A Beautiful Frustum In Your Thirties

Seth Godin, one of my favorite business bloggers, recently wrote a blog about pyramids without a top. In geometry, these types of shapes are called frustums.

We spend our career lives trying to get to the top of our pyramid- we want to be the career elite, the famous, the special, the 1%. And why not? Fantastic career success is a big and beautiful possibility.

However, with the advent of the digital age, more and more of us will find it easier than ever to get our work out there in some form, but harder and harder to gain the fame and well-known 1% type of success (because everyone else is getting their work out too). For example, it’s easier than ever for anyone to publish a book all by themselves, but now there are more books available than ever before. Instead of waiting to get a book published, you can publish your book and sell it on Amazon or multiple other internet sources completely free. You can do the same with music and web tv (webisodes)- you can quickly and easily get your music or webseries online and direct to users all by yourself and for almost no cost.

Will you be the next Taylor Swift or Lady Gaga? The next Stephen King or Tina Fey? Maybe. Maybe not. But can you be a success and make good money and have a powerful, impactful, positive life without being a headliner like the above names? Absolutely.

The hard part isn’t in being in a frustum of an industry- where there’s no real peak, just more and more opportunity for entry- the hard part is in accepting the frustum and knowing you can still make a great life. There’s lots of room in frustums for lots of people to be successes- it’s just a different kind of success.

Even when you’re not well-known or at what you think is the peak of your career pyramid, you can still be a pretty damn good school teacher or time-share seller or yoga instructor or animal shelter manager. You can write amazingly good books or make insanely gorgeous music and get it all out into the world easier than ever because the base of the frustum is wider than ever. If you can accept this shapeshifted new world change, you may just realize that you’re more successful (and happier) than you ever dreamed you could be.

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What’s a “Real” Job In Your Thirties?

Continuing along Jane’s career topic from the last post, I have a “what the heck is a “real” job anyway?” story from this weekend.

So I was working in Vegas for the past few days- doing my “real job” of being a self-employed presenter and product specialist at tradeshows, conventions, events and autoshows. For the past three years or so, I’ve thought of this as my ‘real job.’ There are three reasons for this:

  1. I do this job full time.
  2. I enjoy doing this job
  3. I make money from doing this job- in fact, I make just about all of my full time income from this job.

The reason I’ve only considered this my real job prior to the last 3 years, even though I’ve been doing the same thing for more than 9 years, is because I used to consider my real job:

1.PASSIONATE THEATRE DIRECTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE. OCCASIONAL VERY PASSIONATE ACTOR EXTRAORDINAIRE.

I stopped considering theater jobs as my “real job” for one very simple reason:

  1. I don’t make money from doing those jobs.

*At least not close to enough money to support myself and my formerly six figure student loan (now down to an impressive 5 figures! Woot!)

However, while working the convention this weekend, an attendee said to me in a confidential whisper, “so, what’s your ‘real’ job?

I informed him that this was, in fact, my real job. That I do this full time in differing aspects.

He wouldn’t accept my answer. He kept pushing for what my ‘real job’ really was. I attempted to explain to him that I’m building up my current job to do even more in the field of presenting. He wasn’t satisfied. He didn’t believe me. He was sure I was holding back.

I mentioned that I’m entrepreneurial and have multiple side projects, some of which are online. I even attempted to explain some of the side projects. None of this information satisfied him.

Now, at this point, I was looking for an escape route, or at least a way to get back to work and end the conversation.

Finally, I said, “Ok, I direct theater. I’m an actor. I have a theater company”

THIS answer he accepted. “I ‘KNEW IT!” he shouted. “You have a real job after all!”

And after talking my ear off for a few more minutes, and attempting to get my card, he finally went on his merry way, leaving me slightly more annoyed than before he arrived.

I guess some people just have an idea in their head of what a ‘real’ job is.  Being an ‘Actor,’ whether it makes you any money or not, is a ‘job’ that people understand. I always thought acting was the thing people kind of made fun of because a lot of the time ‘actors ‘ end up serving you in restaurants. But I guess the “real job” title of “Actor” is glamorous in it’s own way, even when it’s not.

I could’ve said “pursuing acting left me in abject poverty. Directing theater took up so much of my time that I couldn’t make money working other jobs that actually paid. I made such little money as a theater director that there was no way I could buy a weekly Metrocard, never mind pay my rent from the sad stipends I received. This “real job” that you don’t consider a real job saved my financial life.”

But I feel like he would’ve just said some platitude like, “Keep smiling, kid. Live your dreams. ”

So I simply let him walk away in ignorant bliss. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

Is Having a “Respectable” Job In Your Thirties Worth Your Happiness?

Something I’ve been thinking a lot about lately is having a ‘respectable’ job in your thirties.

In my twenties, I’ll admit, I hustled for money a lot…I was concentrating on my “real passion” – theater – so I was working a lot of random event jobs in between the Tradeshows I normally worked..also for extra money to support my theater career. I had jobs where I worked outside in the snow and handed out orange juice. I had jobs catering parties where people wouldn’t look at or talk to me. I had jobs at bars where too many people looked at and talked to me. I had jobs dressed as a dinosaur from a video game. There were many crazy moments. And, I’ll admit, there are still crazy moments now.

But there’s something about being in your thirties where the old job hustling doesn’t seem to cut it anymore. It feels very  important to have a “respectable” job. Job titles are cool in your thirties the way everything ‘grown up’ is sort of cool. Somewhere along the line of being in your thirties, you’re supposed to have ‘made it’ careerwise, right?

Well, I definitely don’t miss a lot of the random crazy gigs I had in my twenties, especially the ones that didn’t pay well. And I definitely am way more conscious of how I’m treated by the people I work with- I tolerate a lot less disrespect than I used to. But as for having a particularly ‘respectable’ and grown up job title…well, I don’t know exactly what that means to me. Especially since I’ve always been self-employed and have kind of cobbled my skills together.

I know some people who:

  1. Have an amazing, respectable job title and are pretty happy but make way less money than you’d think.
  2. Who have an amazing, respectable job title and make lots of money, but are way more UNhappy than you’d think.
  3. And of course, there are the people in respectable jobs who make tons of money and are super happy. I guess that = the dream. Damn those guys.

But maybe the thirties career dream actually doesn’t need the respectable title. Maybe all you need is to make good money (or at least enough money) and be really happy. Perhaps in your thirties, you don’t necessarily need that respectable title after all- just make enough money and be happy enough doing it. Then go do other things that make you happy.

So I’m sort of stopping my search for the respectable job title and am focusing the search on jobs that meet my financial needs and make me happy enough. Then I’m off doing other happy-making things.

If you can make good money hustling and are happy doing it, then by all means, hustle.  If you’re happy being a theater actor, and are okay money-wise, then be a theater actor. For goodness sake, if you’re happy and make enough money being a clown at a birthday party, then by all means, keep doing that! Screw the titles and screw explaining yourself! Figure out your own life, make yourself happy, and then of course, keep afloat. Make your own title! As long as you have the money to keep yourself smiling, then go for it. Because aren’t the thirties all about giving zero fucks anyway?

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Help! I’m 30 and Never Followed My Childhood Dream! – Part 2

Jane just wrote How Did You Find Your Career Path? and, in the article, she mentioned a lot of people that didn’t find their career, but instead had their career “find them.” There was the writing major friend of hers who ended up working in perfume, and the film school friend who went into advertising… And then she mentioned how people’s careers usually switch approximately 7 times in their life!

I have a friend who was a drama major who got a major role in a film that turned him off from acting. He went into teaching, loves it, and never looked back. My brother, another actor, was always big into video games and tech. He got a job during college in a video game store. He’s now a brilliant manager at that store and loves his job.

I’m finding lately that sometimes what you think you want to do isn’t actually what you want to do at all. It’s almost hard to admit here because it feels like giving up something…a part of who you are. In a post I wrote awhile ago, Help! I’m 30 and Never Followed My Childhood Dream, I remembered an episode of How I Met Your Mother. In that episode, the gang all realized that there were dream career paths from their childhood that they never followed but always held secret hopes that they one day would. Lily wanted to be a painter and someone wanted to be a rockstar…I can’t remember who. At the end of the episode they realize that they want to let those dreams go because they enjoy the paths they’re currently on even more.

It’s a hard lesson, and not always the case. Childhood career dreams sometimes become reality. Or they sometimes influence what you end up doing (all that drama school helps me see tradeshows as a kind of theater that I need to organize, occasionally direct, and always play my part in, haha). Also, childhood career dreams come in and out, sometimes reemerging as a fresh passion (Janna talks about going after her dancing and acting dreams again after stopping for awhile in Portrait of a Thirtysometing- Janna Davis.)

More than ever, I think that nowadays your career is something to create and evolve with…it isn’t a straight line but- to be corny- kind of a large garden, with seasons and fresh starts and different climates. Sometimes there’s sun and sometimes there’s snow. The soil remains the same (you), but can feel dried up or moistened (those times you realized your career path wasn’t working for you vs those moments of inspiration).

I’ve even heard before from friends that the best moments of their lives were after they got fired from their jobs. They were absolutely forced to start fresh in new jobs and situations they never would have turned to before.

That’s a scary situation and I would never wish for it. I love my job and my unforeseen career path, even though it was never my childhood dream. But I feel more and more that career paths can widen and change and twist into something far different, and maybe a lot better, than your childhood self ever could have dreamed up.

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Power Tripping in Your Thirties

Do you remember having a crazy boss when you were younger? Or being new to a job and feeling powerless and lost? Was there a time when you looked around at coworkers for advice and assistance?

I’ve been through this multiple times, because, as a self-employed individual, my jobs are always revolving. I’ve been in “management” positions, team positions, and semi-employee positions. I remember being new to jobs and looking up to fellow coworkers for advice. Sometimes I knew that I should ask questions and felt too timid. Other times I was possibly too loud while feeling things out.

I see the power shifting of job positions all the time. It’s especially interesting in my field because someone who was the “manager” yesterday could simply be part of the team today. Leaders become followers become leaders all the time where I work. I find it’s very important to both be able to take direction as a “team member” and also to stay humble in leadership positions.

But I see power being abused all the time by people in leadership positions. People roll their eyes when ‘newbies’ make mistakes. People boss others around when there are way better ways to communicate. It’s easy to forget what it’s like to be new to a job and extremely confused.

Perhaps you’re in a leadership position at your job now that you’re in your thirties. Maybe you’re at the top of a ladder you climbed all throughout your twenties- an expert in your field. Try to remember what it was like when you were at the very beginning of your career climb. Keep your roots close to your heart.

Of course, I’ve also seen ‘new’ people disrespect those in authority, or not be able to take direction well. And of course, that doesn’t help them gain any favors from those in power.

However, once you climb close to the top, stay humble and simply empathize and help those around you with their own climb. Try not to power trip even though it may feel good to do so. Know that one day those ‘newbies’ you now have power over may end up in a position of power above you.

I've done some really wild gigs that would've been a lot harder if I had a power tripping manager on my case...

I’ve had some really wild gigs that would’ve been a lot harder if I had a power tripping manager on my case…

Can You Monetize It?

My background is in theater. I was a drama major in college who started out as an actor and quickly discovered that I also loved to direct.

After I graduated, I went in search of lots of theater to work on. I quickly found myself directing friends’ plays and also acting in plays for theater festivals and readings all over the city. I was proud of my efforts, even when they took up all my time and didn’t pay anything. Sometimes I would get what’s called a ‘stipend,’ which is a small amount of honorary money for my time and effort. Usually, no money would be involved at all- other than the money I spent out of my own pocket on the production.  I balanced my paying job (working tradeshows) with working on as much theater as I could fit into the crevices of my time off.

Sometimes I would turn down paid tradeshow work because I was in the middle of rehearsals for a production I was directing. The irony of this is that I could sometimes make the equivalent of my entire directors stipend in one day of work at my ‘real job.’

But I found it hard to prioritize tradeshows because theater was my ‘true passion’ and what I ‘really did’…tradeshow work was just a filler job. Theater became this magical universe where being paid a decent rate for your time became something of a joke, and everyone just moaned ‘there’s no money in theater, we need donations’ and continued on.

n the dressing room before a show..I'm not exactly sure what we were doing here.

In the dressing room before a show..I’m not exactly sure what we’re doing here, but bananas were definitely involved.

Then there came a time a few years ago where I reached my breaking point. I needed to put more money towards my student loans and stop turning down paid work. I couldn’t work for free anymore. So I took a hiatus from theater. The hiatus has been going on for about 2 years now…in fact, I’m still on that hiatus.

Amazingly, I’ve been pretty happy during this time off. I still co-run a theater company, so I keep a bit of theater in my life, and I’ve been able to work as much as I can and not double book paid jobs with unpaid rehearsals. I really enjoy my career in tradeshows, so I’m happily going through my days. Things are good, but I sometimes wonder about my real passion.

Now that I’m thirty, I’ve been thinking a lot about paid ‘filler’ work versus unpaid passions. There are so many options here. I kind of turned my ‘filler’ work into my main work, but I could have attempted to monetize my passion. Contrary to what I might have you believe from this post, there are people making some money from theater or theatrical work. And there are lots of people who work on all sorts of passion projects that can be monetized, but haven’t been monetarily figured out yet.

Then there are other friends of mine who know there’s very little money in their passion projects, but are okay with that. When I asked my friend how he replies to people who question his choice to be a playwright even though there’s just about no money in it, he inspired me. He said, “I tell them that I’ve worked lots of jobs that paid me tons of money and none of them made me as happy as I am writing plays. Not everything is about money.”

There’s a lot to think about here.

What If I Lived Nowhere?

The Detroit Auto Show is going well…I’m more than halfway through working it. When I return from the show, I’ll have 2 days off in New York and then will leave again for a 10 day show in Philadelphia. When I return from that, I’ll leave again for a 10+ day show in Chicago…and so on and so forth.

I travel a lot for work. I work as a professional speaker and product specialist at tradeshows, conventions and auto shows. I used to think I’d simply book work in New York, and then that expanded to simply booking work in the Northeast, then the East coast, then the entirety of America, and then I even began to occasionally book international work.

The blog I used to write before this one was a blog about travel. I enjoyed traveling for work and sharing tips and tricks about how to travel easier, smoother, and cheaper. Travel is so innately built into my life- I can’t really do my job without it- that it has also accidentally become a major part of my identity.

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So after my ex-boyfriend and I broke up last summer, I thought about living nowhere. It seemed like the absolute right thing for me to do at the absolute right time. It seemed to fit perfectly with who I am. I’m away from home so much anyway that it seemed pointless to pay rent every month. And I even considered blogging about my future nomadic living experience. I actually see a lot of travel bloggers of all ages living nowhere- they put their stuff in storage and just travel for a year or more. Sometimes it’s simply cheaper for them to travel the world than to stay in their city and pay the exorbitant rent prices (cough NYC cough SF cough).

Since I’m thirty, it seemed a bit late to start such a major lifestyle change (complete nomad seemed more of a twenties thing to do), but I was ready for some major changes. It seemed like the right time to live nowhere if I was going to live nowhere.

A few of my coworkers at tradeshows/auto shows were already living the nomadic lifestyle and just traveled from show to show without having any kind of home base. They would occasionally crash on friends’ couches and/or with their parents between shows. Or they’d use their numerous hotel points to practically live at the Hilton or the Marriott. It sounded like a fascinating, yet exhausting, life.

Yet after careful consideration, the exhausting part of it led me in search of a nice, peaceful apartment in New York to call home. Some soul searching lead me to the realization that the glamour of living nowhere didn’t hold a candle to a space that’s all mine.

And I thought about something one of my friends said as I had been weighing my options: “you call living nowhere the ‘nomadic lifestyle’ but some just call it ‘homeless.”

Touché.

I love my new little Queens apartment and cannot be happier. Even though I have to pay rent for it every month. Even though I’m not there right now. Just knowing I have a place to call home lends weight to my otherwise very up in the air lifestyle.

Sometimes something may seem like the absolute right thing to do at the absolute right time. But it may not actually be the right thing at all.

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What To Do With A 401K From Your Old Job

Since you’re in your thirties, or almost there, I’m going to take a guess and say that you’ve probably changed jobs at least once.

In fact, it’s likely that  you’ve changed jobs multiple times.

So what did you do with the 401ks from your old jobs? Did you even have one then?

When I was looking into this (because I’ve gotten this 401k question a lot), I noticed that not only did many people not know what to do with their old 401ks, many of them didn’t know how to FIND them..or they didn’t know whether they had a 401k with their former job in the first place. 

So first things first: let’s start with what to do with a 401k at an old job when you know where it is and that it exists. Basically, there are 4 options:

1. Leave the 401k where it is (with the old job.)

2. Roll the money into your current job’s 401k

3. Roll the money into an IRA

4. Take the money and run.

I’m going to start with a warning: please don’t do the last one! DO NOT take the money and run!!! It’s a really bad idea, and will cost you a ton of money to do so! If you pull the money out of an old 401k before age 55 (retirement age for 401ks), two things will happen: 1. You’ll be hit with a 10% penalty!! 2. You’ll have to pay taxes on all the money as if it was regular income (which it is)! Just don’t do it! My research found that 25% of people choose this option…don’t be one of them! Anyway, that’s my two cents on that choice.

So now you have three choices left. All of these choices are pretty good- it really depends on what you want.

Two of the choices may not be an option:

1. You may not even be able to roll your money into your current employer’s 401k plan. You’ll have to check with them and see.

2. If you have less than $5000 in an old 401k, your old employer may not let you keep the money there anyway.

So, if you’re looking to have all your accounts in one place and less hassle with paperwork, I’d recommend either rolling your old 401k account into your new 401k account (if your new job allows you to do that), or consolidating everything into a rollover IRA.

But if you’re looking for the best possible investment options and don’t care about the hassle of paperwork from multiple accounts, you’ll have to do a little research. Here’s what you should be thinking about: 

a)Sometimes the 401k at your old job has some special investment options (like company stock) that you can’t get in an IRA.

b) A 401k offers slightly more protection from creditors in certain states.

c) You can withdraw from a 401k penalty free at age 55, but you can’t withdraw from an IRA until age 59.5 without a fee.

So if you have great old company stock or are really worried about creditors or really want to retire by 55, you may want to leave your money alone in the old 401k or roll into the new one (if possible).

But generally, rolling your old 401k into a Rollover IRA is the simplest and most cost-effective way to go. 

Here’s how to set up and roll your old 401k into a Rollover IRA and get started at Vanguard. 

Here’s how to set up and roll your old 401k into a Rollover IRA and get started at Fidelity.

Now, if your 401k is lost or you aren’t sure whether you even have old 401ks lying around from old jobs, see the awesome 401k helpcenter I found!

Hope this helps! I know that’s a lot of info if you’re unfamiliar with IRAs and 401Ks so, as always, let me know if you have any questions or anything to add! Thanks!

Do not take the money and run. You won't be able to hide...the IRS will find you and tax you on it...and take away 10% of it...

Do not take the money and run. You won’t be able to hide…the IRS will find you. And tax you…

Best Things About Being In Your 30s- The Lists

Ah, the ubiquity of Buzzfeed lists…love ’em or hate ’em, they’re all over Facebook and Twitter, and links to them seem to pop up everywhere. But are Buzzfeed lists (or lists along those lines) just click bait, or can they actually tell us something about our lives?

Jane and I are always looking for lists of descriptive thirties traits, findings and meanings- anything thirties related really- and when we do searches for the thirties, invariably there’s a Buzzfeed list or two right on Google’s front page. So today I read through a Buzzfeed article titled “27 Underrated Things About Being In Your Thirties.”

As I read through a list of statements and memes capturing those statements, I started to feel more and more confused and anxious..mainly because everything seemed so perfectly tied with a big red bow, and my life didn’t seem to be where it should be compared to the list. My god, it’s Buzzfeed! BUZZFEED! Buzzfeed shouldn’t make you upset!  But yet, dammit, it did.

And it wasn’t just me! The comments below were achingly funny and painful..starting with someone saying, “This made me feel a whole lot worse about my life.” Which was followed up by 186 likes and a whole lot of agreement, including “You are not alone, friend. I’m really depressed now about everything every other 30-something is having/doing that I’m not” and “I’m 40, and most of this just made me want to crawl into a hole and die.”

So below are some of the statements that stuck out at me. Try not to want to crawl into a hole and die. You’re not alone, friend 🙂

3. Chances are that you’re making more money now.

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I’m making more money now, yes, but I know a lot of people who aren’t, and this statement still made me nail-bitingly nervous.

4. Which means you can afford actual furniture that’s not from Ikea.

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What? ALL my furniture is from Ikea! Ikea is AWESOME! (Ok, IKEA isn’t awesome, but it is frigging CHEAP!) And what is that Soho loft pictured above with the vintage-chic walls and exposed brick? I mean, come on now!

8. You give zero fucks, so you dance however you want!

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Umm…not yet at that ZERO fucks stage…maybe LESS fucks? And me dancing however I want wouldn’t be good for anyone..

10. At work, you’re not some assistant bitch anymore, you’re a BOSS.

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Though I know people who’ve climbed the career ladder and match this description..I also know lots of people who are assistants, or who still aren’t sure about their career yet.. I am not necessarily a BOSS, though I am self-employed, so maybe this fits me more than I believe..I can play around with it..

12. Any dating you do is less messy, because you know what you want and you demand it.

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Umm, no?

13. And you wind up in much healthier relationships.

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Hmm…this one just feels presumptuous. Also, this is such a random photo! You think it’s the author? Are these people two random celebrities I don’t recognize?

17. You’ve found a group of friends who are the most amazing people you’ve ever met.

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Also a random photo. And I think the author got this idea from a Sex and the City binge…in fact, this photo should’ve been Samantha and Charlotte and Carrie and Miranda. The thirties are where I hear the most gripes about LACK of friendship. People are all like ‘where have my friends gone??’ Umm, babies, marriage, moving, high-stress jobs, people giving ZERO fucks…these things steal friends…

24. You’re no longer afraid of change…

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Damn it, change is STILL the the boogeyman in the closet for me! The people who aren’t scared of change don’t know the horrors of when it jumps out and grabs you! It’s so big and bad and mean sometimes…

I’m only sort of kidding here… but change still = mucho scary.

But all jokes aside, when it comes to figuring out what the thirties are to you, I want to just say: Beware of Buzzfeed lists! And stereotypes! And bragging disguised as positivity! And funny memes that are actually bragging disguised as positivity hidden in sadness wrapped in stereotype! (As fun as they may sometimes be.)

Salary Calculator- Are You Getting Paid Your Worth? (And the Recent Tech Internship Salary Explosion)

Salary Calculator- Are You Getting Paid Your Worth? (And the Recent Tech Internship Salary Explosion)

Have you researched your salary compared with others in your industry?

If you haven’t, perhaps it’s time to make sure you’re getting paid what you deserve.

I’m self-employed, and I work in an industry (event and promotional marketing) where payment can fluctuate. I’ve been in this industry for a long time (more than 10 years) and I’m extremely experienced and good at what I do. I know the standard payment for events and the minimum payment that I will accept. However, everyone working in the industry has to demand to be paid what they’re worth, or the whole industry’s base payments can go down.

For example, let’s say that I usually work an event that pays $45 an hour. If next year that event suddenly starts paying $17 an dollar, I know my bottom line, and I will refuse to work it.

Now, since I refuse to work that event, a few scenarios can unfold:

1. The booking agency can call me and ask why I won’t work the event again this year, in which case I will explain why I’m not working, and we can potentially negotiate the pay close to or back to what it was.

2. The booking agency can hire someone else who will work for $17 an hour who is inexperienced and bad at the job.

3. The booking agency can hire someone else who will work for $17 an hour who is experienced and good at the job.

The first scenario is good- I have helped maintain what has been the industry standard (or even helped increase it!), and I have negotiated for what I’m worth instead of lowering my standards.

The second scenario is mediocre- if the booking agency hires someone who is bad at the job, the client will probably get upset. The agency will then potentially up the payment next time in order to hire the best workers in the industry. Sometimes the agency still won’t pay, and will just lower standards altogether, even if the client isn’t happy…this will eventually lead to the agency getting fired.

The third scenario is what causes problems- if someone experienced and good at their job accepts payment below industry standard, they will LOWER industry standard for the everyone involved! After all, if Amazon pays great computer programmers 250K a year, but start finding loads of just as great programmers who happily accept 30K a year, the salaries for all Amazon programmers will begin to decrease.

I have an accountant friend who recently figured out that the salary of her colleague DOING THE EXACT SAME JOB with WAY LESS EXPERIENCE was making 30K more than her a year! My friend only figured it out after accidentally seeing her colleague’s paystub. She didn’t realize how much money she could’ve been making, and therefore didn’t negotiate a pay raise.

I’ve known lots of interns who are working their butts off for various companies and making ZERO dollars. The other day, a woman named Jessica Shu posted a list of tech intern salaries in a group called Hackathon Hackers. The list promptly went viral. I’ve included it below:

intern salaries

Dear god!!! That’s some crazy money!

But- it’s great that interns are getting paid! They should be!!! I mean, this kind of internship money blows my mind- but it’s especially insane compared to those interns getting paid $0. ESPECIALLY if you’re an intern in the tech industry getting paid $0 – imagine seeing these numbers and realizing you’re likely getting screwed!

Know your worth…and don’t accept less! (And perhaps consider going into tech…) 😉

If you want to learn more about these numbers, lots of articles from major news sources have been written on the tech internship salaries in the last few days. See here and here and here. And don’t get down about it- just keep working to elevate yourself in your industry, know your industry salary standard, and demand the pay you deserve! You’re worth it!

The Secret Lives of Your Friends – Their Jobs

How much do you know about the nitty gritty of what your friends do at work? When you think about it, this is where your friends spend most of their waking hours. And it’s funny how we probably don’t know much about what compromises their days. Phone calls, meetings, emailing, all of that stuff, sure. But what aspect of their job do they love the most? What gets them excited to get through the day?

When we first graduated college, office jobs were something of a novelty, and I remember emailing my friends several times a day with updates from cubicle-land. “I just got inter-officed an envelope. Awesome.” “OMG, my boss is crazy.” “Ughhhh….so bored right now. Need a coffee.”

But as we inched into our late twenties and early 30’s, the emails stopped as we became more focused and dedicated to our work. Now, while I know my friends’ job titles, I don’t know the specifics of their day. I love specifics. Call me nosy, but I want to know what a typical hour of their day looks like.

Well today I got to visit Laura at work and see what her job is like. She was visiting Southern California, where she was working as a Product Specialist for Ford Motors at the LA Auto Show. Laura’s job is a mixture of marketing and sales and it was pretty fascinating to see her in action. She travels across the country, presenting the new products to consumers. She’s interacting with consumers all day and getting sales leads. It’s also exciting to see what a non-office job really looks like. I think it’s pretty great that she doesn’t have to sit tied to a computer screen all day.

Here’s some pictures from my visit today.

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Laura and I in the crazy big Ford truck. Not sure which one this was.

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My dude, Me and Laura in front of the underside of a Ford Mustang

A ‘Braided’ Lifestyle

The other day I came across the idea of a “braided” career on Penelope Trunk’s website. Penelope is a founder of multiple start-ups including her most recent one Quistic, a site dedicated to helping people discover their next career moves. She now lives on a farm in Wisconsin with her husband and kids. She has a graduate degree in English, played professional beach volleyball, and taught herself to code. Umm…awesome. I was so impressed by her wide range of experiences and ability to not be pigeonholed by one experience.

About seven years ago, she wrote an article on her website in which she coined the term “braided career.” I so wish I had read this in 2007, when I was 24! I would have been three years out of college, and so in need of this advice.

In this article, she says unequivocally, “The most important thing in your life is the people you love, so you need to figure out how to create a work life that will accommodate that.” It’s an obvious statement, to me at least, but I think a lot of people neglect the nitty-gritty of what this actually means.

She goes on to coin the term “braided career,” writing:

“The best way to make sure you will have time and money to create the life you want is to have what I am going to start calling a braided career. Intertwine the needs of the people you love, with the work you are doing, and the work you are planning to do, when it’s time for a switch.” – Penelope Trunk, Letter to new graduates. And how about a braided career?

Can I just tell you how much I love this term? It’s such a perfect descriptor of this new career landscape many of us are navigating.

I get the impression that this post was tailored to millennials having quarter-life crises, BUT it’s absolutely applicable to anyone at any stage in their career. A key takeaway of this article is that a braided lifestyle is almost always going to be in transition because our needs and the needs of our loved ones are always in transition. It means we can’t be afraid to ditch a 70-hour a week job when it’s not aligning with our values for, let’s say, time with friends and family. We need to not let fear guide our decisions, and instead put our values first.

“It feels like you’re all over the place, it feels like you have no plan, it feels like you’re always about to spend your last cent. But you are learning to create stability through transition. You can become a master of transition and you are achieve the thing you want most: A work life that supports the values you hold dear – time, family, friends, community, passion, and fun.”

For me, the key takeaway is that we must learn to be okay with a constantly evolving career.  Like she says, stability through transition.

Choosing the Easy Career

Whenever I get blood tests, there’s always a chance I’ll faint. Even if no one’s sticking me with a needle, I may hit the floor from even simply hearing talk of medical exams or blood vessels.

I visited a relative in the hospital last year. A doctor came up to me to explain the testing and examinations they were doing. In the middle of our conversation, I began to hear the familiar ringing in my ears, and my vision started to blur over. “Excuse me,” I said to the doctor, and walked down the hospital hallway. I stood in a corner and tried to make the dizziness stop before I fainted.

I can never be a doctor.

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I sometimes work at medical shows…but I feel fine there. I haven’t fainted yet, anyway.

 

I have similar issues when I fly. During takeoff and landing, I will turn away from whoever I’m talking to. I will put down the book if I’m reading, or look solidly away from my phone. I may close my eyes. These are all preventative tactics I discovered over the years which stop me from developing motion sickness. On boats, these tactics still don’t work, and I have to take dramamine…which still may not work.

I can never be a flight attendant. Nor can I work on a ship.

There are certain careers that just don’t come naturally. You can always excel at a job if you put your mind to it, but sometimes it may be better to forsake certain vocations that are extremely easy for others but super difficult for you.

Not always, of course. If I really wanted to become a doctor or a flight attendant, I guess I could try to fight my natural sickness. But there are many people who don’t get sick at all from these things. They have a natural advantage.

There are less black and white career choices that cause a lot of confusion. I took a computer science class in college and really enjoyed it. However, I was horrible at programming. I just didn’t have a knack for it. Programs that took me two hours to create took many of my classmates 10 minutes. Sure, I’d eventually make the program work, and maybe I’d get faster if I kept at it, but it wasn’t the natural way my brain worked. I got so extremely frustrated with computer programming that I ended my minor in Computer Science and minored in Psychology instead.  Still, I wish I’d stuck it out longer– computer programming is something I still really want to do.

Then there’s acting. I love acting. I’m good at acting. But right now I don’t want it enough to go through the ‘business of acting’ – to act as a career. Some people will give up anything to be an actor- they’ll sacrifice, they’ll go through rejection after rejection, they’ll surrender time and money for quite awhile. And I admire the heck out of them. And I want to want it. But I just don’t want it enough. Especially not to go through all that. Not now, anyway.

Are you happy with your chosen career path? Or are you in a field or at a job where you feel like you’re fighting your natural instincts every day? I’m not saying it’s never worth the fight. Sometimes it totally is, if you want it bad enough. But pick your battles carefully. Look for the balance between what you’ve always been good at and what you’re willing to sacrifice for. And remember that many tasks which seem simple to you may be the same ones that cause others to faint dead away.

 

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