t anything like either one of them. When I was in college, I was told that maybe classes wouldn’t teach me about the real world, but that’s what internships were for. WRONG AGAIN! I had four internships while I was in college, and not one of them adequately prepared me for the shit storm called, “real life.” And let’s face it. When you’re an intern, companies don’t trust you. And that’s fair! You’re not an actual employee; you’re a temp; you’ll be gone within months. So, what do they do? They give all the “shit work” that they don’t have time to do on a regular basis.

When I had my internships, I thought I received extreme value from them. The companies that I worked for really let me “take the wheel” and provided great mentorship. But the fact of the matter is, when you’re an intern, you don’t have that “weight of the world on your shoulders” feeling like you do when you’re out in the workforce. As an intern, you step in for a bit, arrive early, do whatever they ask you to, and after a few months, you leave. So, if a problem comes up that you feel can’t be solved, you take it to your internship supervisor, and they deal with it.

And, of course, that’s not how the real world works. In the real world, the main reason your boss hired you is because they have a problem that they can’t fix, and they want YOU to solve it. So, if you’re constantly going to your boss saying “I don’t know…” they may let you go.

And that’s the unfortunate thing about internships, college students are never truly on the other side of the table. When I was at my internships, I remember thinking, Yeesh! I wouldn’t want my boss’s job. All I would ever do is worry.” I never actually experienced the kind of stress that any of them had to deal with on a regular basis.

I think that another part of the reason I never fully understood what it was like to have a “real job” before I actually got one, was because of the word, “job.”

In a lot of the career courses that you take in college, and even in regular courses, when you talk about the “job” that you’ll have after you graduate, that’s what it’s always referenced as, “a job.”  When I went to school, it was rarely referred to as a “career.” And when you hear the word “job,” what do you think of? For me, I thought: you work from 9-5, go home, eat dinner, exercise, watch some TV, go to sleep, wake up, do it again. And then the weekend would come, and you get to spend it however you wanted. You’re freer than a bird.

WRONG AGAIN! What they don’t tell you in college is that the definition that I just described is the definition of a “job.” And a job is probably a place that you won’t stay at for awhile. An example of a job is working as a cashier at a department store. When you graduate from college and start working at a “bachelor’s degree level”…you don’t have a job, you have a career. In a career, you wake up early, you arrive an hour before you’re supposed to, you work through lunch, you leave an hour after you should have, you take your work home with you, and on weekends, you’re checking your work email and working on work related projects..BIG DIFFERENCE.

When you have a career, you need to be devoted to the company that you’re working for. Kind of like when you’re in a relationship. You can’t just be in a relationship from 9-5, Monday-Friday. You’re in that relationship 24/7, 365. And this is for every higher level position that you have after college, even if you start out as an entry-level individual. You’re going to need to be there for your company like you would for your significant other.

So, after all this negative talk, what’s my advice for someone approaching their college graduation and looking for their first position?

DO NOT settle! Just don’t! Before I graduated, I was applying for anything and everything under the sun. I wanted to start working right after I finished school because I wanted money and at least some form of experience. WRONG! Don’t just take any job off of the street. So you’re unemployed for awhile, or you have to resort to picking up some hours at a department store. Take some time to really look through positions and make sure that you are going after what YOU WANT.

Take me for example. Now, I like my position, and I’m getting used to it more and more every day, but do I wish that I had calmed down after graduation and taken more time to look at other opportunities? I’ll admit it, yes. When I was interviewing for my current position, I had my final interview with my current supervisor and the head of HR. My supervisor made me feel like an idiot during the interview. Now, she was being harsh because she was testing me to make sure that I would be able to stand working in their type of environment, and under pressure; which is understandable. But after the interview was over, I ran to my car and balled like a baby. I felt like I just been slapped across the face and screamed at. And when they called me a week later and offered me the position, I was in shock. But, I accepted it anyway because all I saw were the dollar signs attached to the job description. I didn’t know what the company culture was like, and I didn’t know my benefits. All I knew was who my supervisor was going to be, a rough idea of what my duties were, and how much I was going to be making.

Looking back, I feel like a complete idiot, and since then there have been other opportunities that have popped up that I almost wish I could take advantage of. Although, on the brighter side, I am learning a whole lot, and the people that I work with are too good to be true! 

And, there are going to be ups and downs in every position. But before you accept an offer, ask about the company culture, even ask them to take you on a tour of the facilities and meet people that you’re directly going to be working with. Ask what a typical day looks like for someone in the position that you’re applying for, and ask the company what a successful candidate would look like and bring to the table. ASK TONS OF QUESTIONS and don’t be afraid of asking those questions. Because if it’s a good fit, you’ll wake up every morning satisfied and your “work” won’t feel so labor intensive.

So, to my college grads, happy job hunting!

Granny Smith- over and out

There’s Cake in the Conference Room!

It’s 8 a.m. You get to work, pour yourself a cup of coffee, think about what you need to do for the day, and then…you open your inbox…and you notice THAT email, “Sales are through the roof this month! Enjoy a cupcake in the kitchen!!” Your next thought might be one of two:

1)      Ugh!

or

2)      Yes!

As someone who is new to the working world, and who works in a larger office, during my first few weeks on the job, I was completely taken aback when I received these emails two, sometimes three, times a week.

But, over the course of my time at the company, I realized that there are two types of triggered actions that happen when someone gets one of these emails:

1) Receives email, immediately jumps up from chair, heads to kitchen
2) Receives email, shakes head, deletes email, moves on with day

As someone who is obsessed with food, I’ll admit that I’m a number one type of gal. But, I do work with a lot of individuals that are number two. At my company, most of the employees are in their 20’s, and most of the managers are in their 30s or older. And, when it comes to these emails, I’ve noticed that subordinates tend to be number ones, and their managers tend to be number twos. Now, is this because as you age your metabolism gets slower and you’re a bit more conscious of what you eat? Maybe…

But, this topic really got me thinking…In general, is it a good idea to use sweets for celebratory purposes in the workplace?

On one hand; yes. Because not everyone can afford to buy their office mates a new car every time it’s their birthday or their work anniversary, buying a cake or a few pastries seems to be the best option. At my office, I know that when people bring in desserts, they’re gone by mid-day, if not the end of the day, and the person who ends up bringing in these sweets always receives a few “thank you” emails. So, why not, right?

But on the other hand…no. With the obesity epidemic in this country, and with so many people trying their hand at a new diet every week, bringing in these treats releases that initial jolt of temptation, and your coworker’s nasty thought of, damn you, (insert name here), not again!

In conclusion, I always find that bringing in a treat is a bit of a win/lose battle. You’re going to have some people that love you for it because you’re recognizing an anniversary, achievement, or you really just love your coworkers. But, you’re going to have some people who hate it because you’re messing with everyone’s diets, and you might be thought of as “disrespectful”  or “isolating the minority” because some people might have allergies, or need to be dairy free, or gluten free, and can’t join in on the fun. Either way, there will be bad blood.

So, my suggestion: Our CEO is an extremely generous individual, and every Tuesday he orders two fresh fruit baskets for the office. The fruit is usually gone within a day or two, but everyone is very appreciative because it is a nice change from all the sweets that rotate throughout the week. For your place of work, I would recommend bringing in fruit, or, because fruit can be expensive, find a recipe for a dessert where you can substitute those calorie induced ingredients to something a little less painful. And then tell your coworkers about the substituted ingredients. I’ve found that a lot of popular magazines these days willingly provide alternative recipes to life’s biggest food temptations.

And, because I am such a big sweets eater, I usually try to stick to the rule of thumb, “one and done.” Or, if it’s something like a massive cookie that probably has 1,500 calories, break it in half, or in thirds. Never deprive yourself of a treat because you’re worried about gaining extra weight…one won’t kill you, and that’s what exercise is for!

So, good luck with those sweet temptations!

Granny Smith- over and out

Did Somebody Say, “Unlimited Vacation Days”???

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Has there ever come a time when your boss introduces a new policy and all you can think is, “Really? I’m not 12 anymore!” …Oh, for the love of micromanagement.

This past week, my company introduced a new policy that had me feeling like I was back in elementary school. Now, I’m not saying that every time a company changes a policy, adds one, drops one, or tries to evolve, that it’s a bad thing. But, sometimes, just when you think you’re finally getting the quality treatment that you, as a working adult, should receive in the workplace, you get kicked in the crotch as a reminder of how little you are.

Interestingly enough, the new, demeaning policy that’s taken place at my company reminded me of an article I read about a month ago by Ilya Pozin, CEO of Open Me, in regards to treating employees like adults by providing unlimited vacation days.

The article argues that having a company policy of unlimited vacation days is one way to improve company culture, impact employee retention, and establish employee responsibility.

Not only does Pozin explain why it’s a great idea to establish this new policy, but he gives readers a step-by-step process that they can utilize to see if this policy is right for their company, and how to implement it.

To read all about this innovative policy, click here.

Would you want your company to provide unlimited vacation days?

What do you think are the positives and negatives to this approach?

Granny Smith- over and out