Don’t Look Back in Anger

Back when I was unceremoniously downsized (with four days’ severance! And only because I made a point of asking for it!) from the last company that I was working at, I wasn’t all that terribly scared.  The environment in that office was toxic and stifling and this was the last sign I needed that the CEO who’d been all nice and cheery when trying to convince me to work with him was really a total dickbag. So, I was glad to be getting away. I was exhausted with the idea of going through LinkedIn and Indeed but I knew how to do it and I got it done. A week and a half into my search I had an offer from a place that was managed by two awesome women and I’d also gotten really good vibes when I’d been into the office to meet with them. After applying for around 70 jobs, and a couple of other great interviews, I formally accepted the offer and started last Monday. It’s temp-to-perm which is a bit frightening but I have faith that it should go perm pretty fast (fingers crossed). There’s also a woman at a start-up fighting to a new role approved and to hire me, but you never know what’s going to happen at a start-up so we’ll see.

There was a bag of a few things that I’d left at my former job that I needed to pick up. When I emailed the woman who I was supposed to be taking over (she’s a total idiot) for about picking it up, she said we should “grab a bite.” I told her thanks but I needed to come long after lunch time. What did I really want to say? “No fucking way, you asshole.”

I was really mad for a while that I’d let the promise of more opportunity, a bigger workload, and more money cloud my vision and allow myself to be recruited away from a job that I truly loved at a company that I truly adored. But you know what? I would’ve stayed at the job (that I was recruited to) out of principle and I probably would’ve been miserable. So, getting downsized was probably the best thing that could’ve happened. I had to make room in my life for a better job to come along and that was done for me.

There’s no job that’s worth being unhappy for. A larger paycheck is nice but if you’re unhappy or bored, I don’t think it’s worth it. The old way of life when you have a job for 30, or even 5(!), years is over. You work somewhere, learn all you can, and move on for more opportunity. Your job shouldn’t be your life, but I don’t think it’s worth any paycheck if it makes you miserable either.

Whether you’re laid off or you quit, have faith that you’re making space for something different, and probably better. 

I spent the better part of a year working for a company called Flavorpill Media and I loved it. I loved the people and I loved the mission. It was really hard to be recruited away but they offered me more opportunity to grow and more money (though the money was only 10% of why I accepted). Flavorpill launched their newest product, a personal development site called EverUp, this week and in honor of it, they hosted a bunch of really cool seminars. 

I went to the 8am seminar at Flavorpill HQ about the ROI of Mindfulness. I’d seen most of this presentation before but it was expanded and even more awesome. Jesse Israel, founder of The Big Quiet, talked to us about his career (he left the record label that he started while at NYU that signed MGMT) and how he got into doing what he’s doing now before he lead us through an awesome meditation. I was interviewed after having been the one who started the meditation breaks at Flavorpil during my time there and being that I was a regular meditator.

After a quick chat with Jesse and saying goodbyes to my old colleagues, I headed over to WeWork on East 28th for a seminar on how to “pivot your career” giving by an awesome woman named Jenny Blake. She spent 5 years in Silicon Valley working for Google and after taking her sabbatical, she decided to quit to up and move to New York City. Everyone, of course, called her crazy. She’s working on her second book and is sometimes a career coach.

We filled out some worksheets, generated some ideas, and we had an awesome time. She also gave some super interesting and possibly startling (for employers) stats:

  • 83% of people want to get a new job in the next year.
  • Four to five years is the tenure for someone at their company.
  • 25% of people are looking for new jobs because of money.
  • 45% are looking because they see no growth, feel under appreciated, and they want to work somewhere where they can have a visible impact on the company.
  • The career ladder is gone. 

She said change nowadays is the only constant. When employers ask her what they can do to incentivize their employees to stay for more than a year or two, she says they can’t and they need to accept that. It helped to hear that what I’ve been going through is the new norm – even if that new norm is kind of tricky to deal with sometimes. I think it’s probably a better trait to be flexible and able to deal with change than being miserable in a job you hate because it pays you well. Money can only buy you so much.

I chatted with her after and asked her advice about something specific before saying goodbyes to more former colleagues and continuing on to lunch with Ben at Eisenberg’s (tasty food, crap service). 

These seminars couldn’t have come along at a better time and I am so, so thankful for them. 

It’s been one week.

So, it’s been a long week. At the end of the day on Monday, my boss called me into his office and told me that my position was being downsized. I’d been hired to be a finance and operations liaison to support a merger of two marketing companies on opposite coasts. When the west coast company went out of business (semi-unexpectedly?) two weeks ago, I knew my place at the company was up in the air. Honestly, it wasn’t the best fit for me, culture-wise, but I learned a lot (like how to work with someone who’s really difficult) and I had two really good interviews last week, I applied for a lot of jobs, and I met with a dozen or so recruiters and I’m continuing to do so this week. Luckily my dude is really fantastic at prepping for interviews, so he’s helping me a lot on that front. 

It’ll all be okay.

I saw a friend at an event on Tuesday  night and she didn’t hesitate one bit when she heard I’d be downsized and she invited me to a networking event that was at the ungodly hour of 7am on Thursday. It was a good experience and I made a bunch of connections.

Thursday evening consisted of a quick and easy dinner (grilled chicken, mashed sweet potatoes, garlic sautéed broccoli) and The Walking Dead and Mockingjay Part 1 with Justin. My new glasses were also delivered. They’re cute.

After a day of being productive, I went on Friday night I went to YogaWorks for a Teacher Training Class & Info Session with a woman who taught the very first class I ever took at YogaWorks. It was really interesting and although I’m not in a position to spend $3400 on it right now, it’s definitely something to consider in the future. I’m not sure I ever want to teach yoga. I’m simply interested in deepening my practice. 

Needless to say, I spent the rest of the evening glued to my computer reading updates about the massacres in Paris. So, so sad. Religion is the worst. All religions. They all need to be put to rest. 

I finally made it to my early morning yoga class on Saturday for the first time in what felt like forever and got my ass kicked. Most of Saturday was spent doing a lot of nothing, but I rallied and wandered downtown to visit Washington Square Park where I’d heard there had been rallies earlier in the day. The mayor’s office was planning to light the arch in the park blue, white, and red, which I thought was awesome. The Empire State Building stayed dark on Saturday night in solidarity with the Eiffel Tower. 

Afterwards I saw Fool For Love (review to come!) before meeting up with Justin and one of his good friends for drinks at a favorite spot of ours, Anejo, in Hell’s Kitchen. Sunday was spent relaxing, watching Real Time with Bill Maher, and later on a trip downtown again to get my glasses fitted at Warby Parker and a late lunch at The Copper Still while my eyes glazed over during the Giants+Patriots game. (I seriously do not get football, but I was more than happy to support Justin and eat some delicious noms.)

It’s been an unexpected week, but not an entirely shitty one. Here’s hoping things progress to be even better this week. 

Jobs, or something.

When I was taking (by accident) a class called “The Business of Acting” in college, I remember the professor saying, “I know they say life is short, but actually life is fucking long. You will do a ton of different jobs in your life.” She could not have predicted that she would end up as a casting director and a part time college professor when she was studying theatre at Emerson. 

This week I saw my therapist for the first time in about a month and a half. We’d had some scheduling conflicts and then I went away and now I’m back, so I emailed him and I finally made it to his office. 

We talked about the main issues I have and finally after we were done sorting that shit out, he said, “So what’s your main concern at this time?” and after I told him, he said, “This is just my opinion and I’m not trying to force this on you, but I think we should look into you being a little more ambitious career-wise.“ My first thought was, “Why do I have to have a career? Can’t I just have a job that supports my life?”

He said that he saw that I was so concerned with finding a job that I didn’t feel like I was constantly going to be let go from that I didn’t actually care what the job was. This was, in part, right. I like my job a lot right now – I’m learning a lot and there’s a lot of work to do so I’m not bored. And my boss is really nice. He’s such a pleasure to work for.

At Job A, I liked the work – I was good at it. I had a really good groove going. But I got to the office at 8am and left around 6 or 7pm. I was really burnt out. And I was making next to no money. But hey, that’s show business.

So, I left that job when I was offered Job B doing something completely different (though still numbers oriented) though I was stupid and desperate and took it at the same salary. Hey, I got a ton of comp tickets and the company was pretty fun to work for. It ended up not being a good fit for me, or the company, though so I was laid off and immediately started Job C. 

Job C was great – it was a fun company, I was good at the job (basically the same job as at Job A), and I was actually contributing to the business in meaningful ways through the HR side of things. I also got a $10k raise. This was nice. I got to learn the HR side of things and that was awesome. I really liked that. However I saw the company’s books all the time and things were ehhhh business-wise. They tried to keep up morale but I didn’t think things were going very well. I was also bored. Because we didn’t have a ton of business, I didn’t have a ton of work. I was so, so bored.

So when a recruiter contact me on LinkedIn and I had two phone interviews and one in-person interview for Job D (which was more or less the same as Job’s A and B), and they were offering yet another $10k raise, I said yes. It was really, really hard to leave Job C but I did. I’m at Job D now and really liking it. As I said, my boss is really great and my colleagues are all really nice. They are always signing new clients, which means more work for me, which is awesome. No boredom, score!

But there’s always that twinge of “am I going to be able to keep this job?” My therapist told me that I do not have qualities of someone who should have these fears as I am extremely diligent and have no problem finding jobs. So, yes, he’s probably right about me needing to figure out what I want to do. 

Luckily for me, my boyfriend is really good at career planning and being goal-oriented so I’m making some lists on my own and then we’re diving head first this weekend in trying to figure out what would make me happy. Money doesn’t make me fully happy. My last two raises have been great, but money isn’t everything. I’ve never been close to poverty (I sound like an asshole saying that but it’s better than pretending otherwise) so maybe I take it for granted. I see people at jobs they hate making tons of money and I just don’t think it’s worth it. When is the paycheck ever going to be big enough for you? If money is all you strive for, you’re going to be endlessly striving for more and then what? Money is nice, but happiness, overall, is nicer.

You know what makes me fully happy? Meditating. And leading meditations. I’m going to look into studying with an actual teacher. And I’m going to give yoga teacher training an actual thought. I never thought I was the right personality for it, but I’ve had some teachers over the years who are a lot like me, so maybe I’m wrong. What would also make me happier would be brushing up on my accounting and Quickbooks skills. I put out an email about that yesterday.

Fingers crossed I can eventually figure it out. 

And fittingly enough, there’s a perfect John Lennon quote for this: “When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life. When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I wrote down ‘happy’. They told me I didn’t understand the assignment, and I told them they didn’t understand life.

Be the light: check.

I’m in charge of HR and team building at my new-ish (I’ve been there for a month and a half already) job and one of the first things I talked to the CEO and co-founder about was a mini mid-day meditation break. The CEO is huge into meditation, mindfulness, yoga, etc. It was something that I made sure to bring up in my second interview with him when I was asked to come back in. 

So, I sent out an invite on Wednesdays and Fridays at 2pm for a mini 5 minute meditation break. Yes, I know, it’s tough to drag yourself away from whatever you’re doing in the middle of the day, but trust me it’s worth it.

Last Wednesday the CEO told me I’d lead the meditation. Although I’ve been meditating regularly for almost two years, I’d never led a meditation. But whatever: It’s only five minutes. And five minutes is really a blip.

So we all sat down in one of our conference rooms and I regurgitated a lot of what I’d heard from teachers in my yoga classes and meditation workshops. I felt like kind of a fraud. But after five minutes had passed, everyone felt better. Less stressed. They thanked me, told me it was awesome, and the CEO gave me a high five. 

And today I walked into the office to find a colleague burning sage to get rid of a smell, and also to, you know, clear the energy. I asked if I could borrow the sage for my apartment and she said to ask the CEO, because it was really the office’s sage. My office has it’s own sage. I died. The CEO gave me the OK and it’s in my apartment now.

Another colleague told me about an hour-long Monday morning meditation group and that I should totally come next week.

Needless to say: I am so, so happy with my decision to work at this company. I’d been waiting to hear about jobs with huge companies like Disney Theatrical Group when I got this job offer and I’m so glad I didn’t wait. I actually like working at a smaller company.

Especially a smaller company that encourages meditation and sage-burning.

I found out I was getting laid off about six weeks ago. It wasn’t something that was totally unexpected, but my bosses admitted that they’d made a mistake and needed to hire somebody with more experience who they didn’t need to teach advanced digital marketing to. They were eliminating my position entirely. Okay, fine. I got it and I was kind of relieved. I’d been stressed out and working my ass off to try to get to the level they needed.

Then I freaked out. The first thought was: I needed to find another job, and quickly. The second thought to pop into my head: do I really want to stay working in theatre? I wasn’t positive, but part of me was saying no. I was tired of working for what felt like zero dollars and feeling like the whole world was crashing down around my colleagues and I whenever the smallest mistake was made. To be blunt: there was never an instance where what we were doing was saving lives. Ever. Period. Yet I always found myself being stressed as fuck about my work load. (As per usual in theatre, we had about 14 times as much work as we could handle.) 

We were selling tickets to Broadway shows. That’s IT. I thought about why I worked in theatre and it was because I liked the fun work environment and the free tickets. But the more I thought about it I admitted that the work environment wasn’t that fun and I could afford to buy TDF tickets to shows (and I still have a valid student ID too!) if I had a job that paid me what I was worth. And while it’s fun to get comps to shows, it’s more fun to love your job and be good at it.

But just for the hell of it, I still applied for a few theatre jobs here and there. Through a reference I got an interview right away at a very small general management company who needed a new bookkeeper. The woman I interviewed with was disheveled and said she thought her current bookkeeper was an idiot because she asked questions. I knew right there that this wasn’t the boss for me. She also looked at my address on my resume and asked, “Whoa. Are you rich?” Excuse me?. She said she paid her current bookkeeper $30k but could maybe offer me $35k but no benefits. HAHA. Nope. Sorry. Like I said, I was done undervaluing myself and this woman was batshit insane.

The next gem of a person that I ran into at an interview was a woman that couldn’t even be bothered to meet me in person. She was a seasoned talent agent who was striking out on her own and she needed an assistant. We were on a phone call and towards the end when I asked about benefits, she said, “Oh no, I don’t. There are a lot of people out there who would really want this job and they’re on Obamacare. I have to run my business as I feel comfortable.” This is also known as an internship, or slave labor. 

This is common practice on Broadway. There are so many people wanting to work for these companies that they don’t need to offer benefits or a livable salary. During my hunt, I was talking to a good friend who’s a pretty successful company manager, and occasional general manager, and he said, “You know I used to think that people who left working in theatre couldn’t hack it but then I just realized they’d just smartened up to it.” And another friend who occasionally raises money for shows told me, “Broadway will always be there. You can always go back.”

In the end I found a company that really excites me and a role within that company that utilizes my skill set. It’s not theatre, but it’s all about promoting culture in the city. The workspace and people are awesome. And I’m making a way better salary than I would’ve been elsewhere. The photo above is the view right behind where I sit. Not too shabby.

So I’d love to hear about your experiences working in theatre. Let me know!?

Here’s a proposal!

image

Hear me out. But know that I wrote this in a moment of utter disappointment and despair earlier this evening:

I don’t think there’s an industry that pays worse than entertainment, specifically theatre. I make a decent salary but no where near where I would be doing the same thing in another industry. I’m frustrated because I began realizing today that the opportunity to make Real Living Wage is getting smaller and smaller (and it’s probably my shrunk fractionally by the time you’ve finished reading this sentence).  You know why this is? Supply is low and demand is way. too. high. I’ve known people to take assistant jobs starting at $18k.

People, friends, colleagues: we are worth more than that.

Anyone see how high ticket prices are nowadays? $400+ for a premium seat? If the stage hand gets to earn $500 whenever he mops the stage, surely the industry can afford to pay the “little guys” more too.

The only way to really bring about change is if they couldn’t find anyone to work for $25k-$30k. What could we all do in the meantime? Work at jobs that paid a lot more and didn’t require a 60 hour week, so we’d have the time (and, uh, money) to express ourselves creatively outside work and eventually (hopefully) parlay that into a full time job that we love.

Is this a fantasy? Yes. Probably. No one would ever leave their full time (highly underpaid) job in theatre for a job in something like a job in finance to prove a point. Not in this city. I just wanted to plant a seed.

every new beginning comes from some other beginnings end.

I spend a lot of time worrying about stupid shit. I’m definitely going to die of a fatal disease even though I know I’m 100% healthy. My teeth are going to fall out of my gums at any second even though I haven’t had a cavity in over three years. And I’m definitely, definitely, definitely going to never find a job I’m good at and I’m going to eventually go broke.

I started sending out letters and applying for real full-time jobs again in early/mid-November, and when I hadn’t even gotten so much as an interview after one week, I got all Hannah-esque from Girls, “I am unfit for any and all paying jobs!

Well, thankfully, that’s not true.

I had five or six interviews in the last 2-3 weeks and ended up being offered three great jobs last week. I took the one that I thought would be a challenge, was 100% concerning numbers, and was at what many people said was an AWESOME company to work for. Another job wouldn’t have been challenging at all and choosing it definitely would’ve been playing it safe (and boring), and while the third job was at another awesome company working with a powerhouse ass-kicking woman, the pay was just too low.

The above picture is from last Wednesday after I’d negotiated a salary and accepted one of those three job offers. I went to my old haunt on West 57th Street to visit some old coworkers. I told them I’d accepted a job offer and we found whatever tequila was currently being housed in their freezer and toasted. So, in exactly one week I will start a new job that will put my strengths (numbers, spreadsheets, and organization) to work, and I’m excited (and also scared). Wish me luck.

What I Did With My Holiday Weekend

I spent two days this holiday weekend helping out an old friend and manager and revisiting the job that I had for most of college: Broadway merchandise.

After venturing to suburban PA for a few days to see family friends and eat a lot, I had no huge plans and I knew I wasn’t planning on making any so why not make a little extra cash before the holidays?

I worked with another friend at Evita on Saturday night and during the day on Sunday and I was as good at it now as I was then. I can still convince people to buy things they don’t need or could definitely get cheaper elsewhere without much trouble at all.

I worked at a number of shows in college as you can see below (I plan on having a quilt made out of these… eventually):

(Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Die, Mommy, Die!, The Wedding Singer, Mamma Mia, Ring of Fire, Wicked, A Bronx Tale, The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee, The Drowsy Chaerone, The Seafarer, Curtains, The Lion King, Is He Dead?, The Country Girl, Macbeth, and Spamalot)

While taking this picture, I realized I had a ton of Spelling Bee and Lion King t-shirts. I have no idea why. Would I want this to be my full time gig again? No way. I like so much having my nights free (it also doesn’t pay THAT much).  Unlike a number of my friends, I’ve always loved having a day job.

But was it fun to revisit for a couple of days? Totally. And I also got to pick out, wear, and keep this awesome, kind of cheeky shirt (which, if I hadn’t taken it in the mirror would easily read – Star Quality):