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."
Some jobs are so enjoyable that you might consider showing up even if you weren’t on the payroll. It’s a rare occurrence but such jobs should be enjoyed because one like it may never happen again.
Example One: An early job for me in my career mosaic was as a lifeguard on the ocean. I was perched on the beach all day in an elevated stand enjoying the sun and water and all things beach related. There were rescues and emergencies but those situations only enhanced the job because in those cases I was helping others. I was surrounded by lifeguard partners, friends and special people that made the experience even more exceptional. And I was paid.
Any one who works as a taster in a candy factory, in animal rescue facilities or in the ski patrol might identify with the “getting paid for this?” question.
Example Two, and the other dimension to the “getting paid for this…” question is from the dark side. Amanda was a longtime employee of a government agency. Her job was to verify signatures and file documents for future reference. After twenty-five years on the job no one had ever asked for her to pull or verify a document. Not one.
Amanda’s job is an example of a situation where you are getting paid although you know you are really not doing anything. You are not adding value, you are bored, you are not being productive, or helping the organization in any way you can discern. In short, you can’t believe no one knows that you are hanging out being sort of busy, drawing a paycheck and being a drag on the success of the organization. And you are getting paid for it.
People who work in civil service, in the bowels of large corporations or unsuccessful organizations might identify with this conundrum.
If you have an Example One job you are lucky. If you have an Example Two job you should either look for another job or hope you are never discovered. Most jobs fall between the two examples given but the point is, someone is paying you to do something. The more closely aligned to the core of the business, the more likely it is that you will feel like your efforts make a difference and that you will be well compensated. Ask yourself, who is paying you and for what activity.
What you do should be related to what the organization says they do. If you work for FEDEX, one would hope you are doing something that help with deliveries. If you work for Chipotle you should be doing something that relates to food. If you work in a professional service business you should be doing something that serves clients in a way that makes them want to pay for it.
It’s not a mystery. A truly special organization will try to create roles that will make people say, “I can’t believe I am getting paid for this”. On the way to “special” the least one should expect is a line of sight to feeling great about making a contribution because you are being paid to do just that.
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.”