January 22, 2008

Subtle Joys of Self Employment

I started looking for opportunities in self-employment almost twenty years ago, roughly two days after starting at my first job. I am a free spirit with an over-active imagination, so finding something that didn’t become boring was always my greatest challenge. No MLM or sales position was left unturned. I invested countless hours into envelope stuffing as a teenager producing only one reply, sold beauty products door-to-door and found out that what I really sold was about 200 catalogs to myself. I originated Mortgages, contracted as an Office Manager and was as a Unit Manager for a popular plastics line. Perhaps what I was craving all along was simply freedom.

Most people that run their own business will undoubtedly tell anyone who listens, that freedom is the key reason to be self-employed. They will boast that being your own boss is the greatest feeling and that setting your own hours makes everything worthwhile. In my estimation that is all just a bunch of hooey and I would like to share the reasons why I personally would never go back to corporate America now that I have had the taste of life on the other side.

Pee on the community toilet seat. I once worked in a building which was also home to two clinics: an eye center and a cardiologist. My office was on the same floor as the eye clinic, whose patients were primarily over 75. The fact of nature is that as a person gets older their bodily functions do not cooperate as well as when they were young. Throw blinding eye drops into the mix and ironically the picture becomes clear. One day our Department was told that our office would be moving. I thought for sure it would now be safe to sit since the elderly ladies with eye drops would be no more and the only users of the bathroom would be fellow office mates. Not more than a week after our arrival to the new space is when I realized that a person doesn’t have to be older and blind to pee on the seat but they actually have to be human to clean it up.

Boredom. In the world of ties and pantyhose most people will do anything just to hang onto their job. With rising mortgage rates and falling house prices, not to mention so many layoffs, there is a panic that sets in among worker bees that if they are not constantly busy they too will be downsized. I would like to point out that no matter how hard a person tries to hide it, there is no way to disguise the glassy eyes that could have only occurred from playing three straight hours of spider solitaire after taking a two hour lunch paid for by the company. Add to that sneaking out of the office a half hour early and it is basically the makings of a typical day at my last company. I try to recall even one detail of something I did at that job to garner such a huge salary but all I come up with is a 4.0 GPA in school and a journal where I jotted down quips about how I must have been working what the Sopranos refer to as a “no show” job, even though I was there. There were many days I felt like Peter Gibbons.

Talking for the sake of hearing one’s own voice. Idle chatter about nothing in elevators and inane questions with no logical answer are two great examples of this. One good one I always got was “How are we doing today?” Did I miss something? Was I sharing my desk with someone else? How can one person be a “we”? Was my co-worker referring to me and the inner dialogue that is constantly running in my head? That response would go a little something like “Look I’m having a really busy day today you see my eBay auction is coming down to the wire, I have so much schoolwork to do and I’m just so bogged down with all the smoke breaks I plan to take later so I don’t feel as if I can fit your ridiculous questions into my already jam packed schedule.” Although that one is good, my all time favorite office question was “How was your weekend?” I knew no one would ever want to hear my true response which goes a little something like “It was fantastic because I didn’t have to see you people and I got to spend all the money I made here last week which is pretty much the only reason I am back today.” It was a good thing I always brought a journal to work so I could write down what was in my head otherwise I would have taken up roof archery years ago.

January 10, 2008

Things That Make Me Say Hell Yeah!

First and foremost right now is my job. I love my job and I am finally starting to do it. Recently I was hired to finish a family room, this week I am working on a kitchen, and it looks as though things are starting to pick up more so after that as well. The family room was a wonderful light color wash over a deep blue base and everyone (including the homeowners) was a little scared to see that initial color go on the wall. Not me though. I kept saying ‘trust the skills’ and everyone stepped back to let me do my thing. The homeowner called me two days later to say how they both loved it so much now that everything was back in the space. I don’t have an official final photo yet but here is the gist of the finish.

This email is something that made me smile and laugh this morning so I really wanted to share it.

A man in Topeka, Kansas decided to write a book about Churches around the country. He started by flying to San Francisco and started working east from there.

Going to a very large church, he began taking photographs and making notes. He spotted a golden telephone on the vestibule wall and was intrigued with a sign, which read

'Calls: $10,000 a minute.'

Seeking out the pastor he asked about the phone and the sign. The pastor answered that this golden phone is, in fact, a direct line to heaven and if he pays the price he can talk directly to God. The man thanked the pastor and continued on his way.

As he continued to visit churches in Seattle, Dallas, St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, and around the United States, he found more phones, with the same sign, and the same answer from each pastor.

Finally, he arrived in Massachusetts. Upon entering a church in Boston, MA, behold - he saw the usual golden telephone. But THIS time, the sign read

'Calls: 35 cents.'

Fascinated, he asked to talk to the pastor, 'Reverend, I have been in cities all across the country and in each church I have found this golden telephone and have been told it is a direct line to Heaven and that I could talk to God, but in the other churches the cost was $10,000 a minute. Your sign reads only 35 cents a call. Why? Why?'

The pastor, smiling benignly, replied 'Son, you're in Boston, Massachusetts now, home of the Boston Red Sox, the Patriots, Celtics, Bruins and Boston College! '

You're in God's Country, It's a local call.

Learning to play the drums, sort of. I am working on that kitchen this week and because the home is that of my best friend’s Mom we are spending a lot of time hanging with S & B. They are gamers, specifically Xbox, and have introduced us to all kinds of entertaining game play over the years. None of those games ever made me want to purchase a video gaming system until now. Their latest purchase was Rock Band. You build a band that initially has no money and no prayer of ever making it big and after a few days of singing and playing along to some seriously crazy rock tunes at gigs all over the country the money and fans begin to flow in. The game comes with a mic, guitar and drum kit. B is typically the singer, although Matt gives him a run for his money now when he isn’t on bass, S plays guitar and I have decided to follow my life long dream of learning to play the drums. All of them admitted that the drums are the toughest to play because the timing needs to be just right but after a handful of tries I was scoring an 80% on ‘Say It Ain’t So’ by Weezer. I am hooked and have the blister on my right hand ring finger to prove it. I generally don’t make resolutions so let’s just call this a goal for 2008 – I am going to finally take drum lessons which is something I have wanted to do since about age nine.

The last thing that really makes me scream hell yeah is the power of positive thinking. For the past three months I have been working to build a business and decided that there is no need to worry about it working out even though money is a little tight and I am doing all of this on faith; all of the seemingly random directions my life has taken to get me to this point, the skills learned, my ability to be organized and my positive outlook will provide more than enough for our little family to survive. You know something, it is working and I am not afraid of it nor am I going to walk away from it like I have managed to do so many times in the past. This is exactly where I am meant to be and it feels great.