Archive for the ‘work’ Category

Avon Voices

Avon Voices is an American Idol-like competition where Avon did a talent search all over the world. Finalists were flown in to New York city, given makeovers, and they sang in the Avon Foundation event last week where the winners were chosen – one was among Representatives and one among general public. I was lucky to attend the event, it was amazing. In times like these I feel proud to be a part of Avon. $860 MM has been donated to breast cancer research through Avon Foundation, and during that event alone $2 MM was collected. Fergie, Ashley Greene of Twilight fame, and Natasha Bedingfield were invited. Fergie looked much better on stage than in photos on blogs, Ashley seemed nervous, and I love Natasha. It was such an amazing event!!

I saw Andrea Jung as well, I had half a mind to take a photo with her like some others but didn’t want to seem like a crazed fan or something. Evelina was the general public winner, a young girl from Lithuania who sang the final song beautifully, so much so that I had goose bumps and a guy sitting nearby had tears. Such an amazing voice!

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New job

I recently changed jobs and moved to a different industry in a much larger company. Recession and past experience have made me very skeptical about promises made by hiring managers to bring new people in, and I was a bit concerned about whether promises would be kept. In general, I am skeptical by nature and don’t take things at face value.

I deliberated long and hard about a few things related to the position and potential uncertainty, and kept second-guessing everything. AM told me one thing – in the past you have been 100% certain about some opportunities and yet they have not turned out per your expectations, take a leap of faith here and maybe this will be the right decision. I am so glad I took his advice.

It has been just one week into my job, and I feel free — yes, free — to do whatever I want, as I want. Larger companies require a bit of specialization, and you have more people doing the work that you alone did in a smaller company. More brands to manage, more product launches, more meetings to attend. I can pick and choose which meetings to attend, what to learn, and which people to interact with in other teams. I have not been so free in the last two years.

As in my previous job, some retail companies have a crazy environment – micro-management occurs at some levels because every last penny has to be well-spent. I was kept away from meetings so that I did not waste time in meetings and spent more time working. I felt as if all I did was sit in an office and work in a silo. I wanted to interact with more people and give strategic input. The last minute changes and decisions made the work environment very crazy. Smaller budgets made it challenging to do more. However, I learned a lot, much more than I would have ever learned in a larger company, and the experience I gained is priceless. I got to do so many things and learned to operate at a very efficient level and think about the business from all perspectives – technology, customer service, website, merchandising, and marketing.

I don’t see the craziness in my current role. There are challenges, no doubt,  but so far I feel a renewed enthusiasm for going to work everyday and making a strong contribution. I cannot believe how free I am and how free I feel just by being there. No micro-management, no craziness. We even have a cafeteria, and work is walking distance from my apartment. It takes me only 5 minutes to cross the three streets and be at work. I leave at 8:55 and am there by 9. I know that once I get more into the job there will be challenges, but so far I really like everything I see. Another benefit of working in a large global company is that I can move to different teams and learn different things.

Its funny because I joined on the same day with someone who worked for the biggest competitor of my previous company. She had the exact same work environment as I did, and we both sat chatting on Friday expressing how free we felt just by being here. She feels the same level of enthusiasm and we both started contributing on day 2. We knew and had worked with the same vendors – in fact, when vendors heard that I had moved, they mentioned her name and asked if I knew her. Its such a small world!

I am happy, truly truly happy that AM pushed me to make the right decision for me. I feel relaxed, enthusiastic, and FREE!

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Two sides of a coin

Today I had a great time with a co-worker and an ex-co-worker. I always try to be professional and don’t let my guard down around co-workers. But it was nice interacting in a relaxed environment, and after a few glasses of wine, everyone let their guard down and totally relaxed. It helped that our ex-co-worker was outspoken and a talker. I had so much fun, and saw different sides of them. I discovered some new things about a co-worker’s personal life, as did she about me. It just made me see her in a different light. Just goes to show that you can work with people for over two years very closely, and you just never know about them, or really know them. I was also surprised at the level of awareness she had about a few things at work. I had such a good time, and will make an effort to be more relaxed around co-workers. I like being professional, but an occasional outing doesn’t hurt.

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Corporate America is all about making money and sucking up to the right people. You bark up the right tree, you get promotions and raises. You don’t, you are left with nothing. I was telling AM that maybe we should move to Europe. But the Brits are stuck up, the French don’t get me started. I like Italy, or maybe Germany, or Switzerland – way less stuck up and work-obsessed than Americans, not that Indians are less stuck up but still. Maybe London is different from the rest of Britain, kind of like how NY is different from the rest of US.

Parents teach you to be nice to people as a kid, and you think — let me be nice, people will like me and I will like people, and we all will get along. Then you learn that your parents were wrong, completely wrong. These days I come across negative people, and I tell myself, its just a job, move on. Don’t get so caught up and be affected by these things.

I spoke to an agency about working with them on a program, and asked him for info. The guy was an ass and was so rude and unprofessional. I ask him, are you interested? He says no go to another agency. The conversation goes nowhere, so I am like okay if you don’t want to work with us we don’t want to work with you. It ends there. The guy says he is the owner. I am not sure if he is bluffing, so I call his receptionist who gave me his number in the first place and ask her if he is the only guy to deal with. She says yes. I am like in recession, how come you have big companies working with you, when the guy has such a negative attitude? I will ask his biggest client whom I know personally whether he deals like this with them. Anyway, the guy calls me back and is now more subdued and justifies his ass-like behavior.

It doesn’t end there. He calls the client I mentioned, and tells him that I called him asking for private info about their campaign. What a fucking slime-ball. My contact emailed me telling me about this. I was not going to say much, but I told him that the guy was rude and unprofessional with us, and my colleague and I were surprised by his behavior. And I did not ask for any private info. I will never work with that slime-ball in future. How does the guy run his business like this? He probably thinks my company is not that big. Well, go read the numbers.

Another vendor I work with backtracked on our verbal agreement. And kept backtracking. The vendor is all talk and no walk, completely fake, and their numbers are unbelievable. I am so so so glad that we did not end up paying a fat set-up fee that they demanded, and ended up having a different kind of an agreement. They sold this big concept to us, we had some results last year, went ahead with the plan, and now we have all sorts of problems with their interface. And their backtracking — I hate it when people go back on their word. So unprofessional. After back and forth nothing moved forward. I don’t see why I should have to go to them when they are playing hard-ball. I expect certain professionalism and when vendors don’t show that, its like WTF. Anyway, I am going to move on from this. We have spent enough calls, emails, time, and energy on trying to make it work. In any case I am sick and tired of their hard-ball attitude when they have no goods to show for it.

Who knew working with vendors required constant monitoring? But I like being on the client side way better. Its more challenging and you are in more control.

I have a new team in one agency. The team is very opinionated, but I like that. We disagree, but I prefer a team that is opinionated because at least they have an opinion. They have some logic behind it. The last thing I want is a “yes-vendor”.

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Annoying vendors

I was annoyed with a vendor, who did what I thought showed lack of integrity and reeked of desperation. I told the vendor on my call, no I do not agree with x strategy, and we should not do this. So she goes behind my back, and emails me and my boss and says, why don’t I walk you through these recommendations that favor the strategy (I just said no to)? My boss did not know the details, so she was happy to discuss more. I gave her a background and explained that I will not tolerate that my vendor will go up the ladder if I say no for something.

I am going to talk to my boss about pushing them to interact with me directly instead of reaching out to her so that the message is loud and clear that they cannot go up the ladder to have my decisions over-ruled. I am also going to tell the vendor clearly that my boss and my team trusts me to completely make the right decision, so they need to interact with me. If I say no to a decision, my superiors will not over-rule that decision and will defer to me for everything related to the channel. So they need to deal directly with me. The best way to prevent them from doing this is if my manager supports me and directs them to deal with me.

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Corporate America sucks

Corporate America sucks. Big time. You get hardly any holidays and are worked to the brim. Corporate American culture is like a parasite — it sucks all the blood out of you till it bleeds you dry. First of all, the country has no culture to boast of so no holidays to accompany that. Hardly any national holidays. Then you have 11 sick days and 15 days holidays. My company has 17 paid-time off which includes sick days — although the summer Fridays are a BIG perk and unheard of. Second, people are just spokes of a wheel to management. While every spoke is needed to get the wheel to turn, management feels free to move the spokes around at will. In the process management forgets that these are people, not spokes. If you talk to management, you are given a crap-and-bull story bla bla bla. Management will nod their heads and agree with you, empathize with you, but do nothing about it. It maybe that they don’t have the power to do anything. All the business school crap that you read about motivation, communication, managerial skills, promotion, bla bla is all pure crap. I have not come across a single company that is not governed by office politics in these matters. Office politics – the biggest evil.

Europeans are the best. East Europeans have the maximum number of holidays and then Europeans. Italians don’t work in summer and go away on vacation. They close their workplace at 3pm!!! Ah the luxury… Canadians have the fewest holidays, then Chinese, then Americans. But China and Canada have more national holidays and their workplace is not as parasitic/vampire-like as America’s. This culture is spreading… multi-nationals in India follow American rules, but the average work time in India is 10 to 5. So even though people work Saturdays, the work hours are better. My British friend went to Tony Robbins’ conference, convinced her husband to go with her, and GOT HER COMPANY TO PAY saying that she had to go for motivational reasons. CAN YOU BELIEVE IT??? And she kept telling me to do it too!!!

Bloggers from my fav blog, http://www.apartmenttherapy.com, were in Europe for a conference. All the Europeans went out for drinks and had fun after the conference while Americans went up to their rooms and wrote for their blogs late in the night. Why do American lives revolve around work so much? Why do people live and breathe for work? Work is just one dimension of life — it is not life itself. I used to care deeply about my work – I still do – its hard not to care about something you spend most of your time and life with. But I have grown to understand that work is not everything – its just work. Like AM says, work is work, it is not supposed to be fun. Its just one aspect of life. It can be as big or as small as you want it to be.

Only in American culture is it common to visit shrinks. Clearly, people need it. With such a culture, stresses of everyday life, lack of appreciation, rude people to deal with, poor customer service, life is a bitch. All of this is manifold if you live in New York.

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Good day at work

My team is very competitive – very very competitive at work. Something happened yesterday which made us all a bit peeved, and all of us turned it around today. It feels good, very good. We were pushed to show our very best, and we did. Two is better than one, and four is even better! So we showed our very best and felt good about it. I like that my team is so competitive – we have to be to drive sales and work in such a high pressure environment.

It feels nice to have a “partner in crime” in your very own small team. You can talk to each other like you cannot with someone at a higher or lower level. So yeah it feels good. Sometimes I think that I should praise my manager, but it becomes awkward to praise your own manager about their work. But I will find a way to do that the next time. She is a bit low-key especially in meetings, and she praises me and my work, so I should return the favor sometimes. Its just that when you are presenting something and you are so focused on saying what you have to and keeping within the time limit that its hard to think of everything.

So ya my day was good today. I have been in a bad mood these last few days and very tired… I am so glad its a Friday tomorrow. Our second last summer Friday where we can leave work by 1pm. Our CEO said that we can wear jeans to work everyday, but highly recommended our company jeans. Well, nobody will check tags so…

When I havd good days at work, I always think of my parents, especially my mom, and wish she had the pleasure of experiencing this feeling. Whatever I am today is because of them, their love, their sacrifices. And I feel deeply grateful for everything.

I do want to get promoted next year. I am working extremely hard, and I know its tough because of the economy, but I need to get promoted. If I don’t I am going to have to look elsewhere if anybody else in my extended team gets promoted. What may hurt my chances is recent changes internally which had nothing to do with my work or ability. It had more to do with the organizational structure. So if I don’t get promoted and someone else from my extended team does, using the economy as an excuse will not work. I work my butt off, and more than doubled sales last year. I have taken on more responsibility, and manage so many programs with limited resources. The least my company can do is promote me. If not, I will take my skills where they are valued.

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