Do your eyes glaze over with the vacant stare of a dairy cow when reading most company websites, brochures, case studies, and white papers? Once I interviewed with a company whose tag line was Trust. Value. Integrity. It took me forever to figure out what their business was. After scouring their site and search engines, I deduced they were loan origination technology developers. Can you imagine what this does to potential business? Their website was jargon-jammed with corporate speak and communicated nothing. The powers-that-be who insist on cliché, jargon and words with no marketplace meaning undermine their own profit potential and branding power. As E.B. White wrote in The Elements of Style, these are the leeches that infest the pond of prose, sucking the blood of words. Let’s take a look at a few of the offenders.
Got a job? Great! The layoff sword spared and screwed you at the same time. Just because your co-workers went away doesn’t mean their workloads did. On top of your own responsibilities, you’re now wearing many hats, possibly a few wigs, and hopefully hip, sensible shoes that say, “I’m sassy, yet you’ll respect me in the morning.”
In any other circumstance, this would give you just cause to march into your boss’s office and ask for a compensation adjustment. The reality breakdown: for most organizations, the money isn’t there. Cash may be king, but it’s currently a king in exile. Ok, hold on. It’s not all bad news. Don’t leave and start Googling the next random thought that pops into your head. There are other things you can request in lieu of a raise.
I met my friend, Melody Abella, over ten years ago when we worked in the marketing department of a dot com near Washington, D.C. It was a good job. Great benefits. Couldn’t complain, except I could’ve cared less—about the company, my work or where my career was going. Don’t get me wrong. I performed my job duties, got a couple big promotions, bonuses and pay hikes. Parents were proud and relieved.
Every day I dragged myself into the office, I was playing the role of someone who cared. They could’ve tripled my salary and the sentiment would have been the same. Melody and I both had the benefits of education and lucrative employment, but our passions weren’t stoked by corporate power or ladder-climbing.
Sometimes I’d look around the office and wonder if everyone was as “into it” as they appeared. Even my boss, who is a fantastic writer, would talk about her book ideas that were going on paper once the kids graduated college (the boys were in grammar school). Melody began practicing yoga in college and the love affair continued into her corporate years.
Come sit by the warmth of the data center, co-workers. I have a Cube Farm Christmas tale to tell. I know those are the new wrinkle-free khakis you’re wearing and that you’ve been taking long lunches at hot yoga, so don’t act like you can’t sit cross-legged around my ergonomically correct chair…
Whew. Glad you clicked here before continuing your online shopping at work. Take the forthcoming advice from someone who uses “being green” as an excuse for being too cheap/lazy/both to mail holiday cards this year. It’s been kind of a rough one considering Sarah Palin became an author and I became more cynical and willing to drink rail liquor in any libation with an umbrella.
I digress. We’re nearing the birthday of the Baby Jesus so instead of baking him a cake, you’ve chosen names of co-workers (that haven’t been laid off) to spend your post-tax dollars on. Skip the candles and scented salts for your secret Santa gift this year. You need to find gifts that strike balance.
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This Thursday in the U.S. over 45 million turkeys will give up the gobble and contribute 525 million pounds of meat in our annual celebration of gratitude, grid-iron and gravy boats.
Before you put on your elastic eating pants and start patting pilgrims on the back, consider Abraham Lincoln. Not only did the 16th U.S. president give us the Emancipation Proclamation, a national banking system and an affinity for top hats, in 1863 he also gave us the last Thursday in November off “as a day for national thanksgiving and prayer.”
He did this as a morale booster for the Union army and health of the nation, not to glorify the fables fed to us in elementary school. Making the fourth Thursday in November a federal holiday also created one of the most wasted work weeks of the year. According to John Brown of The Chicago Tribune, it’s referred to as ‘The Lost Week’ in business circles. As in lost productivity, lost revenue and lost work. But not all is lost.
I just want to be me. But, I also want to eat. Let me clarify that: I want to eat food from a refrigerator plugged into one of four adjoining walls that are capped by a roof. On one of these walls I want the 1970’s poster of the kitten clinging to a tree branch, encouraging me to “hang in there!”
I’ve started and stopped this article the way a 13 year-old boy, or anyone for that matter, dials (or texts?) a number in hopes of a first date. This is a difficult conversation that can no longer sit on the sidelines. I know you’re waiting for me to make the first move, but let’s break the ice with easier topics first:
- Remember when you were seven and your hamster suddenly stopped getting nowhere fast on his wheel? Your parents lied when they told you he went to a rodent resort and spa.
- On December 25, if a red-suited, overly-gregarious man enters your house via chimney, he is a drunk burglar. Give him the mace, not milk and cookies. It’s not a question of naughty or nice.
- Only our moms truly believe we’re special. Everyone else finds us average-to-moderately unannoying.