Monthly Archives

August 2016

Let It Go – Helpful Advice, Not Just an Annoying Song

By | Be Reasonable, Take Risks | No Comments

My daughter, Antonella, is going to start 5th grade tomorrow. Every year for the first day of school we take a picture. We stand in front of the same tree, holding the same sign. Well, obviously the grade on the sign changes; but other than that, we stick to the system.

It is now 7:47 PM, 12 hours before the 5th grade commences, and more importantly our masterpiece  photo is taken. And, BOOM, she comes in and drops the bombshell of all bombshells. My beautiful Antonella has decided she wants to make her own sign. Yes, her OWN sign. Oh, and in case you haven’t figured out what this means, allow me to bring it home for you. It means the 5th grade sign will not match all the other signs!

What. The. Hell? The continuity of lovely matching signage for every first day of school, is now ruined forever. When I add the picture to my Facebook collage  EVERYONE is going to see it doesn’t match. Doesn’t she know this is crazy? If I post on Instagram, at least people can’t zoom in. Maybe they won’t notice. But what if they snapshot and then zoom in? This can’t really be happening.

Thankfully, I have learned to pause when agitated (I don’t always do that, but here’s a testament to my growth). Instead of insanely yelling how crazy this idea is, and that there is no possible way we can have a 5th grade sign that doesn’t match, I instead took a deep breath, paused, and asked how I could help. Turns out, I can’t help either. No matching sign and I am not allowed to help. This is madness.

As a boss, I am continually working on letting go. I am a work in progress when it comes to accepting that other people may have a different way of accomplishing the same goal. Their style, language and approach may be different.  I am consistently resisting the impulse to tweak or change EVERY SINGLE THING someone does. Believe it or not, I make a conscious decision each day to do this –  my main goal is growth, if I close the door to new ideas and opinions, the employee will never grow and nether will I.

Don’t get me wrong, I still jump in a lot. There are certain things I will always be maniacal about. I am doing everyone a favor by making sure they have funny stuff to talk about at my funeral someday. I do feel this has also been my biggest area of improvement over the last few years. The people who have worked with me long enough can attest, that I have grown immensely from where I started. Now, before I jump,  I implement the following list in my head (and being me, it comes into use over a dozen times per day.)

  • Is the task and/or objective ultimately being achieved?
  • Is the employee (or friend, daughter, husband etc.) getting it done in the appropriate time frame?
  • Can others that need to, understand the process and the result?
  • Are we meeting the budgets?
  • What ways can I coach and help support the individual as opposed to just dictate?
  • How do I give feedback when the first pass isn’t so great and not just take the task back?
  • Could their way be better? Can I learn something new?
  • Is there an opportunity for me to enhance or collaborate?
  • Am I going to die of embarrassment? – Ok, this one is more about the sign, but it does apply to marketing stuff too.

As a leader it is essential for me to understand where my areas of improvement are. I make an effort to surround myself with the people, in and out of the office, that will (respectfully) tell me where I can be a better me. I am a student first; I never want to stop learning. Growth is one of the most exciting aspects of my journey. I never want plateau or prevent a chance to be a better me for myself, my family or my business. If I get to that point, I need to find a better challenge. Or just have someone kick me in the ass.

Holy Bombshell. During the course of writing this BLOG it has also come to my attention that Antonella will not be wearing the black skirt. She will be wearing the blue one – AND WITH SNEAKERS. Not the new ones, the old ones. I may actually die.

Mean What You Say and Say What You Mean…or Don’t

By | Be Clear, Be Honest, Motivate Others | No Comments

Your Guide to Interoffice Communication

After 20+ years in business, I’ve gotten pretty good at reading between the lines, and no I don’t mean when people are giving me the middle finger. If you sometimes need help interpreting common workplace phrases, here is my personal guide. You’re welcome.

When an employee says, “I’ll circle back around on that—,” they really mean “I totally forgot and now I need to scramble to put something together.”

When your boss says, “I’m curious why you did X,” they mean “Why in the world would you do that?”

When the employee says, “I reached out a couple times; just waiting for a response,” means “I completely forgot to reach out.”

When the boss says, “That sounds interesting, I haven’t had a chance to look into it,” means “I have most definitely taken a complete, full, and in-depth look into it and I am not interested at all.”

When an employee says, “Just as an FYI…,” they mean, “I’m now asking for your forgiveness, because I neglected to ask permission.”

When someone (me) says, “I haven’t had my coffee yet,” they (I) mean, “If you continue to converse with me before I am properly caffeinated, I will turn into a three-headed-dragon, blow fire and torch this office. Do we want that? I think not. Please walk away.”

When an employee says, “I believe so,” they mean, “I know so. I could not fathom being incorrect on this. However, since I sense some disbelief in your tone, I will use the word ‘believe’ so that you can look into it further, only to realize I was right.”

When the boss says, “Ok, put it on my calendar,” they mean “I likely will not show up at this meeting but I don’t want to hurt your feelings right now.”

When an employee says: “I can’t come in, I have food poisoning,” they mean, “I was at an after-hours party until 4 am.”

When a boss says, “We really need to change X,Y,Z,” what they mean is, “this is your task and you better get it done.”

 

 

4 Survival Tips – Staying Sane with an Insane Boss

By | Be Genuine, Be Honest, Have Fun | No Comments

Most of us, at one time or another, have dealt with a difficult boss. Some of us have experience with a boss that is outright insane. The insanity can be the good kind, the bad kind or a mix of both. It may also depend on the day, the hour or the minute.

When my current boss approached me about joining SoapBox as the second employee, I immediately felt her passion and enthusiasm. She is still just as passionate. What I didn’t realize at the time, is that passionate can be seemingly (or realistically) INSANE. Let’s just say, if there was a college degree program based on “how to manage your boss who may be off their rocker at times”, I would have a PhD.  If you have an insane boss, and want to live to tell the tale, definitely read on.

Let me tell you how it all began…

When I think about working with Jacqueline over the last 4 years, it plays out in my mind like a movie montage of a 5-foot tall, blonde Army General threatening to make me do push-ups if I ever even think about chewing gum during a meeting.

When we started the company in 2012, there were less than a handful of us. We put in 12-16 hours a day, 8 days a week. We had to be swift on our feet, ready for whatever came, and manage up, down, and sideways. I had to create a list, that when followed diligently, would save myself and the lives of those around me. I actually titled it “The Boss Lady Survival Guide” and it went something like this:

  • Times New Roman should NEVER EVER ANYWHERE be used. EVER.
  • We never “wanted to follow up”, “wanted to talk” or wanted anything really. You are doing and you did.
  • Everyone has a second chance every day. Just don’t mess up.
  • Double space after a period = death.

Once the dust settled, I had to admit that there is something to be said about the nutty ones. As the years passed, I realized that there is indeed a method to the madness. She might have seemed unreasonable and seemingly inappropriate at times, but she also has a way of earning the respect of others, and knows how to get the seemingly impossible done.

Her type of cray-cray somehow translates into making the company succeed. She is uber passionate. At times, I think she has lost it and we are all doomed. Other times, we are in awe of the genius. Her unpredictability is utterly predictable. And if you aren’t prepared to train with the best, run the other way. Fast.

So, now that I have earned my PhD (feel free to call me Doctor Dan), I decided to lend a helping hand to others who might be in a similar position. Here are my tips…

  1. Some Battles Are Unwinnable

I’m often puzzled by how my boss’ brain works. Build a successful startup from the ground up with almost no funding? Sure, no problem. Remember where you put your keys? That’s a tough one. From working with Jacqueline, I’ve learned that it’s not possible to change a person. So while she’s focusing on ways to revolutionize Market Research, I’ll make sure she has her phone charger, something to eat and a lint roller in her desk.

  1. Learn Your Boss’ Style

Some bosses are prim, proper and polished at all times. My boss is more like the opposite of this. She can, at times, rival a truck driver in her language choices, and I always know when she has to go to the bathroom. Early on I learned to stop wasting mental energy on perfecting “being professional.” Throw the “I-am-at-work persona” out the window – doesn’t fly with her. She is real. And wants everyone around her to be real.

  1. Accept Emotional Meltdowns

Tears are a normal, and acceptable, part of growing a startup. If you, or your boss, doesn’t have an emotional breakdown (the public kind, not the kind when you are alone in your car driving home), you might be doing something wrong. Instead of trying to shield people from your boss’ emotions, use them to your advantage. Next time you’re involved in a high-stakes negotiation, try mentioning that your boss is likely to “freak out” if things don’t go her way. It just might tip things in your favor.

  1. Invest in a Good Pair of Sneakers

So if nothing else works, you can run away. Or, if you have a boss like Jacqueline you can last through the early-morning or late-night “team-building” workouts that she will force you to participate in. I have been subject to mud runs, a 200-mile team running relay (I need to add here the teams were 12 people and I was the only male. We didn’t sleep for 32 hours because we were RUNNING across Nevada), and vomit-inducing workouts in hotel gyms. She doesn’t ever care how “good” I do – she is addicted to people who try.

My final bit of advice. If your boss is actually insane, these tools will not work. You can’t reason with crazy. If your boss is more concerned about themselves than the employees, run the other way. Finally, I may need a new job after this – just kidding. I already tried to quit one time to pursue my “higher calling” and she wouldn’t let me. Best decision someone ever made for me.

The Real Real of an Entrepreneur

By | Be Genuine, Be Honest, Create Value, Take Risks | No Comments

14 Floundering Founder Moments

 

  1. The day you fire the person you thought would save the day. You know the one you paid double the budget for because you were so sure?
  1. That moment you finally have 4 people in the office who know what’s going on! Unfortunately, you gave them all vacation at the same time. Perfect.
  1. The day one of your staff says something like “Oh, my Mom does that.” Your mom must be a really hot, young, and successful lady then. *insert hair flip here*
  1. When you completely blow your monthly goal out of the water and you hear; “Can’t wait for you do it again next month.” Umm, 2 months in a row? Let’s all take a moment to appreciate this month. mKay?
  1. When you forget your lunch at home. I like to eat. Scratch that. LOVE TO EAT. And I’m extremely particular about what I eat. So this is a day ruined for me.
  1. The day you are super pumped for CrossFit after work. But instead of going you somehow end up in bed after the true exhaustion of reading 1/10th your unread emails.
  1. The unforgettable moment when you can’t unsee something you saw on some dumbass’ Social Media page. And now its saved in your camera-roll and no matter how hard you try, you cannot stop looking at it.
  1. The moment when you’re searching for a way to make your staff understand how serious you really are. But you realize, flipping a table will get you sued (and what’s the point if there are no cameras around) and dropping 12 F-Bombs may just hurt the nice girl’s feelings.
  1. The morning you are so proud you have all your sh*t together and you’re finally prepared for the day. Only to have left your laptop and gym socks at home. So now you have to give yourself the “I Love Myself Just the Way I Am” speech and work as a “Guest User” all day. Also, gym shoes without socks is just gross.
  1. When the BCC bites you in the ass. For the third time.  And refuses to take you out to dinner first. How rude.
  1. When you lock your car keys in the office and your office keys in your car.  True story. And let’s not talk about how the spare keys are conveniently in your “other purse”.
  1. That moment when people are purposely ignoring your emails and you have to decide between snapping your laptop in half or driving to their house and forcing them to respond in person. Only to realize you actually never sent anything and each email is still minimized at the bottom of your screen; ironically only waiting for YOUR approval.
  1. When your late-night scroll through social media reveals how your “sick” employee nurses themselves back to perfect health by getting dressed up and going out to what seems to be a club or an extravagant bar of some sort.  Just so we’re all on the same page. The fake call-in didn’t bother me. The stupidity of posting it on social media was the punch in the gut. I expect my team to be smarter than that. Wait a day and post it tomorrow — for HR purposes.
  1. Umm, auto fill is the most ingenious invention of all time. Oops, wrong client. Oops, wrong employee.  Oh well, I guess the President of our company always wanted to know my “honest” opinion about his “art pieces.” I’ll just start writing my apology letter now.
SoapBoxSample Dammittelltaleten

So You Want to Be the Boss?

By | Be Honest, Be Reasonable, Take Risks | No Comments

Here is an in-the-moment, truthful look at what being the Boss means on an average Tuesday night in July.

It is 10:09 PM and I have 2742 unread emails.

I have 52,755 total emails in my inbox. When my computer stops working any day now, IT will blame it on my email box size. It may, or may not, be the real reason.

I have 21 voicemails on my cell phone I have not listened to.

At least 5 people are really mad at me.

I have barked orders, been barked at, attempted to meditate and cried – all in the last 60 minutes. My daughter insisted I stop what I am doing so I can do a double French braid in her hair. I had no idea I could actually do that. But I did. That was cool. It does not matter who is, and who is not, doing their job. Ultimately it is my responsibility. My daughter has to be ready and out the door by 8 AM to get to an audition 70 miles away and then to Make-a-Movie camp. Oh and she needs a white tee-shirt by 8 AM – no problem. The dogs are outside and still need to be fed. My cat may need to be fed too. I am not sure, as the cat may actually be lost.

People honestly think I ignore their emails. Nope, I just don’t get to them all.

I should probably go outside and check my mail (my physical mail — you know, snail mail) as once it gets full enough, the mail person takes it all back and I have to fetch it from the “main” post office. Yes, this has happened more than once.

I finally hit the wall and needed to feed myself. I ate a chicken lollipop – what’s that you ask? I just stuck a fork in a piece of chicken and nibbled it down. My 9-year-old prepared her own dinner. Pasta. She made way too much. I had a small panic attack when I saw the kitchen. We all pitched in to clean it up. My husband looks super tired. I am not sure where he even worked today or what his day was like. I really want to know but the truth is, we will likely not get to chat or spend more than 2 minutes together.

I have at least a dozen email replies minimized at the bottom of my screen.

I asked my daughter to pack her own lunch. She shoved ham in a round 2 inch Tupperware container that you might use for ranch dip or something. Seems ok to me.

I really, really have to pee.

It’s the Nordstrom Anniversary Early Access sale and I need to spend some quality time online shopping before the deals are open to the public. I have some actual “real” problems too. But I have no mental energy to put towards them. I am training for a 100-mile bike race. And I have not done any training today.

I finally decided to pee and there was no toilet paper.

The AC is malfunctioning. It is like 50 degrees in some rooms and 90 in others. I am just putting clothes on and taking clothes off as I move around the house – maybe that can count as part of my bike training somehow.

I’ve been tagged in multiple Facebook challenges. Probably everyone is mad at me for any one of the following; not posting pics that make me feel like a great Mom, or pics of my spouse and then tagging 300 other people, copying and pasting the status to show I really read their wall, doing 22 pushups in honor of something or posting a makeup-free selfie.

So you want to be the boss? It’s not always as glamorous as people think.