Managing Partner at Blue Book Ventures. Inspirational Business Leader, Workplace Pundit, Best-Selling Author & Venture Capitalist
A Little About Me
Richard A. Moran is a San Francisco based business leader, workplace pundit, bestselling author, and venture capitalist. He is best known for his series of humorous business books beginning with bestselling, Never Confuse a Memo with Reality and is credited with starting the genre of "Business Bullet Books."
When it comes to our careers, each of us has a set of lights flashing that are worthy of our attention.… https://t.co/E6CimsNNCm
We’ve all been there, you are exhausted from working too hard or suffering from jet lag or you binge watched “Game of Thrones” until 3:00 a.m., or you forgot to set the alarm and you know what happens next. Instead of waking up at 7:00 a.m., you open your eyes and it is 8:30 a.m. on a day when it is important to be on time. It’s a sick feeling, like you might throw up. You jump out of bed, start cursing at yourself, now what?
You ask yourself, do I have a good excuse? Traffic? Ran out of gas? Uber driver crashed? My crock-pot caught on fire? The White Walkers stole your car? The Rack Monster held you prisoner? Anything that will say, “It wasn’t my fault, really, really, pinky swear!!”
The excuse sort of doesn’t matter. You missed something and the first thing you need is a recovery plan and to outline some thoughts in your head. Some things to think about…
Are you just late or did you miss the whole thing?
Can I text someone to see what is going on and if they even miss me?
Is it my meeting? Can I just reschedule?
Is my boss there? Is anyone else late?
Is it a meeting about cutting jobs? Did they talk about me?
Are all the presentations on my laptop? Is anyone looking for them?
Do I have “bed head” and will it go away in time?
If you are late because you didn’t get up in time, you have to deal with it. Unless you have a really good excuse that involves blood or flames, the excuse probably doesn’t matter. You are just plain late so move on and try to avoid it in the future. If you are chronically late, the reason could be something other than a faulty alarm. It could be your job itself.
When you dread going to work, you will oversleep. When you love your job, you will jump out of bed (usually) in order to get there and contribute. There is always traffic and always reasons to be late if you can’t stand showing up. Chances are, if you don’t like your job and always oversleep, you will be ill-prepared too. If you like your job, you will be ready for what the day brings.
Showing up on time is important but if dread is a part of your work, it could be time for something new. Showing up on time and being ready and able to do great things in a role you love is better.
And if you still oversleep all the time, it could be time to get a dog.
We hear all the same well-worn business phrases all the time. We’ve become soooo accustomed to hearing them that we don’t really hear them. Take the phrase, “At the end of the day.” Unless you’re speaking about the company happy hour that starts at 6 p.m. stay away from using “at the end of the day.” The phrase started out meaning “ultimately,” or “When everything else has been taken into consideration.” Now the phrase means, “I am about to yammer on.”
We have all been “thinking outside the box” until we get “thrown under the bus.” So let’s “open the kimono” and “take this discussion to the next level.” The phrase I want to explore is “It’s not rocket science.”
Sometimes organizational issues that we incur do require rocket science. Well, not exactly, but sometimes we need to act like we think rocket scientists do. Put another way, although rockets or space exploration may not be involved, some organizational issues require the same rigor of thought and thorough analysis as a scientist may apply. Think of complex matrixed organizations that are trying to determine clear accountability. Think of software companies that are battling cyber security threats. Think of social media companies that are sorting out privacy and political issues. Think of a stodgy company that needs forward looking research in order to grow. I would compare some of these problems to rocket science.
When the “low hanging fruit” went away, rocket science began to be required. Although it can be a relative term, applying rigor and creative thinking to problems, like rocket scientists do, will make your organization more effective and efficient. I highly recommend it.
When you hear the phrase, “It’s not rocket science”, maybe if you approach the problem with the zeal of a rocket science, it would stay solved.
Needless to say, I am not a rocket scientist and I am in awe of those who are. Maybe if I had passed college Physics I could have been one. But I didn’t, “it is what it is.”
Have you had someone tell you, “he or she has a ‘good job?” You don’t know what it means, but you are jealous. Have you ever accepted a new job and on your first day at work you realize immediately that you made a mistake? Have you ever taken on a new assignment and realized you should have asked more questions? Have you ever felt joy when you left a job that you never liked, to take one that you know will be better? Have you ever had a job that you couldn’t imagine not being a part of your life because you enjoyed it so much? (Lucky you!)
Sure, you may have a short commute and good pay and benefits and free coffee but does that make for a good job? Not necessarily. Based on my observations over the years and lots of research, here is what makes for a good job:
Start with the people you work with. Colleagues who support you, help you and are generous with time and expertise are only the beginning. All of your best friends don’t need to be at work but you should look forward to being around your team. And if your boss is interested in your career and supportive in your day-to-day you will truly enjoy your work. If you dread being around your co-workers or boss, could be trouble.
Then, the autonomy you have over your work life is key. Consider the decisions you can make in dealing with customers or in how a project is completed or how and where your day is spent. The more control you have over your schedule, routine and decision making when it comes to your job, the more you will like it. If you hear the phrase, “Check your brain, at the door”, it may be time to check out.
Lastly, and most importantly, meaning is what puts the joy in a job. Ask any firefighter or special education teacher who are always the most satisfied of anyone who works. You might be curing cancer or the environment; but deriving meaning from a career could be as simple as feeling like you are contributing in a meaningful way to the organization’s mission. Meaning could be derived from the satisfaction that you know you are doing a good job. Meaning could be derived from the sense that you are providing for your family. You define what meaning is for you.
Now you have the answer to the eternal question, “what is a good job?” OK, maybe it’s not just three factors. Depending on the career, there could be hundreds of additional things that make for a good job ranging from foosball tables to safety. But without people, autonomy and meaning, that good job might just be an aspiration.