Saturday, August 22, 2009

Aug 22, 2009 - Come Saturday Morning...

It feels like an ordinary Saturday morning. Coffee. Paper. NBC. Except for the five boxes taking up space in the living room waiting for me to unpack the contents. I did move them from the car to the house so I am making progress. Aren't we humans funny creatures? Hording things and stuff to remind us of pieces of our lives. My little cottage is filled with things and stuff. Mostly photos. It is the same with the items from my cube. Photos of amazing times and wonderful people. And the things we did in the name of fundraising. Wow! We had some fun when the previous CEO took over. We had some great years. I hope The Corporation can get those times back again in their future success.

I didn't write yesterday, I was out of the house and busy. First with the dentist. Told him I was laid off. When I told him, I felt a little embarrassed. Why? I'm not sure. As if my role defined me and I was no longer in the role so I was nothing. Little Kate. So not true - I have to keep reminding myself. I must remember I was the job. I walked away leaving only paperwork. They can have the paperwork but they can't have me. Still, it hurts. Perhaps it's easier if you get fired. Then you at least have a reason for being gone. Being laid off feels like you are wandering around in a daze repeating to yourself 'what did I do wrong'. Those of us who were laid off didn't do anything wrong. It was a variety of things - the economy; survival of the fittest, we weren't mean enough - I promise I know people who were told this; we no longer brought perceived value; too old; too new; etc., etc. It was time for all of us to move on.

I took care of a bunch of misc. errands and went to the paint store and picked out some colors. Bright ones. Mr. Lovejoy might not like them, but he hates to paint so he won't say a word. I usually paint when he is out fighting fire. Mr. Lovejoy is a wildland fire engine boss. When he comes home and walks in -- SURPRISE! A new house. He's usually in shock for a couple days and then he just smiles and knows I'll get bored and change it again soon. I love to paint. It's the poor person's remodel. That and caulk. In a strong wind my 100 year old cottage sways. All that caulk. And, I have small fingers so I'm good with laying down a thin bead. How about that?

Okay so dentist, paint, market, and the unemployment office. I haven't filed for unemployment in over 35 years. I'm sure things have changed and will prove to be a whole new experience. Thank goodness for the Internet. Yea for change and innovation! It is a fact of life however that I will need money to live if work is unable to find me, so I'll file for unemployment. I know I can go online but I worked in Washington and live in Idaho so there may be some extra hoops I have to jump through before filing online.

The line was very long and after about an hour, I left. Without getting anywhere near the front desk. I'll go back on Monday as soon as they open. I'm not even sure how much I'll get. Is it going to be enough to pay my bills if work doesn't find me soon enough? Very frightening idea.

Then I came home and removed the boxes from my back seat and trunk so I could take the puppy to the doctor for her next set of shots. After the shots, I came home and sat around and read.

But here is the plan going forward. I told you last time I would have one. It's short but my wonderful oldest daughter is coming to see me tomorrow and stay for a few days so I didn't want to have to work on a long list. Besides, baby steps right? Otherwise I panic.

Monday - go back to the unemployment office, call RightChoice to start putting my resume together and unpack the boxes. Also, email some more friends of mine in the Community Involvement field to see what is out there. I have to put together a meeting for a committee I sit on for the YWCA board of directors. I'm glad I still have my volunteer work.

Mr. Lovejoy and I discussed the possibility of me having to work out of state for a couple of years and we will deal with it when the time comes. It is vastly important to me to stay in the field. I need to do a job that makes a difference. I want to work for a great company that does great things in the world. There is a company out there looking for someone just like me.

I know I have had some disparaging remarks over the last couple of days regarding corporate america, but I needed to get some of my hurt out. You know, like the inner teenager we all can get to at times. Besides you can't get away from working in corporate america. Just about everything is a corporation. Again, it comes down to leadership.

If there will ever happen to be a leader out there who reads this insignificant little blog, they'll understand my hurt and know if they were to hire me into the right environment, I would thrive and make them successful. My oldest son said to me many times, "mama, you aren't meant to be a king, but you are one hell of a kingmaker". I like that. I like building others up and helping them to recognize everything they need is inside. I did thrive once at The Corporation.

I have had a couple lovely friends caution me with my writing so as not to shoot myself in the foot with bad mouthing corporations. I did put some hard thought into their words and decided after reading over what I had already written, it wasn't so bad. I'm speaking of the writing. I believe there are many out in the world who can relate to what I am writing. Even those executives who have been laid off. It might be like the emperor's new clothes - someone has to speak up. I'm one small 'middle-aged' woman, really, other than my friends, who is going to give a crap about what I write. Besides, I want to help others get through this and we aren't always going to think positive thoughts. Some days are going to be shitty. I am also going through the human experience and I can, and have been, a mouthy little broad. But I do great work!

The tips I am giving out are to help educate the average employee and little more. If we have all the information me need, we become better people, better employees. It levels the 'respect' field. How can we respect the companies we work for when there are so many secrets that effect us? Transparency has to be throughout an organization. All the way down to the worker bee level. Aren't we what make the big machine go?

I know I still have the 'corporate bitches' section to write but I am waiting a little longer. You can't believe the amount of people - from all kinds of companies and corporations who have contacted me over the last couple of days to tell me their 'corporate bitch' story. Once I stop getting emails and info, I'll compile a profile of the 'corporate bitch' and share it with everyone. Who knew this topic would spur so much input.

If there are topics you would like me to talk about, let me know. I'll do my best.

Today lets talk about one more great leader example from my work history and I'll put in another one of my mad skills.

Another leader I was fortunate to serve under at The Corporation was a retired Lt. Colonel in the Air Force. He was tough. He expected accountability (which I love) and for you to do your job to the very best of your ability every day, no matter what was asked of you. Those who worked for him would growl sometimes about how he did things but we would have walked through fire for him. He stood behind all his employees, he never threw any of us under the bus. Praised our ideas and even gave us awards for the best ideas. He respected each one of for what we brought to the table.

One of the best lessons he brought me through was the "It's not just about parking spaces" lesson.

I had been tasked with the corporate CTR (Commute Trip Reduction) program and managed the car pooling, ride share and alternate transportation information. I know it seems weird Community Involvement would get this function but no one really knew where it belonged and I have always been known for saying "I'll do it. I don't know what it is, but I can find out and do it". I feel the more I know the more I know. Somebody has to be the 'know-it-all'. Why not me.

We had about 10 parking spaces at the front of our parking lot designated for carpooling. Well, no one really used them and I met with a few other people and it was decided to release those carpool spaces back into the general population. BIG MISTAKE! It was as though the world was coming to an end. I got hate email - seriously. I was amazed. Things like "how dare you take our parking spaces away from us. What's next?" Seriously, employees were pissed.

The environment at The Corporation was not good. Our stock was very low, everyone was distrustful of everyone. No one liked the current administration - you know the corporate lifecycle I talked about earlier - and they were going to take it out on something. The parking spaces were the perfect target.

I went to the Colonel and asked what had I done that made everyone so mad? I had no idea employees were so attached to those spaces. They certainly never used them. He smiled and said, "Kate, it's never about the parking spaces. When people are unhappy, unappreciated and aren't being communicated to, it creates a vacuum. In that vacuum people will create all kinds of interesting things. Learn to defuse the situation. In this case, give the employees back the parking spaces, apologize, and move on. It will give them a little control in this uncontrollable and volatile work environment." This is exactly what happened. It was an eye opener for me into the human psyche and it started my interest in 'group think' and cultural behaviour. He was also the first leader who gave me permission to read. I know I didn't need permission for reading in general, but reading for work and on work topics. I asked him if The Corporation would buy the books. His reply, "Yes of course, the more you know and keep up on your profession, the better it is for The Corporation." I bought books and read like the mad woman that I am. I am a voracious reader and I love business books. It's about people and how they move around in the uncontrollable environment and I love it. I am a wonk. And I have read a lot of books on Corporate Social Responsibility, Sustainability, Community Involvement, Corporate Citizenship, Non-profits, Environment, Social Services, Foundations, Social Innovation, Strategic Planning, and all kinds of books on management and systems.

Thank you Colonel for giving me permission to grow in my career and respecting me.

So remember. It's never just about parking spaces. It's always something bigger.

Now to my next mad skill. I gave you People Skills and Relationship building, which are very similiar. So today let's go with - Strategic Planning.

It must be the Virgo in me because I love to plan. I love to create and then move into implementation all of which takes planning. I even map out my trip when I am running errands - which way will save time and money. I'm crazy like that. I concentrate on the end result and work backward from there. It works for me everytime.

In my career as Community Investment Program Manager at the Corporation I had ample opportunities for strategic planning. I put together a strategic plan every year. Aligning our corporate goals and objectives with our giving strategy. It made it so much easier to show the CEO why and where we gave in our communities, and more importantly how it would benefit The Corporation. I believe in being a visionary leader and preparing for our future so we gave quite a bit of funding to education and programs like FIRST Robotics. It made sense being a technology company filled with engineers. Didn't we want to help create a workforce ready generation, specifically in engeering and math? Sure we did.

The Community Investment/Community Involvement profession is not about balloons and t-shirts. Okay it is a little bit about balloons and t-shirts. Employees are very attached to their t-shirts so don't discount them.

Well Mr. Lovejoy and I are going for a bike ride and then I have to clean the guest room for my daughter.

Take care,



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