Archive for November, 2008

A Working Girl Cocktail Conundrum

Sunday, November 30th, 2008

So we had a little cocktail-making event on Thanksgiving Day. 

The idea was that we’d create a Working Girl Cocktail.  It had to be pink, natch.  But not sweet!  WG likes pink but she is not into the sweet stuff.  She’s a bit on the tart side.  (Tart flavors, she’s not A Tart.)

Anyway, the Guest In Charge Of The Cocktails provided this recipe and everyone thought it was perfect for WG:

  • 4 fresh strawberries
  • 1 part vodka
  • 2 t superfine sugar
  • 5 oz. pineapple juice
  • 7-Up
  • mint springs

Blend strawberries, vodka, sugar, and pineapple juice (at this point we overtaxed the blender and flooded the kitchen counter & floor with sticky cocktail mix, but that’s what the holidays are about, right?).  Pour this mixture (what didn’t spill) into attractive glasses.  Top with 7-Up.  Garnish with mint.

Perfect!  Pink and not too sweet.  The problem is that this recipe was created for the Bond film Casino Royale.  Working Girl can’t just steal it outright, can she?  Well? 

We considered using cranberry juice instead of pineapple.  Five strawberries instead of four.  Cilantro instead of mint.  Honey instead of sugar??

The evening ended with this dilemma unsolved.  Yummy drinks, though. 

Hey, Thanks

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Here’s a rerun from last Thanksgiving’s column (next year it won’t be a rerun anymore–it’ll be a tradition!):

Big four-day weekend coming up!  At least, Working Girl hopes you are looking forward to four whole days off in a row.  That’s something to be grateful for.

If you don’t have four days off, she hopes you at least like your job. 

If you don’t have four days off and don’t like your job, she hopes you’re earning enough to live on.

If you don’t have four days off, don’t like your job, and you’re not earning enough to live on, she hopes it’s because you’ve chosen a low-paying job as an interim thing and are looking forward to something better.

If you don’t have four days off, don’t like your job, you’re not earning enough to live on, and you’re not looking forward to something better, she hopes you have just now figured out you need to chart a new path for yourself.  Start Monday!

Meanwhile, freak people out.  Thank your coworkers for working with you.  Thank your boss for employing you.  Thank your family for being your family.  Sit up and look around for other things to be grateful for.  For example, if you’re reading this, your heart is beating, your eyes are working, you know how to read, and you have Internet access.  That’s a start.  Bet you have other things to feel good about, too.  

See you in four days.  Oh, and thanks for reading!

Gratitude Good For Your Job Security

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

US World and News ReportsAlmost sounds like a headline from The Onion, but it’s not, it’s a perfectly serious little post over at U.S. News & World Report today all about how it might be very worth your while to say “thank you” to your boss.

Anyway, it’s the season of gratitude, isn’t it?  And it can’t hurt.

Speaking of which, thanks for reading!  And have a great Thanksgiving.

Boldly Admit Your Defects, And Win

Sunday, November 23rd, 2008

This is long but our Internet connection seems to be working at the moment, so here goes……

Working Girl’s book group book this month was Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s (it was a novella before it was a movie).

In it, Capote gave career advice, if in a slightly misogynistic way:

[in this passage he’s talking about Mag Wildwood, one of the book’s minor characters] “She was a triumph over ugliness, so often more beguiling than real beauty, if only because it contains paradox.  In this case, as opposed to the scrupulous method of plain good taste and scientific grooming, the trick had been worked by exaggerating defects; she’d made them ornamental by admitting them boldly.  Heels that emphasized her height, so steep her ankles trembled; a flat tight bodice tht indicated she could go to a beach in bathing trunks; hair that was pulled straight back, accentuating the spareness, the starvation of her fashion-model face.  Even the stutter, certainly genuine but still a bit laid on, had been turned to advantage.  It was the master stroke, that stutter; for it contrived to make her banalities sound somehow original, and secondly, despite her tallness, her assurance, it served to inspire in male listeners a protective feeling.”

Okay, so Truman didn’t exactly like Mag.   

But his idea that we can take our weaknesses and turn them into advantages is inspiring.  In this example, the “faults” are physical.  But the trick applies at work, too.

The best example Working Girl can think of at the moment comes from her own life.  She’s done a lot of freelance editing and writing.  One day she was interviewing with a potential new client. 

“These documents concern marine habitat and oil spills,” said the client.

“Oh.” said WG.

“Do you have any background in these areas?”

“Not really.  Who is your audience for these documents?”

“The public.”

“So you need the documents to be easily understandable to the lay reader?” asked WG.

“Yeah.”

“That’s great!  It’s actually an advantage that I don’t know too much about your subject area,” WG said.  “I will do a better job of editing them for your audience.”

“What you’re saying is that your main qualification for the job is that you don’t know anything,” said the client (kinda sarcastically).

“Exactly!  I’m your ideal reader.  If I don’t understand the text, then the public won’t either.”

Long story short:  WG got the assignment.  Her “weakness” was, in this situation, actually a strength.

What do you think?  Can you think of any other cases where a shortcoming actually turned out to be an advantage? 

Huge Internet-Eating Moles…

Saturday, November 22nd, 2008

…have attacked the vast grounds of the Working Girl estate.

At least that’s what we think is the cause of the major–and majorly annoying–Internet problems of the past few days.  Am hastening to post during these few brief minutes while it seems to be working.

Meanwhile, keep your eye on news from Seattle and pray those moles don’t spread to your neighborhood.

Layoffs: What To Watch For

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

US World and News ReportsIt’s not time to panic, jobwise, but it is time to pay close attention to what’s happening at work. 

For the nine biggest signs, scoot over to WG’s regular Wednesday post on U.S. News & World Report.  Forewarned is, as they say, forearmed…..

When They Ask For Your Salary History

Tuesday, November 18th, 2008

You are looking for a job.  The economy is teetering.  You feel a teensy bit anxious.  Or a lot anxious.

You might conclude all this puts you in a weak position with potential employers.  You may feel you have no choice but to knuckle under to their intrusive demands and arcane policies.

Especially that intrusive-ist and arcane-ist interview request of all:

Please tell us your salary history.

As you know, class, we’ve covered this subject before:

Still, it’s a tough issue to deal with.  That’s why you’ll enjoy reading Nick Corcodilos’s recent post on one woman’s very smart & savvy approach to employers who ask for her salary history. 

Inspiring! 

Learn To Persuade From Obama

Monday, November 17th, 2008

Interesting insight from Richard Nordquist’s Grammar & Composition Blog on “Obama’s Secret for Stirring a Crowd.”

One of his secrets:  He uses the “rule of three.”

Meaning, that when he gives examples he always gives three of them and he always starts them with the same word(s).  It’s pleasurable.  It’s hypnotic.  It’s effective.

Job interview coming up?  You can use this same tool.  Say a prospective boss asks, “Why do you want this job?” 

You might say, “I want this job because I respect what your company is doing in the field of X, because I feel I can make some real contributions to X, and because to me it’s the natural next step in my career.”

Three is the perfect number–enough to feel substantive but not so many that the interviewer boggles or gets bored.  Starting each example with the same word (e.g., “because”) makes it easy for your listener to follow your train of thought.

You can use the “rule of three” a LOT without people noticing that you are always naming three examples.  All they will notice is how pleasant it is to listen to and understand you.

Useful Tool, If You're On Twitter

Friday, November 14th, 2008

Working Girl trying out Twitter.  Just found “Twittonary.” 

Too twee for a post? 

But it’s so tweet! 

(Sorry.)

Finding Your Dream Job Takes Work

Friday, November 14th, 2008

A cry for help from another Karen, this one in Canada:

I am sooooo lost.  Let me begin with telling you what my life is right now.  Maybe that will help with the soon to come advice.

I have a 1 year old.  I am currently a stay at home mom except for the few shifts I pick up here and there at my previous employer.  I was in school taking Production Art, when I found out I was pregnant.  Unfortunately I was unable to finish before I had my daughter, but I did go back to school when she was only 3 months old.  I graduated and found a job after 2 months of looking.  Then after 3 months of work in my new career, realized that I hated my job.  I began getting bad stomach ulcers and decided to quit and try to figure out what my “real” calling was.  But after being out of full time work now for 6 months and doing nothing but raising a child, I have completely lost any idea of what I want, who I am, and where I am going other than motherhood. 

I think I just need some help figuring out how to figure it all out.  Lol.

Dear Karen from Canada,

You’re in a time of great flux.  Having a baby and starting a new career are two big projects, and you tried to do them together!  So it’s not surprising that maybe it didn’t go as smoothly as you might have hoped.

And there’s nothing like having a baby to make you rethink your life.  What you are going through right now is perfectly normal.

So, okay, it’s re-evaluation time!  Why don’t you start by making some lists?  Lists are great.  You take all the thoughts/fears/worries that are whirling around in your head and put them in words.  Once they’re on paper they will feel more manageable, guaranteed.

First, sit down and list the reasons you got into Production Art in the first place.  What attracted you to it?

Second, list the ways in which it fell short.  What didn’t you like about it?

Once you have these two lists, decide which reasons are related to the specific work itself and which relate to lifestyle.  For example, a work reason might be you love creating art or you love working with Photoshop (assuming this is what you do in “Production Art”).  A lifestyle reason might be that you like being with creative types or that you appreciate not having to dress up every day.  Also, and this is important, list the reasons you didn’t like PA that were specific to your former job (like, your boss was a nut or the commute took two hours).

Study these lists.  Talk about them.  Show them to friends or, preferably, someone who can be a mentor to you.  (Don’t have a mentor?  Now is the time to find one!  Or two.  Or five.  Check out this post.  And this one.)

Basically, what you are trying to do is to identify work where you do stuff you love in an environment you love–i.e., your Dream Job.  This is a huge project!  You don’t always discover what your Dream Job is right off the bat.  Once you know what your Dream Job is, you don’t always attain it right away.  Most of the time we don’t, actually.  It takes time.  It takes trial and error.  Which is where you’re at right now. 

You don’t need to feel bad that you are still looking.  The important thing is that you are looking.  And that you keep on looking.  Come to think of it, here’s another post from not too long ago on this same topic.

Good luck.  You will find your way.  Meanwhile, give that one year old a big hug from Working Girl!