Do the Right Thing at Work Without Everyone Hating You

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SHOW DATE: JUNE 4, 2014

There’s an age old problem that plagues us incessantly at the workplace: do I do the right thing, or the popular thing?

Say the popular co-worker who’s always coming in twenty minutes late, and you’re covering for him, or his co-workers are covering for him.

He’s a decent guy, a family man, and you don’t want to hurt him or his career. But it’s starting to affect the team and the office morale.

Do you report him or do you keep him safe from scrutiny?

Speaking to him may not work. He might say, “Yeah, sure, I’ll come in on time,” without it ever coming to fruition. And if you ask again, you’ll become that annoying co-worker who’s always nitpicking.

The question to any problem you have in the work place is, is it more practical to say something, or put your head down?

It’s painful to be the hall monitor blowing her whistle. You’re not getting promoted for it, and if you are, you’re going to be the supervisor or boss nobody respects.

Auntie Evan and Uncle David have two divergent opinions:

Uncle David: In this economy, you have to put your head down when you see your company is heading in a bad direction or someone is causing a problem. Don’t be the moral police, or you won’t get anywhere.

Auntie Evan: UD, if that’s how you feel, if you can’t step up, then you’re not really there for your company. Then you’re the small individual who only looks after himself and his paycheck.

When it comes down to brass tacks, do you need to be popular or liked to get ahead, or do the right thing and open your mouth?

AE: When things are not going well, you can’t just put your head down and hope nobody notices. It doesn’t matter what company you’re at, when you’re hurting the product because you’re keeping your mouth shut, it never works out for anybody in the end.

UD: But remember when you worked at that organization, and the new, younger program lead got hired and made a bunch of mistakes, and you called her out and were shunned for it? Only when you left the job and they saw all the mistakes go down did they call you up again.

So how do keep the company your number one priority when calling someone out, and at the same time avoiding looking like the hall monitor everyone wants to jam into a locker? Here are Auntie Evan’s foolproof steps to doing the right thing while still saving face:

1) Carefully document when the co-worker(s) makes a glaring mistake that affects the team and the company as a whole. Write down the date and time, and what was done. As objectively as possible (not, “At 4pm on Tuesday the bitch didn’t wash her coffee mug.”).

2) More importantly, take to heart that you’re doing this because you want the company to be great, because you want the country to be great. If you play the “what’s in it for me” game, you’re going to crash.

3) Don’t make it look like you’re trying to cover your own ass. If you get somewhere early, and all you can do is gloat how you’re the only one on time, you’re doing it wrong. It’s about thinking, “how can I get everybody in on time.” Put the organization, the community, before anything.

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The Harsh Truth About Your “Dream” Job

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SHOW DATE: MAY 21, 2014

We were inspired by an article we read recently in The New York Times by Gordon Marino, “A Life Beyond ‘Do What You Love’.”

In a nutshell, it discussed the culture shift that has been taking place for the past 20-30 years that created this mentality that you’re a failure or sellout if you’re not following your passions into your professional life.

Example: if you love music, and you were applauded as a child for your musical abilities, you are a failure if you’re not a rockstar, or a sound engineer, or working in digital rights marketing.

We want to blow up this destructive paradigm.

You’re destroying your happiness and your power at work because you’re stuck in this mindset that you’ve failed at life if you aren’t working as a poet, or musician, or writer, or lawyer, or whatever you’ve been applauded for as a kid.

But it’s not all black and white. We understand.

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There’s not a day that goes by where Auntie Evan, whether helping kids get into college as a private guidance counselor or talking smack on the radio, where he doesn’t feel that his current position is maybe an excuse for not becoming the performer he always wanted to be.

It took Auntie Evan many years to get past the “I’m not going to be a famous writer, performer, director” phase. Just the other day, Auntie Evan was in Florida visiting his mom and her friends. One of them went up to him and said, “I always thought you were going to be a famous actor.” She didn’t mean to be hurtful, but ouch.

If you feel this way about your job, we’ve got news for you: you can’t get more money, and you certainly can’t get a promotion if you’re the miserable person who wears her ”failure” on her sleeve.

Would your boss really trust you if he knew that every day you were itching to get out of work and take that audition, or finish that certification?

Good news. We can help you get out of this destructive mentality.

Shift your thoughts from performing for yourself and those around you and start focusing on fulfillment. What fulfills you? What is your true calling? It might surprise you, but this might be something you haven’t paid much attention to because you were wrapped up in performing for others, or what others told you you were good at.

You still have that childhood idea of fulfillment and it’s killing you.

If you’re latched on to that one thing that fulfills you, you’re missing the point. There are many things in life that can be fulfilling.

First, make a list of what you can and cannot live without. Next, pinpoint what fulfills you in your current job, whether it’s creating things, security, money, leading, making an impact or working with your hands.

Consider the possibility that an auto mechanic who loves working with his hands and who has a shop two blocks away from his family can be more fulfilled than a starving ex-optometrist musician doing free gigs at the back of a Chuck-E-Cheese. Just consider it.

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When Taking Initiative Bites You in the ***

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SHOW DATE: MAY 7, 2014

We were watching the news about Obama’s recent jump on the climate change awareness wagon. The real kicker? Environmentalists are still not pleased.

Yep, Obama got slapped on the wrist by the same people who were supposed to be his allies. He also got slapped by those who weren’t behind the issue, but we all knew that was coming.

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We can totally relate.

Job Talk Daily always rants and raves about taking initiative at all times. And that makes sense: if you want to be a leader, if you want to get promoted, you need to take initiative. Plain and simple. But sometimes taking initiative can bite you in the ass.

This can happen just as easily at home as on the job. Uncle David, who has a chronic habit on putting aside household chores, recently decided to take initiative. Instead of passing by a carton of spoiled milk like he usually would, he threw it away and told Auntie Evan about his accomplishment. Auntie Evan, of course, was infuriated. The milk was about to be returned to the store in exchange for cash.

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While this example of initiative is on a microcosmic scale, this happens all the time in the work environment.

We’re here you take through initiative the right way. If you’re going to put your foot forward, keep these precautions in mind:

1) Don’t feel like you’re doing someone a favor. You’re not going to get a pat on the back. Just doing something and thinking you’ll get rewarded for it is a dangerous mentality and can do more harm than good. You’re not doing a chore for your mom, you’re being a leader.

2) Always ask the questions you need to ask, don’t make surprises. Initiative and surprise should be mutually exclusive in your vocabulary. Start off by telling people the plan. At least then they have a chance to give you feedback. Part of taking initiative is preparing people for this great change you’re undertaking.

3) Taking initiative may not always come through. You have to be willing to dust yourself off and start over. At the end of the day, you’re taking a gamble. (But you’re taking less of a gamble if you ask questions first.)

Initiative is not ambush. Because that’s what it feels like when you come out of nowhere with unapproved changes. Let the other party participate in the transformation. Being a lone wolf, and saying “look at me, look what I did” makes you look like a brown noser, not a job hero.

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Stop Complaining About Your Job – You’re Not Selling Tangerines in China

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I’ve been traipsing through Asia over the past month—it’s one of those hybrid trips; a little work, a little play, a lot of airports, security checks, and death-defying taxi rides. For a hybrid trip, it turned out to be a lot more work than I expected. As much as I love meeting potential new clients and creating new business opportunities abroad—I have to say, holding yet another meeting while Beijing’s Forbidden City beckons through the window, unexplored, just sucks. Sometimes, I just hate being on the job.

After two weeks of more work, less play, Uncle David and I made to Yangshuo—a tourist town just south of Guilin, China, where the Li and Yulong Rivers meet.

Arriving in Yangshuo wasn’t as relaxing as we’d hoped. The “Shangri-La” hotel that Uncle David booked turned out to be Shangri-Less-Than-We-Could-Tolerate. This beaten-down hostel with no Wifi would have been charming, even adventurous with its breathtaking view of Yangzhou’s karsts mountains and jade green rice paddies (water buffalo included). But I’m not 25. This began our search for a new hotel as the sun set and the brownout flickered.

Two hours later, I finally found myself sitting in the Imperial Suite in the center of Yangshuo. Trust me, this isn’t as glamorous as it sounds. I didn’t feel like an Empress, I felt bedraggled, cheated, beaten-down, and angry at my life.

Then David pulled the curtain back in our air conditioned room to view the hopping nightlife on West Street—and there she was. A 60-year-old woman sitting by herself selling tangerines on a tourist-trap street at 10pm. She was bored out of her mind. Dozens of tourists walked past her without so much as a glance in. Still, she never stopped working. At her feet were two stacks of red plastic take-away bags. To the left, they were crunched up; to the right, they were expertly folded. I watched her carefully and neatly take a minute to fold each as if she were handling an Hermes scarf. She was clearly creating busywork to occupy her mind. Or was it pride of ownership? Whatever it was, anger wasn’t part of it.

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I watched her on and off until midnight, and I couldn’t take it anymore: Out of respect for her diligence and commitment—not to mention my own OCD appreciation for her folding skills—I ran downstairs, and purchased more tangerines than I could eat in a week. I think I spent about 12 yuan, or $2.

The next night, threading my way through a packed pedestrian street, I saw another woman. She was selling assorted fruit—bananas, oranges, passion fruit—on a woven-bamboo plate. People were pressing past her, annoyed, like she was the car clogging the expressway. But the way she kept the fruit neatly organized on that plate every time someone jostled it struck me again: pride of ownership. I will never know if she loves or hates her life, but one thing was obvious: nothing stopped her, she wasn’t complaining, she was doing her job the best she could. I bought another bundle of fruit I’d never finish.

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The next day, Uncle David and I trekked 800 steps (that felt like 8000) up to the scenic vista called Moon Hill. We’re not in bad shape, but by the time we could get to the top, I was so sweaty and bedraggled I refused to let Uncle David memorialize the climb on his camera. The view was amazing, but my eye went straight for an elderly woman hunched protectively over a Styrofoam cooler filled with cold water bottles and Coca-Cola. I don’t know if I’ve met a happier person in China or anywhere. After I bought a bottle, she shoved a tattered journal into my hand and grinned ear to ear (bless all four of her teeth). The journal was full of notes and blessings from travelers worldwide. “Never thought I’d climb a mountain and find a 70-year-old woman at the top selling water!” said one, dated several years earlier. “Zheng climbs these 800 steps every day! God bless her.”

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I admit—I’m a job complainer. Nobody thanks me enough, nobody appreciates me enough, I don’t get paid enough, I work too hard, my colleagues don’t understand, my mother doesn’t respect what I do…this is just the beginning of my list.

So, encountering these three women blew my mind. I can’t begin to compare what they go through on a daily basis to the ease, support, compensation, and appreciation I receive just for making it to work on a Monday. Not to mention the break I get most nights and weekends. Or the simple fact that I could consider taking a week off in Yangshuo between business trips in Beijing and Shanghai with my husband.

The change was immediate: stop complaining! Sometimes the wifi won’t work. Sometimes things suck. Sometimes you have to do things you don’t want—in work and in life. I wanted to scratch my own eyes out the next day when Uncle David, beaming with childlike excitement, grabbed my hand and said, “Let’s go to the Chinese Nibble Fish Spa!” Nothing sounded worse to me in that moment than dunking my feet into a nasty aquarium (who knows how many people had been there that day) and let freaky frenzied fish nibble the dead skin from the soles of my feet. I could feel the complaints start to bubble up. I knew the drill: I would agree to go with David and do whatever stupid thing he was excited about today, and then complain the entire time. Misery loves company, and I can sometimes be a bit aggressive making sure those around me are as miserable as I am. But why do that to Uncle David? Why ruin it for him? In fact, why ruin it for myself?

That’s when I realized that the decision to have fun or be miserable was all in my head. I white-knuckled it, stuck my feet in the water, and turned around my whole attitude. I ended up having a great time and very soft feet.

We’re still in Yangshuo, and one of the clients we’ll be meeting next week in Shanghai just wrote and asked us to meet him at his favorite bagel restaurant—about an hour out of our way. Oh God. That was the last thing I wanted to do. Didn’t he understand that I didn’t know the Shanghai subway system and would probably get lost? Did he really think that a New Yorker who regularly eats the best bagels in the world would care about some knockoff Shanghai version? Or was this all an ego trip, to see how far out of my way I’d go to get his business?

Wow—I hadn’t even left China and I’d already forgotten the lesson of the three Chinese vendors. I’d forgotten how much fun I ended up having with the nibble fish. So I decided to change my iPhone screensaver to Zheng up on Moon Hill. Now I’m reminded of how to live a complaint-free life every time my phone rings.

I get that your life sucks sometimes. Like me, you are certain that no one respects your work and you’re annoyed that your family wants to go to Six Flags, when all you want to do is kick back. It’s so easy to complain, so easy to ruin the moment. So enjoy the three pictures I posted here. Put one up on your monitor at work. Put another up on your bathroom mirror. Put the final one in your wallet—and next time your spouse is excited to do something you aren’t, or your boss wants you to work overtime, or your mom complains you don’t call her enough—just look at one of these pictures. Remember what an amazing life you have. Be thankful, take pride of ownership—because only you own your life, and only you can sell yourself out to complaints, anger, and regret.

–Auntie Evan

Want to get Noticed at Work? Here’s the Easy Way

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SHOW DATE: MARCH 12, 2014

Take care of the little things in the office that nobody ever notices. That extra initiative is going to get you recognized and promoted.

Change the batteries in the smoke detector; change the clocks during daylight savings; do the things no other employee figures is “worthy enough” to get a promotion.

You do this at home and at work, you’re going to get noticed.

Hire of the Week: Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford

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What does it mean to get your hands dirty for your job?

Take congressman Hartford as an example. He worked a day as a UPS worker to get a feel for the average laborer.

Yes, we know a (sizable) motivation behind the stint was to get favorable press coverage. But now Hartford actually has substance behind his representation: he’s experienced minimum wage work while most other politicians haven’t.

The same goes for a sales rep. Trying out your client’s job–called “shadowing”–gives your pitch real substance. After all, you’ve done what they’ve done, so you must know what’s best for them.

 

 

 

5 Questions You Should Never Ask Your Gay Co-Worker

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SHOW DATE: FEBRUARY 12, 2014

NFL prospect Michael Sam may be the first football player to come into the league openly gay. This ties in nicely with our theme these week: coming out of the closet at work.

Why is it so important to come out at work?

Who you are is integrated into who you love and who you spend time with outside of work. So many people say it’s not relevant whether you’re gay or not at work, but the truth is, keeping your status under the radar impedes your workflow.

It’s a constant distraction, the whole tiptoeing around the issue, the avoidance of the subject. “Is he or isn’t he” and “is she or isn’t she” and “can I talk about my same sex partner or not.”

Distraction on both ends only decreases productivity and keeps everyone from doing their best. Meaning, less chances at a promotion and poorer overall company performance.

The worry with Michael Sam is that any team that takes him will suffer the consequence of a media shitstorm. The supposed conversation is going to go something like: “Congrats, [star quarterback], how does it feel to win? Oh, and by the way, how does it feel to have a gay teammate?”

It’s going to dominate conversations, and any team that takes him on will take on his load of baggage.

At least, that’s one side of the argument. But who doesn’t bring baggage to the workplace? Who among us doesn’t have something that’s twisting us up inside?

Donte Stallworth, a retired NFL receiver, said some wise words on the subject: if, as a coach or player, you’re distracted by the fact that there is someone gay on the team, it’s over for you. The fact that you’re not good enough on the field as to be sidetracked by media scrutiny says something about your skill as a player.

It’s the same on the job. When the new gay employee comes into work and you start obsessing over the fact that they’re gay, you’ve already lost. You’re stuck in the last century, and your workflow suffers.

You want to be the amazing leader pulling people into the 21st century.

If you’re gay and afraid of coming out of the closet, a good majority of the time (we’re going to say 90%), you’re exaggerating the reactions you’re going to get. In fact, telling your boss before you’re even officially hired is ideal, rather than waiting to “prove yourself” in a straight light before coming out.

The sooner you can breathe easier, the sooner you can start working more productively.

And for those in the presence of a gay co-worker for the first time, here are five things you should never say to them after they come out (thanks to DiversityInc for the ideas):

1)  Oh, I knew you were gay!

2)  We’re not close enough for you to share that information with me.

3)  Are you the guy or the girl in bed?

4)  Has life has been difficult?

5)  Which bathroom do you use?

DON’T LOSE YOUR SUPERPOWER: RETAIN WHAT GOT YOU PROMOTED

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SHOW DATE: FEBRUARY 5, 2014

We’re giving a shout out to Peyton Manning today—who was absolutely pounced by the press the Monday after the Superbowl.

On Tuesday, everything turned around. Manning is known for being a big picture guy, a steady rock of leadership that provides the team’s stability and security.

As we watched him on Tuesday getting piled on by the media, Manning stayed true to himself and said he was not embarrassed by the defeat.

“We played a great team, we needed to play really well in order to win, and we didn’t come anywhere close to that.”

Our point today is, stay true to yourself and find your real source of empowerment. Your superpower, if you will. Manning didn’t lose himself by wallowing about a “destroyed” legacy because he stayed true to his level-headedness.

If you get promoted because of your exceptional micro-managing skills, don’t feel that you have to all of a sudden give that up for being a visionary who only thinks long-term.

That superpower that makes you what you really are—you have to use it or you’re going to lose it. You don’t have to become someone else entirely when you get promoted.

Utilize your superpower.

But how do you get yourself back on track if you’ve suddenly become derailed by ditching what made you rise in the first place? Here’s our three simple tips to avoid stagnation and get you back on your path:

1) The first step is just being open to yourself. If you’re deviating from your strengths, admit it and stop resisting the fact that you need to realign yourself.

2) Understand what superpowers are around you. If you’re misaligned yourself, you might take it out on your co-workers. Recognize their strengths and make sure you don’t look past their superpowers as well—otherwise you’re limiting the entire office.

3) When you get promoted because of your superpower, you need to learn to adapt it to this new position of authority. If you’re a relationship builder and you get shoved into a higher-paid position with your own office, don’t hole yourself up in thr room; continue doing what got you there in the first place.

WAITING TABLES ON YOUR PATH TO SUCCESS

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SHOW DATE: JANUARY 29, 2014

The president discussed raising the minimum wage last week, and we’re all for that.

But do you know who makes even less than the minimum wage? Yup, waiters.

Waiters are exempt from the minimum wage law.

Here’s the flip side though. According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, waiters at high-end restaurants are pulling in six figures.

Ivy league graduates are starting their careers serving drinks and food orders at really hip places around the country. Columbia and Harvard graduates are working in places like Per Se in New York.

Our point? Everything you need to learn about professional success you can learn as a waiter.

You want to be successful, you have to wait tables at least once, because you learn the following four vital skills:

1) Multitasking

2) Establishing trust

3) Dealing with demanding people

4) Working on a deadline

When you’re a waiter, you need establish trust. You have to be the person who knows how to take care of someone, and makes the customer feel taken care of.

It’s dealing with demanding people, it’s working on a deadline.

Sound much like an office?

waiter-tray_fullMore accurately, sound much like the path to a successful career?

DON’T TAKE YOUR NEW JOB FREEDOM FOR GRANTED

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SHOW DATE: JANUARY 15, 2014

Freedom and independence lead to more job satisfaction.

A new study by the Pew Research Center has found that bosses are more satisfied than employees. It’s not just because they have a greater salary and better job security, but because they have more freedom and independence.

That means you can get the same satisfaction too. There are various ways to work this out, whether it’s more flexible check-in times or working from home. The problem is when employees do achieve this level, they tend to screw it up.

There’s two thing that can happen: you either abuse your freedom and start procrastinating without the “adult” supervision, or you tend to fall off the boss’s radar.

There’s two simple methods you can employ to avoid this: stay in communication and send at least one email a day to your boss letting him know what’s up. Also, make sure you show that you deserve the newfound freedom by doing more, not less. We guarantee that this will lead to promotions, satisfaction and eventually becoming the boss yourself.