Thank you for dropping by!

I truly appreciate that you've decided to share part of your day in my world. I hope your time has been well spent and I've made you smile, laugh or think.





Friday, August 30, 2013

And They All Live Happily Ever After

In case you didn't hear, we got our new principal.

When I wrote my fairy tale post a few weeks ago I wasn't sure how it was going to turn out.  We had stormed the castle, but you never know.  There was always the fear that we could be punished for making so much noise by getting someone even worse.

I felt obligated to share with everyone how it appears to be going after the first week.

OH MY FREAKING GOODNESS IT'S AMAZING!

No joke.

I got lost in the office today because it felt different.  It didn't look any different- it just felt different.  I nearly walked into the restroom instead of the conference room.

Teachers are smiling.  As if they are lunatics.  Full faced smiles.  I wonder if their faces hurt after all the smiling I've seen.

They are skipping.

I kid you not.  I explained to two of my faves this morning that last year, when the 8:50 am bell before school would ring, the teachers would exit the building like a gang... all the grade levels coming out in a row... heads held low... lanyards around their necks... not a smile to be seen.. herding the poor children into the building for a day of worksheets.

This week-- SKIPPING.  They all have this little perk in their step.  There are sparkles in their eyes.

It's crazy.

There are hugs.

There is laughter.

Oh-- and there are crayons.

The crayons are back.

Sea Camp is back on the calendar.  During whale watching season.  AWESOME.

There is going to be a Battle of the Books.

The parent group is going to be committee focused- not just a few people running everything because it's easier for the principal to control them.  The meetings are even going to be after work hours so hopefully more parents can attend-- not just the 5-10 of us who always came.

All this and it's only week 1.

Now my concern is with the departure of some of the terrific families, we'll see the test scores drop.  And the crayons and all that fun might get blamed.

But I don't think that's going to happen.  The teachers are rejuvenated.  They are going to be able to adapt to the children in their classes and tailor what's best for their student population-- you know, what's the word.. yes, they are being allowed to teach.  Like it's a profession.  Because it is.

One week.

What a difference one person can make.

I don't know the principal well, but I've worked with people like him.  He's letting his team do what they are trained to do.  He has faith in them-- that they know what they are doing and they will choose to do the right thing. 

That's the difference between a manager and a leader.

I chatted with him briefly at the Meet-n-Greet-  actually I think I may have threatened to kiss him , but I hugged him instead-- and I'm not a hugger, by the way.  He started to say "I know in the past you used to have a formal presentation..." and I stopped him there and said "Any time someone says 'We used to do it that way' just assume you can throw it out. " And sadly, aside from 1-2 things, that's true.

Sad, isn't it?

There's  a part of me that's angry that I didn't speak up sooner-- didn't make more noise.  But to be honest, it didn't get bad until the past few years.  And I'm not at the school all the time so how was I to know? 

But it has reiterated to me that it IS important to take a stand for what you believe in.  One person can make a huge difference in people's lives.  Our new principal has completely changed our school- the tone, the spirit.  Teachers who once dreaded coming to work are skipping.  My children are already engaged and excited-- not complaining about a summer past.  One of the mothers who made calls and canvassed said her daughter is loving reading and is excited about going to school.

One week.

One person.

Don't ever think you are just a drop in the bucket.  If you've ever spilled a drop of coffee on a pair of white pants, trust me, one drop can make a big splash.

Our new principal has made a gigantic, positive splash.  And the assistant principal as well- she seems equally as fantastic.

And I hope that's how the story ends.

No, actually, how I hope the story really ends is that every school has a faculty like we do- with schools serving as a central community fixture educating our children, incorporating parents, and focusing on developing the whole child.

We don't need children who can answer questions, we need children who can ask questions.

That will make me live happily ever after.





Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Twerking

I learned a new word this week-- twerk. 

I hope it's allowed in Words With Friends-- otherwise, it's just some useless trivia rattling in my brain.

Because honestly, I don't care.

I don't care the Miley Cyrus twerked.  And apparently did it badly.

It's MTVs Video Music Awards-- which is an ironic event unto itself because MTV does not even show videos any longer from what I can see.

They are, however, very engaged is showing Baby Mama shows and Rappers Being Awful to Everyone.

And Miley Cyrus is getting raked over the coals?

First of all, if you were over 21 and watched it live, I feel  very, very sorry for you.  Let it go.  Martha Quinn is not coming back.

Next, if you're worried about your children, here's an idea-- turn off the TV.

I watched the video because I believe I was legally obligated to do so.

I wasn't remotely offended.  I was disturbed.  It was weird.  The beige bikini looked awful. Her hair freaked me out.  She danced like crap.

AND I HATE THAT SONG WHICH IS SO INCREDIBLY OVERPLAYED IT MAKES ME VOMIT IN MY MOUTH EVERY TIME I HEAR IT.

Since I knew I clearly was losing my hipness (okay, I laughed out loud at that as I have never been hip... hippy yes, but not hip) I thought I should tune into MTV and see what other important issues- like twerking- that I was missing.  There was a show "Teen Mom 3" on.

Now that was offensive.

Teen girls who clearly do not speak English properly (he don't, she don't---- eeesh) and their loser boyfriends fight on TV.  They make having a baby look like so much fun!  All the kids should do it!

I am offended that adults put those children up to it and profit from it.  These kids clearly do not have any level of maturity even though they are parents.  And MTV is making a lot of money from it.

People should be complaining and raising a stink about that.  Not some washed up teen star having muscle spasms in her underwear (from the videos, I think that's what twerking is... I'm from Ohio... sometimes it takes me a little longer to pick up on these cool trends).

Oh- and what about the Wonderful World of Disney that creates these really, really bad teen actors/singers then disowns them once they become the trainwrecks that they are destined to become?

Can we talk about that? Have any Disney teenie boppers survived?

Grown-ups profiting from the kids.  How much more can we possibly autotune their voices and convince them that they can sing when they can't?

It's sad.

I'm not worried that Miley Cyrus is a bad role model for my daughter.  I know how the remote works.  I love that at 7 my daughter has commented that Taylor Swift only sings about break-ups with boys and she should date some nicer guys.  Seriously.  It cracked me up.

What I'm more worried about is that as adults, we've clearly been a bad role model for Miley Cyrus.  Who do you think made money off her all those years?  A bunch of "grown-ups."  And now she's a grown-up. Just like them.  Anything for a buck.

So no, Miley Cyrus did not shake the fabric of my morality by fornicating with foam phalanges.

I grew up with Madonna-- that was nothing.  That was just weird.  And bad. 

But I think we owe those kids who we use and exploit an apology.

And then we need to stop buying it.  Because we all know how the story ends- rehab, bankruptcy, a True Hollywood Story and a final accident.

 Shame on us.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Rules for When You Work for a Small Business

Congratulations! You just got a job working in a small business!

And by small business, I don't mean under $10 billion in assets, as we refer to it in the investment community, I mean a mom and pop place. Maybe it's the local dry cleaners, a plumbing supply store, a restaurant, an attorney or accountant's office-- a true small business where there's just a handful of employees. You didn't just get a job, you joined a family. And that's a good thing.

Small businesses are truly the backbone of the US. We are part of the community. We aren't going to close up shop and move overseas to save money because we work in the business, too. As a small business owner, however, I've noticed that one issue that I have had repeatedly with employees over the years is that they don't understand the differences between working for a large corporation and a small business. They are significant. There are pros and cons to each.

Before you accept that job as the receptionist at the local dentist, you might want to evaluate if it's a good fit.

#1- You Matter 
Small businesses can't afford to have back-ups to most jobs. If you're sick, you're missed. If you're lazy, it impacts everyone else. You truly matter. You aren't an employee ID number. You are an integral part to the business whether it be answering the phones or selling the product, your presence is far more important that it ever will be at a large corporation. You ARE the accounting department.

With that said, when times are tough, the business owner will more than likely do everything possible to make sure that you keep your job-- including taking on debt. Large corporations aren't going to do that. They like to do what I call "horizontal job enhancement"-- assign extra duties to others without increases in pay. Chances are in a small business, they are already running as lean as possible.

With that said, you absolutely cannot dial it in. You're going to have to work. We all have bad days, but when it's all up to you, you're going to have to pull it together and get the job done or you will be asked to leave.  Because I don't have 6 months to put you through a development program-- I could be out of business in 6 months if you don't pull it together. 

#2-Don't Complain About Your Pay 
Chances are the person who started this business did it on a shoestring. There are times that many of us don't take a draw or pay ourselves because we have to pay our employees first. We ate Ramen. Every dollar that goes into your pocket, came from ours. Truly. That is my child's college fund in your bank account so to speak. If it's going well now, it's because we worked hard. Very hard. If you are unhappy with your pay, leave. Or better yet, go start your own business.

 #3- Don't Tell Me How Things Should Be Done Unless You Actually Know 
A new, flashy sign would be great. It also costs $10,000. That may not be the top priority. Small business owners are usually looking for the best way to do things, without a doubt. But when these things cost money, the well is my wallet not a corporate coffer of billions. If it's a process thing, ask before you change something.

In my practice, for example, we make reminder calls the Wednesday the week before the meeting. We pre-schedule our appointments about 3 months in advance and people can forget or something comes up. I've had MANY assistants slack on this or try to convince me the day before is better. Then, when half my appointments cancel, I check and see when the calls were made. It is ALWAYS when this isn't done. And here's why-- most of my clients work. When they get home from work, they get their messages. I am more than likely already closed. I do my meeting prep work on Friday and Monday for my meetings the next week. If they call on Thursday or Friday, it saves everyone a lot of work from prepping for the meeting. It also frees up the time slot on my calendar if someone else needs to schedule. If they no-show or call the morning of because something came up at work, now I've wasted your time pulling reports, my time preparing and we have a dead spot on the calendar that someone else could have filled.

In other words, there's usually a reason for doing something- ask first. But don't be afraid to ask.

#4- If you are Assigned a Task, Do It 
This seems obvious, but it's been an issue in the past. Because it's a small business, people are often more polite. The business owner doesn't have time to watch you do something or to follow up three or four times. You were hired to do a job. Do it.

In a small business, the owner is often a "technician"-- they aren't just a figurehead in an office-- they are out in the streets drumming up business or doing the professional task (accounting, law, etc).  They don't have time be the manager and watch your every move. 

Also, there are no tasks too small.  I just had someone tell me "I'm not fulfilled by filing."  Seriously?  No one is.  I'm not fulfilled by refilling the coffee pot either, but if it's empty I do it.   I also used to vacuum. Get over it.

#5- Care
This seems silly, I know, but you need to care.  The owner started this business because they saw a need-- it was something he or she believed in.  If you don't believe in it, you should leave.  Our businesses are our children.  Don't talk smack about our children-- we can, you can't.

#6- And Speaking of Children...
There's a very good chance my children might be your boss some day.  It may not be especially fair, either.  All those hours that I spent away from my children were spent in my business.  They earned the right to inherit it.  If you WANT to run the business let the owner know.  I've seen a lot of a good people get pushed aside so Junior can run the company.  Know that that's a possibility going in.  There's a good shot Junior doesn't want it, but if he or she does, they often get first dibs.

#7-Don't Take Advantage
The owner is going to get to know you.  They are going to care about your well-being.  Don't take advantage of it.  Of course, they are going to let you go to the dentist.  I even had an employee have a near break down when she asked to leave early on a Friday and I said okay-- she added in a panicked voice- after I had said yes-- "It's to get my hair done!"  I started laughing and told her that was fine.  So once a month, she left early on Friday to get her hair done.  But she never scheduled anything else during work hours.  Doctors, dentists, hairdressers-- they are all hard to schedule.  A small business gives you more flexibility, so don't abuse it.  If your kid is sick and you need time off, a small business owner understands.

#8- Long Term Employees are Like Family
You may not know that Bob the salesman helped the owner through rehab or worked without pay those first few months.  If someone has been there a long time, assume there is a reason.  If they are slacking, find out why before you say anything.  Because, quite honestly, they wouldn't still be there (see #1).  And more importantly, some day you may be Bob and the same courtesy will be afforded to you.

Also, keep in mind that like families, you are going to get on each others' nerves.  There is no place to escape when there are only a few employees.  You're going to have to learn to work through it.  Those will also be the people that have your back, too.

#9- Don't Steal
Sounds silly again, I know.  Those pencils? I  bought them.  It's not some giant corporation that has millions assigned to office supplies.  Most small business owners don't care if you use the fax machine, the copier or need something.  Just ask first.  It's not yours.  Would you like the owner to show up at your house and start eating from the refrigerator?  Probably not.

#10- Go Easy on the Office Equipment
This is a pet peeve of mine.  I went through three shredders in one year.  I've had mine for 5 years.  I know they jam, but here's a thought-- don't put 15 pages in with staples.  I may have even pointed that out....or written it down. 

The feeder in my scanner is perpetually broken because people have yanked papers out mid-scan.  It's not commercial grade.  It costs money to fix or replace.  The stapler... the coffee maker... "Oh, by the way, that's broken..."  I just hear "Cha-ching."  Yes, things break, but over the years, I've learned that for some reason people don't treat the work equipment the same as if it were theirs.  In a small business, treat it like you own it-- or better.

So that's my list of things to know before taking that new, great job.  I've had employees stay for a long time and others that don't make it through the year.  A small business can provide you with many opportunities.  Some may even let you create your own career path.  I personally feel that the benefits far outweigh the items listed above.  For some people, however, they like having a lot of people around and the ability to blend into the woodwork.  You can't do that in a small business.

What you can do is stand out.  You can have a direct impact on something.  You can feel appreciated.  You are important no matter how small your job.

You will never be consider "just" an employee or overhead.  And in today's world, that's a good thing.