Thursday, September 05, 2013

Work That’s Paid Or Work That’s Interesting?

"Let the flood come and clean up the debris as it smacks you in the head." Sandy left us untouched. Our neighborhood had zero damage. In fact, we almost felt guilty nothing happened to us. To the point where we furiously donated canned goods, cleaned up the park and offered whatever help we could. Poor city. What a tragedy. Looking back, though, something did happen. Right before the storm, we had hit a low point. Emotionally, financially, professionally, you name it. And we thought all hope was lost. But then the storm came. And the storm went. And by the time the water receded, both of us miraculously had new jobs, new attitudes, new friends and an overwhelming sense that everything was going to be okay. As if the water had washed away that season of our lives and completely renewed us. Don't you just love nature's agenda? Floods, after all, are devices that start the world over again. They’re a sort of baptism for the planet. They reincarnate new life. Let the city crumble.

"Generosity does not have to be financial to be memorable and important." Gift giving is my love language. My theory is, if it takes less than fifteen minutes or cost less than fifteen dollars, it’s worth it. There’s just something about that small, thoughtful, creative, unexpected gift that lights people up, makes them feel seen and lives in their memories forever. When my grandpa underwent shoulder surgery, I stopped by the costume shop and bought him a severed arm to scare the nurses in the hospital. When we hired a new designer from Florida, I picked up a bottle of fresh squeezed orange juice and left it on his desk. That's how easy generosity is. Take a moment, make a memory. Just a few minutes, just a few bucks. The resulting gift is the single drop of epoxy that keeps our relationships glued over time. Inspired by The Prosperous Heart.

"Put a structure in place that tips the odds heavily in your favor." It’s all in the approach. That seems to be the answer to most of life’s strategic questions. Whether it’s sales, physics, design, dating or marketing, how is just as important as what. I remember when I went looking for a job for the first time. Something told me I needed more than just a resume, I needed a plan. A differentiator. A side road. Otherwise I’d tumble down the employment rabbit hole of interviews and callbacks, forever imprisoned by the tyranny of being picked. And then one day it hit me. Why bloody my knuckles on a door that wasn't going to open, when I could strategically jam a wedge of generosity into the frame? Instead of waiting around to get called back for an interview, I reversed the process. I found fifty companies I wanted to work for and started interviewing them. Then I posted the transcripts on my blog. Then I promoted the hell out of them. Then I stopped by their offices in person. Then I gave them a copy of my book as a thank you. And when the time came to ask for a job, all I had to do was go where the door was already open and walk right in. What's a resume?

"Choosing between work that’s paid and work that’s interesting." I used to think meetings were the bane of my existence. They’re boring, wasteful, pointless and soul sucking, I’d complain. But then I had an epiphany. I realized just because you go to a meeting, doesn’t mean you can’t create meaning. And since I do so by creating and relating and working and contributing, I stopped whining and started writing. Now, meetings have become opportunities to take copious notes of all the insights people don't realize they have, print out copies for everyone when our time is up, physically deliver people’s words back to them and sit back and watch their face change shape. That’s enough meaning to hold me over. That’s how I reconcile sitting in a room for two hours. We do what we have to do to make it okay for ourselves. Meaning is made, not found.