I know that this is just whining at this point, but I had this idea over three years ago dammit. It came out of the sheer frustration of trying to find… a good salsa, of all things. Seriously – you ever stand in the salsa section of a supermarket and try to find a good one, without giving yourself an ulcer by trying them all? It made me think about a supermarket that would sell only the top couple of brands of each item only. So not 25 brands of salsa or 10 different cooking oils or garbage bags… just the top 1 – 5 items that are truly the best.
I started typing this in response to an email from someone and felt the need to make it into a blog post, since 1) it was getting far too preachy and 2) it was getting far too long and 3) thought it was too good not to share with everyone…
In December of 2004, I left a job at Garelick Farms that I had been in for almost four years to pursue an opportunity with an entrepreneurial company in Providence. I worked very long, hard hours at Garelick, as I was in charge of not only our entire event marketing program, but the majority of work involved with implementing our marketing plan. I once went a period of 21 days without a day off, then had two days off and worked another 14 days straight. It was ugly. And in the end, I had to leave the company to get a promotion, and when I came back to the parent company, Dean Foods, I was where I should have been before.
But, the story that lead to my returning is what really drove home the work/life balance issue. The company I went to work for was the 13th or 14th entrepreneurial venture for the founder of the company. He was 52, very successful in all aspects: financially secure, a good wife, three healthy kids, well-respected in the business world and in the community, charitable, well-traveled, and had beaten cancer twice and had even given a kidney to his brother. Then last Easter weekend he was killed in a plane crash that took his life as well as his wife and youngest son, and another family of three from RI.
That was wake up-call #1… that life is truly fragile and something like that can take away even the best lived life. There were 2500 people at his funeral, and the Monday after the plane crash was the worst day I’ve ever had at work, and hopefully will ever have.
Wake-up call #2 came a month later when I got laid off along with over half the company. The dream was essentially over. Unlike some others within the company, I wasn’t panicking since I had some warnings and have a solid network of people to rely on, both professionally and personally. However, it is still a nerve-wracking experience: what will I do, where will I go, how will I pay my bills, etc. Well, I picked some freelance work, did some interviews, and enjoyed May, June, and July on a basically extended vacation. People told me when I got laid off that it will be the best thing that would ever happen to me and of course I thought they were nuts. They were right, I was wrong – it was. I didn’t lose my house or my car… in fact, I’m in better financial shape than I was a year ago. I rebounded quickly, got a chance to do things during those three months I would normally not have a chance to do (I went to the movies in the middle of the day for the first time ever!), and realized that my life does NOT equal my work.
Since then I’ve been doing more stuff like these classes at the Learning Connection (which were great, BTW), reading more, being more impulsive, and not working too late. Enough to be noticed and get the job done, but at the end of the day, I just want to make progress, that’s all. I won’t do everything that needs to get done, and it usually doesn’t matter whether I do it that day or the next morning.
I heard a speaker say something a few months ago that really struck me: that the famous "work-life balance" is complete myth. It doesn’t exist and never will. It will ALWAYS be out of balance, since most people have to spend at least 8 hours working. You also have commuting time and time for eating and sleeping. The only way to achieve "balance" time-wise is to either stop sleeping, eating or working, and that’s probably not gong to happen. So the best you can hope to do is to do more of what you want to do, and the only person who can do that is yourself. Maybe I could have stayed later tonight at work instead of going to two classes tonight, but I’m confident that the two classes gained me far more than staying late at work.
When it comes down to it, I want to control my life and my work, not let my work control my life. I let it slip away for a little too long under the guise of "paying my dues" and "working hard." I got a nice resume item out of it and some good experience, so its not for naught, but I can’t honestly say I would do it again just as I did.
It is March 7th and it is a Sunny day out. Cold, but Sunny. And the days are getting longer. And after a relatively mild winter, that can mean only one thing…
(that’s season, not seasoning)
I just signed up for the first contest of the year, the Snowshoe Grill Contest in Abington, MA. This is also going to hopefully be the first year that I finally get a chance to work with a team in a competition – I have to see if it is something I want to do myself.
Of course, regardless of whether or not I compete, I will continue my backyard barbecuing and I am looking forward to trying a new product: True Lemon and True Lime. In the spirit of full disclosure, I found out about these products through a colleague of mine, Laura Davis of Rinck Advertising, who is handling their marketing. So while this is a bit of a plug, I think the product sounds promising and look forward to trying it. I will provide a full report here when I do!
Somewhere along the way I got a reputation as being a gadget geek techie, and I don’t know when or how. For the purposes of this self-defensive post, I will define "gadget geek techie" as someone who simply has to have the latest and greatest gadget and really get excited by the technology and gadgets by themselves. I say I’m not one of "those people."
Here’s what the argument that I am one might have going for it: I do have a couple of XM satellite radios, and a Palm Treo 650 that I pretty much live by. I have a wireless network set up in my house, but I think everyone else does these days too. At this point just about anyone can set one up. I dabble in things like MySpace and this blog, but you’ll quickly realize that I don’t do a lot of fancy customization with either.
I use Vonage as my home phone service, but that happened only late last year and they’ve been around for a while. I have my own domain, but don’t know anything fancier than HTML which I think everyone knows now thanks to MySpace. I read WIRED and keep up on new trends (such as blogging and podcasting – more on that later) but that’s because I’m in marketing.
Here’s what would be arguing against it:
- I didn’t get my first cell phone until 2001
- That first cell phone was a good ‘ol Motorla Star-Tac and I sometimes wish I had that phone again… it still had the best audio quality out of any phone I’ve had
- The second cell phone I got – at the end of my two year contract with Verizon – had color screen, and that was it… no camera or anything
- I got the Treo 650 at the end of another two year contract last year and got it to replace a cell phone and a four year old Sony Clie that was dying on me.
- Speaking of which… I also got my Clie in 2001, hardly an early adopter of PDA technology. I bought mine and a few months later they started coming out with the $99 packs for graduation and father’s day….
- I had an ancient Macintosh Performa up until October of 2004, and it served me well for all those years. When I got a new computer, it was because I had to, and the computer I got was an off-the-shelf HP computer package from Best Buy, not a high-end super system. I didn’t even get a flat-screen LCD panel (a decision I’m regretting and thinking about getting a replacement – only because I’d like the extra room on my desk, not because I have monitor envy).
- The only thing I’ve done to the HP computer is install the wireless card. Kinda geeky, but not nearly as tough as some people would think
- Yes, I bought a laptop. No, I don’t use it all the time. No, I haven’t modified it since it came out of the box. No, it isn’t a top-of-the line. Its an Avertec middle-of-the road sufficient-for-me-when-I-need-it laptop.
- Perhaps most shocking of all to everyone who knows me – both as this supposed gadget geek and music-lover is that I DO NOT OWN AN IPOD! Nope, I don’t. Wouldn’t mind owning one and might get one eventually, and would gladly accept one as a gift (hint hint), but otherwise, I’m not in a rush to get one.
So that’s my story – I know about technology and have this here blog (that is barely a year old) and my own domain, and have a nifty cell phone, but that’s about it. However, I do stay up to date as to what the major trends are in technology, so I guess the best you could call me is an early mainstream adopter. I’m not a cutting-edge or early adopter, but I do get into things just as they start to go mainstream. Which is unfortunate for me, since nearly every bit of technology I’ve bought has gotten cheaper within 6 months of me buying it. So watch this blog as your own personal guide when to buy your next gadget… if I buy it, wait a few months and get it for half-price!