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Motivation By Pizza Is Craptastic Management

Angry Pizza

I’m here to motivate you.

What moves you to do your best work? To be your best self?

Does it come from an internal drive built on pride and desire for improvement?

Or does it come from appreciation, encouragement, and kudos from people around you? Maybe it’s the promise of a reward. A couple recent studies seem to indicate that pizza and a kind word from the boss provide the motivation we need to be fully engaged and awesome.

If we’re to take this research seriously, then it appears we have come to put a greater weight on outside, extrinsic motivation

Sorry, but that’s screwed up.

But it’s understandable. We’ve been trained into this mindset since childhood. From parents, teachers, and other adults, we heard such things as:
“You’re such a smart girl”
“I’m proud of you.”
“That was great work.”
“Here’s your gold star.”

From these seemingly innocent statements, we gradually learned that our goodness and value came from someone or somewhere else. So unless you were a little hell raising rebel who gave society the middle finger, you likely spent a good bit of time to seek out and earn praise from people we saw as authority figures. (Full confession: I was a born pleaser so I fell hard into the latter category.)

We’re grown up now, but has anything changed? Do we still not chase extrinsic rewards in the form of job approval, public accolades, and awards? Do we still not chase those digital white rabbits of clicks, followers, and likes?

When were we ever taught to take charge of recognizing our own value and claiming it with both hands?

The problem is that when we wait for those extrinsic rewards before we feel we can claim our value, we may find ourselves hanging out there for a long time with little to show for it.

And that’s what’s wrong with the modern workplace. All to often, we expect (demand?) to find our happiness there or else it’s a shitty organization. I’m not saying you don’t work in a shitty organization but in the process of playing the waiting game, we put our happiness and sense of value in the hands of others. And some of these folks may not deserve such an honor.

We are now at an inflection point in the modern history of work. If we want to be happy and fulfilled and fully embrace the soul of our work, we have to go get it ourselves. Waiting patiently while hoping for a pat on the head or the promise of pizza from the boss can no longer cut it.

Understandably, we’re all human so we do desire some degree of extrinsic motivation and appreciation. We want to know that others see and hear us. But it becomes unhealthy when that desire becomes all-consuming and tunes out what our inner voice says.

If we want to be happy in our work, it starts inside each of us. We need to start learning how to say:
“I’m proud of the effort I put into this project.”
“I know that my work has value”
“I love who I am.”

And if we want more fulfilling workplaces, it has to start by helping each of our employees recognize their own value first…then openly appreciating that value second.

Your play:
Stop waiting for someone else to provide your motivation and define your value. What will you do in the next seven days to claim your best self?

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Clean Beds And A Lesson In Pricing

It’s tough not to get hung up on cost isn’t it? In particular, we marketers can get caught up in what our competition is selling their wares for and get a twinge of anxiety. Are we selling for the right price? What if someone else has found out how to do the same thing cheaper?

All this ignores what’s really important, however. And that’s the distinct difference between cost and value. To illustrate, here’s what happened to our family over the Thanksgiving holiday. We decided to make the 1000+ mile road trip from Austin to Virginia. The driving was great (we left Austin the weekend prior to Thanksgiving and started our return on Black Friday – thanks folks for shopping instead of driving). What was not so great were the cheap accommodations we went with along the way.

See, we didn’t intentionally choose cheap motels, but went with them because these are the ones that openly label themselves as “pet friendly”. The trip to Virginia, we went with a La Quinta which was serviceable. Not terribly clean but not terribly dirty either. The particular Red Roof Inn we went with on the way back to Austin was far less than okay (which is being rather charitable). Even though we had a nonsmoking room, the sheets reeked of nicotine. We were tired and accepted it, thinking its just for one night. At 3am, my oldest daughter woke us up and complained that her bed was giving her asthma problems and she was having trouble breathing. Well heck, if I’m awake at 3am I might as well pack us up and finish the drive…and that’s what we did.

My purpose to this story isn’t to pile on either La Quinta or Red Roof Inn. I’ve stayed in some nice ones. And I’m fully aware we should have changed rooms and mentioned it to the front desk. That’s on us. My purpose is to show that having the lowest price isn’t always the main selling point. Think we got any value out of that cheap room when we only stayed until 3am? Nope. I would have paid double to have a good night sleep.

So instead of engaging in that race to the bottom which is inevitable in any pricing war, think about value and what your target customers value in your product or service. Message to what problems you solve and how that value makes you the clear choice. It’s very likely that clean sheets and a soft pillow will beat out a cheap price to a weary traveler.

photo credit: Chrispitality via Flickr

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A Note From One Work Seeker to Another

I’m noticing a lot of blogposts, articles, and other resources focused on the jobhunt, as if the reason why is a great mystery. Yep, the current recession is putting many folks (myself included) into the growing legions of unemployed professionals. I was let go from my own full-time gig last month. This isn’t my first foray into this territory, which in some ways is comforting. If this happens to be your first time out of work or if it’s been a while since your last time, hopefully I can offer some suggestions to help you deal with this experience. These are more related to your emotional well-being since this can quickly become one of the casualties of unemployment. At the end of this post, I’ll toss out some of my favorite links on how to navigate the process of getting your next best gig.

Know and trust your value.
Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean you have little value. There are organizations out there who are looking for you and what you can bring to them. But you’ll never benefit from this connection if you undermine your own value, sell yourself short, or convince yourself that you have little to offer. You have the ability to define your value to a prospective employer.

Focus on good mental and physical health.
Being unemployed can raise all kinds of nasty thoughts and feelings. It’s important to be mindful of these. I won’t suggest that you shouldn’t feel pissed off, sad, or confused. But the absolute worst thing that can happen is to wallow in them for so long, they take up permanent residence. Feel them and then let them go. Sort of what I call “catch and release.” Easier said than done, I know. Which is why taking care of our mental well-being needs to be connected to physical well-being.

When I feel the negative thoughts arriving and getting comfy in my head, that’s my signal that I need to get out for a walk or run or bike ride. I plug into my iPod and get my heart pumping. And I’ve also lost some weight in the process, too.

Get social so you don’t get sucked into the cycle of depression.
If being out of work has reminded me of anything, it’s the importance of having a support network. Friends, family, and even acquaintances have been terrific in offering their support. It’s as true now as it was the last time I was out of work.

But here’s something else I’ve come to believe: you get what you give. My social network has grown wider and deeper, which was happening prior to being unemployed. And with that strong social network, I’ve come to realize that I can help other job seekers. For instance, I’m working with another workseeker, Alora Chistiakoff to put together a Jobhunters United Tweetup here in Austin. The point is that you don’t have to go through this experience alone.

Other helpful resources…
Here’s a set of resources that I’m finding extremely helpful right now.

And don’t be shy to add some of your faves here, too. Just post them in the comments area.

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Don’t Like To Work? (And What You Can Do About It) Part II

Interestingly, this phrase is one of the top search phrases that lead folks to Bailey WorkPlay. As much as it pains me to say it, I can understand why. I’ve done my fair share of work that’s sucked, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to do work that’s been exciting and rewarding.

Here’s a truth about me: I don’t like to work either when that work doesn’t challenge me, inspire me, or use the best that I have to offer. So, this issue is one that I’m curious to explore in more depth. Below is part 2 of 3 in this series covering three more reasons why we might not like to work. Tomorrow, I’ll post the final reasons. And like last time, I’ll flip each reason in a more positive direction so we can do something about it.

Reason #3: I don’t like to work because…I dislike the people I work with/for.
I guess there are two ways of looking at this. Either you’re working with folks who you genuinely have no connection with (I’m trying to be diplomatic here…we all have worked with people who were flaming numbskulls). Or you’re the problematic person who seems to push co-workers away. If it’s the latter and you’re self-aware enough to know it, consider whether your negativity is due to your own unhappiness in your work or personal life. If that’s the case, it’s okay…you have an opportunity now to fix it.

But if it’s the former and you find yourself working around unpleasant people, that’s a level of stress that’s probably not going to go away any time soon…particularly if it’s your manager. I can’t promise any easy remedies, but I will offer this: they’re likely not going to change for you. Which means you’ll need to either learn to navigate around difficult personalities or get the heck out of there.

Reason #4: I don’t like to work because…I’m tired.
There’s no doubt about it…a job can exhaust us, sap our energy, keep us in what feels like a never-ending spiral. Taking a vacation often means coming back to more work so we don’t take the leave that is one of the top benefits an organization offers. But I will argue that’s not work, that’s a J-O-B. Work often requires an intense energy, but it’s an energy that quickly restores itself because we can’t wait to do it again and again. If your job drains you, think deeply about whether it’s work you really want to be doing.

Reason #5: I don’t like to work because…I’d rather do something else I enjoy a lot more.
There are two questions that are worth asking here: what is this activity you’d rather be doing and is there a way to turn it into an income-generating gig? While it’s not always possible, sometimes there are ways to pursue a playful passion and make it a career. It might take some imagination and bit of risk-taking, but wouldn’t you rather get up every day knowing that your work is something you absolutely love?

Here’s another question: are you ignoring a powerful signal trying to tell you something important? If play means being outside hiking and you’re stuck inside an office all day, maybe your work is better geared toward being in the open air. If you love to cook, but you’re crunching numbers for 8 hours a day, maybe it’s time to think about those culinary classes you’ve been putting off or that dream of starting a catering business.

If you come to determine that your playful activity will always just be a non-paying hobby, that’s okay. You might just keep it in your backpocket and perhaps there will come a day when your playful activity might open an opportunity to take it in a professional direction.

Tomorrow, we’ll finish up with these final reasons:
Reason #6: I don’t like to work because…the money creates a conflict.
Reason #7: I don’t like to work because…it means time away from my family.

If there’s a reason that I haven’t touched here, please leave a comment (and feel free to make it anonymous if it helps). I think there are many out there who struggle with this question and your input can help make a difference.

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Don’t Like To Work? (And What You Can Do About It) Part I

Interestingly, this phrase is one of the top search phrases that lead folks to Bailey WorkPlay. As much as it pains me to say it, I can understand why. I’ve done my fair share of work that’s sucked, but I’ve also been fortunate enough to do work that’s been exciting and rewarding.

Here’s a truth about me: I don’t like to work either when that work doesn’t challenge me, inspire me, or use the best that I have to offer. So, this issue is one that I’m curious to explore in more depth. Below is part 1 of 3 in this series covering two reasons why we might not like to work. Throughout this week, I’ll post five more reasons. And because I think there’s always something we can do to love our work, I’ll flip each reason in a more positive direction so we can do something about it.

Reason #1: I don’t like to work because…the work I do feels like drudgery.
I’m starting with what I think is probably the #1 reason folks do a Google search on this phrase in the first place. You’re in a rut, doing a job that sucks, wishing there was something better on the horizon. Now, I can tell you that the answer is to get out and go find work that you’re truly passionate about, but somehow I think you already know this. The question you’re likely wrestling with is…how? I can’t offer a complete answer here, but I say this: you owe it to yourself to find work that is uniquely yours, that fits your unique set of talents, that makes you feel of use. Make a commitment to find a career coach who can help guide you toward work that let’s your best shine through every day (note: I’ve worked with quite a few who I can highly recommend so shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to guide you along).

Other things you can do right now…
Know exactly what that drudgery looks like to you. Do you seriously want to leap to something else only to land in the same muck you left? Sit down and create an inventory of what you dislike about your JOB. Once you know what that drudgery looks like, you’ll hopefully be far less likely to find yourself neck-deep in it again.

Okay, now what do you like about your JOB? I guarantee there’s something there you can work from. Build an inventory of these things. You can use this list to construct an idea of what your best work looks like.

Reason #2: I don’t like to work because…I feel undervalued, underappreciated, underpaid, under-etc.
This was the impetus behind my recent post You Alone Define Your Value. Far too often, we internalize these feelings and own them as if they were ours to hold. Well, it’s time to disown this crap right now.

Things you can do right now…
Reclaim your value in your current work. If you feel undervalued, underappreciated, etc., create a gameplan for addressing this. It starts with you. Do you honestly feel that you’ve added value to your organization? Have you done something remarkable in the past few months? Have you visibly grown your business over the past year? If you can answer “yes” and have concrete examples, put these to paper. Now, it’s time to have a chat with your manager. Given the belt-tightening that’s going on right now, you may not be able to do much about the underpaid issue, but focus on a persuasive argument as to how your performance deserves greater visibility. Managers aren’t mindreaders and as much as we might expect them to instantly see our work and give us the necessary kudos, we need to understand they can fall prey to busyness too and can benefit from our gentle prods.

Find another place to work where you are valued, appreciated, well-paid, etc. Let’s say that you’ve done the first exercise and had the talk with your manager to little effect. Then, it’s time to move on. If you like the work you do and need to find another place to practice it, connect with your network. If you don’t know what that looks like, find a career coach, a mentor, or a colleague to bounce ideas.

Later on this week, we’ll take a look at these other reasons. And if there is another reason not listed here, leave a comment and let’s explore it together.

Reason #3: I don’t like to work because…I’m tired.
Reason #4: I don’t like to work because…I’d rather do something else I enjoy a lot more.
Reason #5: I don’t like to work because…the money creates a conflict.
Reason #6: I don’t like to work because…it means time away from my family.
Reason #7: I don’t like to work because…I dislike the people I work with/for.

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You Alone Define Your Value

It always amazes me how easy it is to lose our sense of value. As working professionals, it usually starts in our work. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that organizations are notorious for not fully grasping the value of each employee. I’m not talking about valuing that little slice of work that falls within the job description (though there are times when even this may be undervalued for sure). Rather, I’m talking about the richness of each employee’s value: their passion, their potential, their desire to bring the fullness of themselves to all they do. When this feeling of undervalue goes on for a while it’s all too easy to feel invisible and downtrodden. It’s also all too easy to create a story that says that no other organization will find you valuable. So you toil away in the same place, under the same conditions, quietly, desperately, each day muddling into the next. And the heart-wrenching part is that it often slides ever so easily into our personal life when we begin to question our value as an individual.

Remember that you alone have the ability to define your value. You get to decide your own worth as an employee, a professional, a human being. You determine which labels apply to what you do and to who you are.

If you’re trying to figure out where you’re going or how your work fits into the bigger picture of your life, I hope this holiday time gives you a chance to ease back and reflect. Know that it’s never too late to reclaim your value for yourself and choose to offer this for something better. Be of use to something or someone that appreciates all you are.

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