Add That to the List of Things I Need to Get Better At

One of the fun things you get to do at my job is have casual conversations with the CEO. He doesn’t have enough time in a day to spend with everyone, so he started organizing meetings with groups of staff to get to know everybody better. My turn took place earlier this week and it was an enlightening session.

He shared about the company, how we got our current office, what the industry and our competitors are up to and several anecdotes over an hour. But what left an impression on me was how he ended the session. He said (I paraphrase), “If you were me for a day, what would you do?”

My mind blanked. I had no clue what to say. “I’d give George a lot of money!” I blurted out. Not the answer he was looking for. So the question was directed to my colleagues until it was my turn again. “I don’t know what to say,” I confessed. “But if I think of something, I’ll send you a message.”

“Sure”, he replied.

At first, I didn’t think much of it. It was a casual question, right? For fun, get to know the staff, and see what they would do if we were in his shoes.

But then I started to overanalyze it, like I always do. What if this was some sort of test?

After some quick research, it turned out that it’s a pretty common question people ask when they want to see how others think strategically. Upon learning that, I was like, “Ohhhhhhh.” Guess I bombed the test.

Not that it mattered, I was unprepared, and if you know me, I’m not great at answering questions on the spot. Especially if it’s about something I’m unfamiliar with. Running a company? I don’t even know where to begin.

Okay, that’s not true. I know a little bit. You see, before I became a book purchaser at Big Bad Wolf, I was brought on to help set up and run a charity organization. I’ll spare you the details, but basically, it never took off due to some issues. Eventually, I was asked to join Big Bad Wolf and since I was already working with the people there, I agreed.

But during those six months, I helped set up the charity as a company. I had to get the company name registered, open a bank account, and do a whole bunch of miscellaneous things that I don’t remember anymore. So I did have some related knowledge. But I digress.

Like I was saying; I’m terrible at answering questions on the spot. Especially, if I’m unprepared. Which was something I told my boss during my 1:1 last year. He mentioned that I seemed to freeze whenever he questioned me. I replied, “slow brain.” He asked if I was serious, I told him no but I asked to be informed of questions ahead of time so I could prepare.

I’m not witty. Thinking of dubious nicknames for people, I can do (alliterations are awesome) but when it comes to work-related queries that matter? Struggle city. It’s one of my weaknesses that I want to work on. The other is procrastination – but that’s a story for another day.

Taking my time to think of things to say is one of the pros of online dating. You can spend as long as you want thinking of a good response. There’s no need to answer quickly (until you go out, but by then, hopefully, you have your ducks in a row). Unfortunately, not every situation in life gives you time to formulate an answer.

Like those times I applied to be an air steward, back in 2008. I was stumped during the first round of the interview process. All the tryouts were gathered in a room and were asked a question to proceed to the next stage. In both interviews, I failed the first round.

In the first interview, I was asked, “What’s more important to you – money or power?” In the second interview, I was asked who was my favorite actor and why. Stupid, irrelevant questions to me back then, because I didn’t know their true purpose (you could tell, I didn’t prepare). But I left both interviews feeling puzzled and confused.

Turns out they were testing my critical thinking skills and personality based on how I answered. Which brings me back to my chat with the CEO. If I were him for a day, what would I do?

Honestly, I wouldn’t change anything. Even if we did, there’s no guarantee it would improve the company’s position. With every change, we could be facing new problems instead. I’m confident about the company’s direction and leadership. Even if we don’t make a triumphant exit, that’s okay. I’ve learned a lot in the past two years. It’s been a fantastic ride.

Is it challenging? Yes. Time consuming? Yes. But that’s how most jobs are. I’m just grateful to have the opportunity to be part of this journey.

Sure, it sounds like a cop-out answer and exposes my lack of ambition or vision, but I genuinely know I don’t know enough to take the wheel for a second. Sometimes I’d rather not say anything at all. I know my limits.

Things can be better — but they can always be better. That’s life. It’s human nature to never be truly satisfied.

Am I overthinking what was meant to be a casual closing statement? Maybe. But I’m glad it gave me something to write about.

Click, Break, Repeat

I’m a curious guy. I like clicking all the buttons in programs or pushing every button on a computer until I learn about what they do or things break. I enjoy discovering and experiencing new things. I like to try everything before forming an opinion.

After all, there are some things out there you don’t know you need or enjoy until you’ve tried them. Like drugs.

So when my company announced a monthly budget for mental health, I figured – hey, why not use it? I had never visited a therapist before and was curious about it. I didn’t think I needed mental help, but also I didn’t know if I didn’t need it.

With that in mind, I went in with an open mind.

I entered therapists near me in Google, and a center popped up a few minutes away from home. Sweet! Sent them an email to inquire about the price and process, and received a reply the next day. Gave them my WhatsApp number and I continued the conversation there.

I had a conversation with the person running the account and booked myself an appointment shortly after. On the day of the appointment, I arrived at the center about five minutes early and was instructed to register myself.

After that, I entered a room and waited for the therapist.

She arrived after a few minutes and asked me what’s up? I told her I had this budget to spend, wasn’t sure if I needed therapy, and was giving it a shot. She nodded and asked me what she could help me with. I told her about my work-related problems.

If you were expecting some tea, sorry to disappoint.

We spoke for almost an hour, and she was unbiased and remained neutral throughout the whole session. The best part is, that she gave me some actionable advice, which I’ll share below. Hopefully, it can be useful to some of you too.

Problem: Procrastination/Staying Focused

  • Measure the time you spend procrastinating
  • Once you know how long you’re procrastinating each day, shorten those breaks
  • Each week, try to reduce those unproductive minutes (e.g. 2 hours to 1.5 hours, to 1 hour, to 45 minutes, and so on)
  • Take short breaks every time you lose focus. Leave your desk and walk around, talk to people, then come back later
  • Write down your tasks and if possible, the time it takes to complete them, that will help you allocate your time each day

Imposter Syndrome:

  • If you feel undeserving of compliments, look for proof of why you think you’re doing a bad job instead of looking for proof that a compliment is insincere

General Mental Self-Care Tips:

  • Ask yourself how you feel every morning, talk to yourself. Voicing it out can help you understand yourself
  • Have something to look forward to every day. It can be as simple as watching a show or hanging out with a friend. Set a reward for yourself each day

And that sums up my very first therapy session. Did it change me? Maybe. I did walk away with new knowledge. So what did I think of therapy?

Therapists only know what you reveal to them. The quality of their advice is going to be based on how much or what you let them know. If you don’t give them anything to work with, they won’t be able to help you much.

After my first experience, I’ve concluded that it’s not something I would pay so much for but because I get it for ‘free’, I wouldn’t mind going back again. Maybe I’d try other therapists just to see how different it can be.

For now, I’ll try practicing what the therapist suggested and see if it helps me with my work. I’ll report in a few weeks, hopefully with good news.

In the meantime, here’s a related song that features the Number 1 Hot New Band, Hot Mulligan. Happy Mental Awareness Week (one month late)!

Embracing Change; A One-Year Check-in

When are you going to write something that’s not an advertisement for your next show?

Today, I guess.

In case you weren’t aware, it’s the third quarter of 2023. Time really flew by this year. Speaking of time, I want to write something about that in the future. Thanks, Mr. Procrastination.

So yeah, back to the date. Can you believe we’re already here? On the eve of my very first extended holiday since 2019, I thought I’d check in with you guys. All ten of you loyal visitors, thank you 🙏.

Just so you know, this post won’t have any tea. For non-responders, that’s the word my colleagues use to refer to any gossip going around the office. If you were expecting to catch some on this blog, feel free to click the X, no exit intent scripts here 🤭.

I’ve crossed the one-year mark at! It was back in May but I didn’t allocate enough brainpower to write a post then. Since I’ve got time to spare tonight, I can say something about it. Also, yesterday was the first day we moved into our brand-spanking new office! It’s a nice place.

When I first joined the company, it was a humbling moment for me. I had to throw out everything I knew about writing blogs. It was a whole new ball game. All the processes and instructions I had to follow made me feel like my previous jobs were way too easy.

I eventually got into the groove of how things worked in the content department and managed to settle into a routine. Things were fine and dandy until earlier this year I was given some unexpected news. I was told that I would be transferred to the growth department.

I was worried. Was this a performance improvement plan? Did the company want to let me go? My manager tried to reassure me, saying that I was capable of the job, which was why I was chosen. Even though I nodded in agreement, in the back of my mind there was always doubt.

I knew nothing about growth, why would they transfer me? That’s what they do to employees companies want to fire, right? Give them impossible tasks so you have a reason to let them go.

It’s just a trial – if you don’t like it, you can always come back.

But what if I failed this trial? Wouldn’t that make me unworthy of working here? If I’m not fit for one department, why would any other team want me? Illogical, I know, but my confidence was pretty low at that time. I knew I had no choice but to succeed.

So, I did what humans do best. Adapt. Or at least, I did my best to.

I won’t lie, the first month was hell. I felt as useless as a one-legged man in a butt-kicking contest. I was constantly on my toes, expecting to be called into a meeting with my boss and told I was gonna get laid off.

The trial week ended and I was given more work to do. In addition to the tasks I had no experience doing, I had to supplement my knowledge and skills by enrolling in online courses. Thinking back, those were some pretty long weeks.

To my patient and supportive colleagues, thank you for helping me ease into the role.

After a month, it was time for my first appraisal as a member of the growth team. The moment of truth.

Why did you rate yourself so low? When I brought you in, I wasn’t expecting magic. I just wanted to see consistent improvement from you and you’ve shown me that.

Those words allowed me to breathe a sigh of relief. I wasn’t a massive failure and still had a future in the company. Phew.

I survived the rest of the first year, officially as a member of the growth department, and was bestowed a new title. Sweet.

Although I haven’t fully settled into the growth team or fallen into a routine – yet; I doubt it’ll be any time soon as I’ve got plenty to learn. However, I am still around and should be for the foreseeable future (barring some unfortunate circumstances) and that makes me happy.

Congratulations on the new office, This marks an exciting step forward towards a promising future. Interestingly, we can now claim to be closer to the stars than we were a year ago — courtesy of our towering position on the 41st floor 🚀🏙️.