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4.24.13

April 24, 2013

I’m going a little crazy here this morning as I just found a ton of writing on the very subject of my last post. With this new program at work [Performance Excellence – PE for short] we are talking about ways to make our company better. To be better leaders and team members; to communicate more and in better ways; to just accomplish more and have this whole project be worth it in the end. And I may be going overboard with my thinking and excitement on this whole thing, but regardless of if this is “just a work project” or not, everything I’m thinking on and learning right now can be relevant in my day-to-day life regardless.

Seth Godin has recently written several posts on subjects similar to what I’ve been trying to say for over a year now, so I’ll just start at the beginning…

Your manifesto, your culture
In his post, Godin speaks on having a mission statement, specifically in business. He quotes from an article from Acumen calling for more people to be daring and go against the norm when it comes to the type of work they produce. To do this, it requires people to be a mix up of caring and daring – to go where others won’t and to take chances to challenge the norm, in the end making things better. And like all great things, this isn’t the easiest path to take, but it can also be worth the all the hardships and efforts.

You don’t have to pander
Expanding on the manifesto, Godin also speaks on not just giving your customer what they say they want. In order to survive in the business world, to be the best – the one other’s recommend, we have to be able to tell them what they want. To be brave or brash enough to go beyond just what is required and make the end result better than they imagined themselves. This can require only focusing on certain aspects and limiting your audience, but it will not only make a better product,  but will give the creator more satisfaction of a job well done in the end.

Avoiding the custom bully
Along the same lines, we also should stand firm in our specifications of the work we’re doing. This is a big problem I see in my daily work life, and for many freelance designers. It’s easy to be guilted into going above what you’ve stated just because the customer is paying you a large sum of money. But like a coworker of mine said recently “If I give my kids candy everyday, they’re going to expect candy everyday.” In the work place, this leads to other customers wanting the same candy [product] in the same amount of time, with the same results, and the same price every time. And this is just going to drain those doing the work. And as Godin says “They didn’t sign up to ruin your life. They signed up to get the most they could from you and your team, and the limits are the limits.”

But I believe, before all the actual work can take place, you need an effective team and environment in order to accomplish anything. Something we’re also going to have to start doing in times of distress is evaluate the team. Godin states it in terms of not “Is this the best you can do” but as “Is this the best your team can do?.” In my personal environment, I believe if we use individuals to their best of their ability within a team, we could accomplish so much more, and more importantly make people happy in their jobs again. This also requires the belief in the attitude of “It’s not personal, it’s business.” Not so much in the You’ve Got Mail sense, as we still need to be considerate of our coworkers, but especially in my specific environment it will require a lot of people to let go of years-long grudges and move on for the betterment of the team.

And while I’m seeing all this from my personal, work perspective  it’s still a valuable lesson to remember in everyday life. Some here feel antagonized with the new polices and meetings we’re having – and I can understand their annoyance – I’ve chosen to take lessons away from it to employ in my day-to-day work, and I hope to continue it should I move onto other opportunities some day. So I find myself in a motivational speaker role lately at work as I try to get others more stubborn than me to see this as well, so much so I’ve turned the web yet again as an outlet. But in the end, my ultimate goal is to help people, so I can only hope I can become braver and more outspoken in order to deliver this same message to others and the years go by.

So to close –  check out Seth Godin. He has some awesome writings.

4.22.13

April 22, 2013

This will be a long one…

This year I have realized something about myself – I like giving advice. I believe I have good things to say, and while many recipients of said advice often don’t listen to it, that doesn’t mean I’m wrong in what I say. I don’t know if this will reach anyone, but I wanted to share these thoughts here in the hopes that someone will hear them. Bear with me and I’ll try to make things as uncomplicated and understandable as I can….

To start, the reason for this post is I’ve been doing some real in-depth thinking lately, and not just on the constant subject of my career path. I’ve been thinking more about the person I am and the person I want to be.

I’ve always thought about this – I mean, don’t we all at some point? But what I tell people is, I’ve waited my whole life to be in my twenties. Most children/teenagers dream of growing up and being adults; they wish away their years for what they think the future would be. I’ve always tried not to do this – to enjoy things has they come and wait patiently for the future. I’ve just always been eager for my twenties. And while it’s not what I used to imagine, I’m also a different person than I imagined I’d be. Only a few years ago, I really decided on the type person I want to be “when I grow up”, and tried to plan out what steps would get me there. I’m a firm believer in going with the flow, and being willing to let things happen as they happen, so knowing I couldn’t control everything I decided to let the big steps happen when they happen – when the time was right. And I still believe that and am trying to follow it. But lately, recent career moves [if you can call it that] have me re-evaluating things once again.

You see, up until this year, when asked what I want to do in my life I replied “I just want to make things.” Or “I just want to help people make things.” And I still do. I still have a little [hipster like] dream of just learning and making stuff and supporting myself that way. And maybe that dream can still come true, but in my position at work this past year I’ve learned some things about myself and my likes and dislikes that have me wondering what else is out there for me.

Around this time last year, I was moved from the department I was hired into at work, to another department across the plant. At the time I was irate at this move, mostly because it was made without my permission. And for a long time I was resistant to the change – unwilling to push myself as I could to be better in the department. But, like always, I got bored with that and began working harder. Not for the company per-se, but because I couldn’t not work harder. It’s built into me, this desire to help others and try to work ahead. And over this last year, and especially in the past few months, I have grown so much and been given more responsibility. So over these past few weeks I have begun to think more along the lines of a leader.

I was very shy when I was young, even into college, so I never really wanted to be a leader – to be in charge. I just want to help other people achieve their goals. But more and more lately I’m starting to see that to achieve the best, or what I think as being the best, I may have to step up and be a leading/guiding force to get there. People still like to pick on me a little about being quiet. But unlike when I was younger, it’s not because I’m shy, it’s because I believe in choosing your words carefully. I can talk your ear off about Doctor Who or movies or science fiction, but I’m not just going to talk to talk. There are enough people doing that already. So with this new program we’re starting at work, I’ve found another subject I’m passionate enough to talk about – so much so it’s lead me to writing about it here.

This new program is about having continuous improvement in the work place. It’s about changing out the way business was run up until the last few years in industry – the do this, this way, because I say so. But more and more businesses aren’t run that way. We need structure mixed with openness and communication to make things run better, and to make employees happy. Many here are resistant or just wary of this change. Mostly because it’s the complete opposite of how things are now. But my big point to those I’ve talked to about this is – do you want things to stay like this, or do you want to try to make them better? If it’s the later, then we’re all going to have to put our fears aside and jump on whole-heartedly and trust things will get better.

I’ve found myself lately, wanting to give this little speech to anyone I see. To say how I know it’s hard to trust this, believe me, I know. While I’m not as bad as I was, I still have reservations about trusting people. But if there’s anything this job has taught me to be, it’s logical. And the logical thing is – if you want things to change, you have to be willing to change them, despite the fear. A favorite quote of mine is “You have to want it more than you’re afraid of it.”

And so it’s with this realization/lesson/whatever you want to call it, that I’ve started to realize I should re-evaluate what sort of career I see myself in 5, 10, even 15 years from now. Which means I’m back to not know what job title to look for [and that’s a post for another time]. Over the last 5 years, I’ve had to build up the ability for what some call extreme patience [so much so, I’m thinking of getting it as a tattoo], and this is just another time to use that patience as I wait to see what the next few years bring. I’m trying not to focus on the fact that I’m now 25, so in 5 years I’ll be 30, and where will I be then? What if this doesn’t work out? What if I get stuck here? But if I listen to my own advice, I remind myself to be patient. To work towards a goal, but let things happen when they need to. That’s the biggest message I want to spread as far as I can. It’s not easy, but it reduces a lot of unwanted stress in my daily life.

So if you’re reading this, and have made it this far, I hope these thoughts help in some way. And I hope I can continue to try to share thoughts like these, that it might help someone, somewhere, some time.

Title optional

May 28, 2012
tags: ,

Hello old blog. I come to you once again, with a bit of writing that has been on my mind. Possibly to be hidden away soon, but needing to get it out just the same.

Work has been such a ridiculous high school affair as of late. Since February I have been helping out in Structural Design – mostly just making coating blankets because it’s a little thing and no one really likes to do it. For a long while I felt like I was like their intern – there to do the little tasks that get lost in all the giant, many things that are much more important – when what they really needed was someone who could build dies and blankers and all the other structural design-y things that help the business run. Even after I learned how to make blankers, I was too busy making blankets to do anything else – especially since I started voluntarily splitting my days between structural and graphics [where I was hired].

A few weeks ago I developed a new possible plan [one of a thousand I had been creating ever since they “asked” me to help out]: after one of the graphics ladies got back from medical leave, I would go to structural for a week or two and learn to make dies [what they REALLY need someone to do] and then go back to splitting my time. Apparently, this was not a good plan as last Wednesday I found out I am now a structural designer – permanently.

Now my problem is not that I was moved. It’s not that I hate structural design. I actually enjoy the actual process and the programs. What I didn’t appreciate was that no one told me I was permanently moved. That some thought it was fine to change someone’s position without asking them [which it is], but it’s also perfectly fine to change it without telling them.

Now I have learned so many things since I started this job [my first “real” job out of college]:
– I have learned that I am very good at learning things. If it has a process and is mostly logical – I can probably learn to do it on my own very quickly.
– I’ve learned even more not to fear asking questions. Don’t know how to do something  but don’t want to seem like an idiot? Ask a question. It will be much better for you in the end than if you just tried to figure it out yourself for fear of looking like you don’t know what you’re doing.
– This doesn’t mean you should ALWAYS ask questions. You should learn to use your intuition and take what you’ve done previously, and try to deduct the answer first. This wasn’t so much taught to me, as I find it annoying. Which is why I try to get things down quickly.
– I’ve learned a great deal about the printing process. Since I was put in structural I’ve tried to find out as much as I can about the plate making and cutting process. Two weeks ago I finally got to see the gluing/finishing process. I have yet to explore the actual printer, but I figure I’ll get to that during my time here.
– I have learned not to assume or state that no one has as much work as you. That what you do is more important than anyone elses job and tht people only complain or criticize you. Yes not everyone can know what it’s like to do your job, and maybe others don’t seem as busy as you – but that doesn’t mean they don’t work hard. That what they do is any less important than what you do. And to continually vocalize these assumptions just makes you yet another complainer who should be using that time to get work done.
– An important lesson I have really come to believe is to just get your work done. Catching up and conversing with others is an important part of work place interaction – but it shouldn’t get in the way of your work. Learn to multi-task, and your life will be much easier. At least that’s how it’s worked out for me.

While these are all very good skills and sure to help me in my future endeavors, they are not what I consider to be the MOST important things I’ve learned over the last few months. Most importantly I have learned what type of person I want to be. Sure, I’ve always had an idea and have tried to be aware of how my actions and words portray me to others. Here, I have really learned the type of person I do not want to be. I want to always try to be courteous of other people’s feelings. To tell the truth when I can because trying to spare someone, or just plain cowardice, doesn’t help anyone. The last point is most important to me, because I have been a coward in the past. When I didn’t want to see or talk to someone anymore, I just quit seeing and talking to them. While this may be “something kids do” – it’s not appropriate for adulthood, and especially not in the work place when important situations are involved – such as the changing of someone’s title/role in the company.

I realize all of this sounds kind of negative, and I have definitely learned and seen positive things during these last few months. There are great people at this company [among only a few not-so-great]. People that really care about others and care about the work they do. People who want to help others succeed at what they do and to help the company. This means there is also enormous potential for this company – if people will only act and behave in the right way.

If it weren’t for these great people, I would be much, much more miserable these days. As it is, I actually like my life right now – all things considered. I am trying very hard not to let the negative things at work affect me – both in and out of work. Since I graduated college [and a few months before] I have been going through what seems like lesson after lesson in patience. I always thought I was a patient person, but the trials over the last year and especially the last few months have shown me just how wrong I am.

So the only thing I can do, when I start work tomorrow officially [and knowingly] as a structural designer, is continue to soak up as much knowledge as I can and try to be more patient as I work towards becoming the person I want to be. Fingers and toes crossed.

J.W.

February 8, 2012

This past weekend, my grandfather passed away at the age of 87.

After a long life, and a battle with leukemia and non-hodgkin’s lymphoma, he passed away in his sleep – with his wife of 65   years and two daughters [my mother and aunt] at his side.

Going into this past weekend, I was very upset. Since my dad called on Tuesday with the news that my grandfather had decided to stop treatment, there was never a time I wasn’t thinking of him and what he was going through and would go through. When I got more information from my mom, I was under the impression we had a little time still. While this made me happy that I would get to see him more, it also plagued me with thoughts of him in more pain. However, upon arriving at the hospital Friday afternoon, it was immediately apparent to me that we would not have that much time. He had been in and out all day, and was able to recognize me was I entered the room, and chat a little bit. After that, he never really came around again, except to say that he wanted to go home.

After the goodbyes from everyone that night,  I was somewhat prepared the next morning when my parents came in to tell me the news. It was a similar, if not exactly the same situation as when my dad’s dad died three years ago. However, after hearing the news, I didn’t cry as much as I thought I would. After preparing myself for weeks of more pain and having to see him slowly slip away, it was a relief to know he would no longer be in pain. He would no longer have to deal with all the things his body had been plaguing him with since September. It was hard to see my grandmother, mother and aunts grieve his passing – but we all said he was in a better place. He had always been a man of God, and my grandmother was content with seeing him again one day.

All of this is to say – my grandfather was a wonderful man. I didn’t get to know him too well until this past few years – though I’ve been around him all my life. Especially this past year, I’ve gotten to spend more time with him and learning about him, and I feel so lucky to have had that time. I know the days ahead will be hard, but I also know he is in a better place and much happier than he has ever been.

Today through the visitation, service and graveside – I didn’t cry like I thought I would. But at the beginning of the service my family had chosen this song to play, and it still brings tears to my eyes now. Not because of sadness, but because of so much happiness and hope welling in my heart. This describes my grandfather’s beliefs perfectly, and if I could have I would have sung it at the top of my lungs today.

manhattan

August 2, 2011

I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do with/on this blog, but I had a not-so-great to great day today and just wanted to share these picture I took. These little lovelies were taken at my favorite pizza place near my old campus. It took me two years to finally try it and since then I’m always suggesting to go there whenever I can, and since I’m no longer in school I opt for it every time I’m in town.

I got to spend the day with my good friend T, and while our morning consisted of a long wait and a bust, the afternoon was full of amazing pizza and even better conversation. And T got two requests for interview this week so I’m sending as much luck and confidence her way as I can.

For anyone actually following this blog, I’m still searching for part or full-time work these days. I’m currently fixing up my website a little and still applying for jobs, so I’m filling the rest of my days with housekeeping [joy] and making dinners [actually a joy. And good practice]. I’m hoping to really figure out what to do here once I get the necessary things in order, so just look on over on my tumblr if you want to fill your time waiting with some awesome things.

break

July 2, 2011

i’ve decided to take a break from blogs. or at least try to, for at least a week. i figured i’d say something here, in case there actually are people checking to see if i’ve posted.

i really need to get serious about my job searching and finally finish up a few more things i’ve been putting off.

so see you in a week, blog world….

 

monday twelve

June 20, 2011

1. so excited to have found film on paper, as it combines my love of movies with my love of design. [via]
2. pasta is one of my favorite foods, only surpassed by cheese. combine the two together and i’m game, so i can’t wait to try out this recipe.
3. such an adorable and beautiful alphabet by ludvig bruneau. [via]
4. i also can’t wait to try my hand at these beautiful painted votives.
5. so lucky to have found the ridiculous voice of allen stone. [via]
6. i am so in love with these DIY calling cards! so simple and beautiful, i’m definitely hunting down a  stamp kit to make some of my own. [via]
7. i’ve been seeing maps as wrapping paper more and more these days, it’s got me itching for a vintage hunting adventure. i also love the use of maps in bookmaking, and this one on tourist vs. residents.
8. i can’t stop looking at the elements of happiness by laura javier. see the online copy here. [via]
9. how awesome is this alphabet by anne ulku? her studio space is quite lovely as well.
10. the work of andy gilmore is so stunning, i love his use of color and shape to great amazing geometric art. [via]
11. i can only dream of having a bookcase wall like this some day.
12. and ending on a personal note, i had a wonderful hang out day with my friend Tiff last week. we went for a picnic, a short hike, and a walk around a local university with lots of talking, laughing and picture taking in between. it was definitely a day well spent.