I have been the major breadwinner for my family since 1991. And (holy shXX) that is almost three decades. To paraphrase that insurance commercial, I have seen some things.
From those years of experience …
- My daughters were both born in the ’80s … and aside from fabulous shoulder pads, nothing good was happening in the workplace. I literally had a news director pat me on the head and assure me I couldn’t possibly be serious about working in the Indianapolis radio market as a new mom.
- When your kid has an allergic reaction to Penicillin, and you run out of the office to get them to the emergency room – as instructed by her pediatrician – it can have substantial blow back with your boss, including the phrase, “You can’t just leave.”
- I was the primary caregiver for my mother her last five years on this earth … 4.5 of which were spent in my house. Numerous doctor appointments and hospital stays, for which I was responsible for transport … and I felt the need to be there. Trying to hit the hospital before work, but wait for the doctor to come by, which sometimes was 9 or 9:30 … well past the time I was expected to be at my desk, billing hours.
- The last six weeks of my mother’s life were with (amazing) hospice caregivers. She went to in-facility hospice for two weeks, outlived Medicare’s payment and came home for in-home care. When I approached my boss about this, she informed me, “You need to bill 40 hours a week.” And, when I emailed my work team (where I had been for almost five years) that my mother was in her final hours and I wouldn’t be available on a Monday, I was still called with the “Monday art meeting.” I reported in to work the day after my mother’s passing … somehow hoping to prove that I was “loyal” to a company.
- Since that time, I’ve had five grandchildren. I want to be able to attend “grandparent’s day” at school, see their school musical performances, baseball games and Tai Kwon Do testing and whatever they think “Woo” would like to see or do. And sometimes, that is within the 9-to-5, Monday through Friday, of a traditional workday.
- I am now remarried to a retirement-age person who is creating a bucket list of which he should not be denied. Thank heavens I have moved to a new model!
In 2010, an awesome and terrifying thing happened. I was downsized as the agency for which I worked continued to lose clients. For the first time, let go from a position … before I had the chance to flee, knowing it wasn’t the right place for me. July 3, 2010 was my unofficial independence day. I was mad, scared to death, and unsure of what the future held. I was single and responsible for my own damned self. When Monday rolled around, I decided “why not?” and launched Pickett & Associates … with a business model that included TWO measurable objectives:
- Paying my mortgage
- Making my car payment.
By the end of the first week, I had one client … by the end of the month, I had two. And the little engine that could … I think I can, I think I can … plodded along. I got up every morning, wrote a blog (nope, no website until 12 months later) and posted it to my LinkedIn account.
Fast forward …. a decade down the road.
I’m writing this beach side, as the sea gulls swoon and cranes pose like ridiculous emperors of the beach. I’ve got my feet up on a beach wall. Back in (sub-freezing) Indianapolis, a team of highly skilled professionals are managing accounts, doing their thing, getting work done … all on their own time. And we are killing it.
And all those professionals are women who are tired of the bullshit. They are tired of people telling them to “punch a clock.” Tired of being mansplained. Tired of agism. Tired of having to explain to someone that when a pediatrician tells them that they have to get their kid to ER, it’s no time to dicker around about, “Is it okay to leave?”
We support each other. We’ve all gone through a lot. Aging parents. Sick kids. Chronic illness. Financial hardship. Professionally, we strive to lift each other up, not cut each other down … Everyone is stronger if everyone is informed and empowered.
And (business model alert), it’s why we are successfully competing with large agencies in Central Indiana. We are straight-shooting entrepreneurs who come together with the client’s needs and best practice communications strategies and tactics in our tool kit.
It’s not rocket science … we’re doing the right thing, because we can. No overhead, benefits or quotas to fill. We work with the clients in whom we believe and respectfully decline the others. You don’t like what we’re doing? Let us switch up project managers, tacticians … and see what we can do. Still not working? Let me help find you a replacement! Because after 30+ years in the market, I know who’s real … and who is a Velveteen Rabbit poser. (read the book).
The bottom line? A business built on mutually respectful terms is going to succeed. You need to ask your employees what they want and need. And, a mutually respectful business is going to create CRAZY loyalty … treating people like responsible adults will make them act like responsible adults. And if it doesn’t, then you know they’re not the right person for your organization.
Super simple? Yes. But it works.
Cheers to you in 2020.