When I was ruminating on whether or not to go back to work after two years of absolute freedom, my friends all thought I was crazy.
“What if your boss is a micromanager who makes your life a living hell?” questioned an ex-coworker.
“What’s the point of saving and sacrificing for so long if you’re just going to jump right back in the fire?” wondered an online buddy.
I told them I was getting bored. As a writer, every experience, good or bad, has the potential to be a treasure trove of good material. Writing is so much easier when you’re emotionally charged up.
I’ve had a compliance woman throw me under the bus during a group meeting and a guy promise me one thing and do something totally different. It’s been awesome! I truly love the pain because pain makes everything else feel so much more pleasurable.
When you have a lot of freedom, you start taking your freedom for granted. Going back to work to be a “yes man” is a great way of keeping the appreciation of freedom alive. This post offers a simple way to make people happy all the time. If you’re someone who fears getting laid off, this one is also for you.
YES SIR! YES MA’AM!
Writing is a very individualistic endeavor. Ask five writers to write about a narrow subject like “how to tie your shoes” and you’re likely to get five very different results. One of the keys to being a good editor is to not inhibit the writer’s creativity, while offering constructive
After one year of creative freedom as a consultant with a certain company, the graphics department gave me a ridiculous 8-point guideline on what pictures to use with my posts. It had already been hard enough to choose pictures in a 2:1 aspect ratio (really wide and short) vs. the normal 3:2 aspect ratio format. Now they were adding additional hoops to jump through in order to pass quality control.
After the two pictures I selected for a post were rejected, I was frustrated. These were my choices that in my opinion matched with what I had written. Who knows better than the writer himself what matches and what doesn’t?
It was as if the tail was wagging the dog where the picture was more important than the actual content. If I managed an art or photography blog, the images would be most important. But I was managing a site where written content is King.
Instead of complaining, I came up with a solution. Have the creators of the 8-page picture guideline create a repository from which any picture may be chosen. In this way, writers would no longer waste time finding the perfect picture, only to have it rejected by the picture police. Brilliant!
I could have objected to their objections about my picture selection because it suppressed my creativity and dampened my motivation. Instead, I said, “Happy to accommodate.” What I did was a little jujitsu. To make them happy, I put the onus back on them.
But guess what happened to this amazing suggestion? They never created the picture repository. As a result, they could no longer nitpick about the pictures we selected. Months later, the creator of the picture bible quit. Classic.
Lesson #1: Always accommodate a request no matter how dumb. Even if the person has no experience with what she is asking you to do, just tell her “yes ma’am.” When it becomes apparent what she is asking is unreasonable, simply ask her to provide you examples of her work to mimic. If she is a fraud, then she won’t be able to come up with anything, and will therefore leave you alone. Your goal is to smoke out people who only tell people what to do, but don’t know how to do it themselves.
CREATE MORE HAPPINESS
When you are an employee, you are expendable. Always remember this. You can be thrown to the streets with the next bin of shredded documents at any time. An employee must know his or her place. The more you need the money, the more you must be respectful to everyone.
As a masochist who likes money, I find working for a company as a consultant to be extremely exhilarating. While it’s great to be the boss of my online media company, there’s something magical about being relieved of responsibility and just doing what you’re told to do.
During my tenure at another company where I was in charge of managing and writing content, I was told a new full-time person was to assume the Head of Content role. As a consultant, I didn’t care too much and was looking forward to working with this new hire in order to learn new writing and content marketing techniques.
It turned out the new hire had practically zero experience writing any content! I couldn’t find one single publication of his on the web. He didn’t even have his own website. Further, he had no idea about online content marketing because that wasn’t part of his role at his previous firm.
As a creative, I tried my best to say “yes sir,” but I couldn’t hide my lack of respect for someone in charge of content who had never written content. It would be one thing if he had been the editor at an online media company like Business Insider or The Wall Street Journal, but he wasn’t.
Because I could no longer fake my enthusiasm, I offered to resign. And that’s when things got interesting. The Head of Content person started to panic.
We had emergency meetings with the CMO and CEO about how we could better work together. But I wanted none of it because I knew my value to the company as its content creator, editor, and manager of a team of writers. If management hired this person for big bucks above me, then they should try to get their money’s worth from him.
When you are financially independent, you have no problem voting with your feet by leaving. At any rate, we worked something out, so I stayed on for a little bit longer. Two months after joining, the new Head of Content was fired. Finally, management saw through the smoke screen.
Lesson #2: Know your worth and don’t be afraid to move on if you feel under-appreciated. Management will realize who are the producers and who are the dead weight. You will make your bosses happy by making them realize your value.
DO AS YOU’RE TOLD AND LIKE IT
The key to making everyone happy is to do as you’re told. Whether that person has the relevant experience to tell you what to do is besides the point. This is where so many people get in trouble because they don’t respect authority. Even if you are older and have more experience, suck it up if you need the money!
The goal of this post is to make other people happy, not you. After a while, always doing what you are told will probably make you pissed off and miserable. But because you make other people happy, other people will start liking you. When other people start liking you, you will get paid and promoted and eventually get to come out of your shell and play.
My biggest weakness as an ex-employee is not being able to fake my feelings well enough to create a massive support network. If I did, I would have probably made Managing Director at my old firm by age 35. If I don’t believe in something, I will butt heads. This is a career limiting move.
If you just can’t stand bowing to other people’s demands you don’t respect, then your only two choices are to negotiate a severance and find another job or be your own boss. Staying at a job with people who don’t inspire you will suck your soul dry.
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