Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Giving generously...

This is actually a much more complicated matter than you'd think primarily because the term "generous" is so damn relative.  

You can give your time, your money, your energy....or maybe you give all three.  

Giving can be to a charity, a stranger, or to your friends and family.   

None are any better than the other and people who brag about what they give are probably doing it for the wrong reasons.  

So to summarize the beginning statements, all giving is good, and I try not to judge another's actions in terms of giving especially when we're talking about monetary giving.

However....(you knew it was coming didn't you?)...I am struggling a bit with a few things I've seen lately.  

There is NOTHING wrong with being frugal.  I am all for it.  Most of my frugal friends are the ones that are independent, pay their bills on time, and never ask for hand outs.  Sometimes these are my favorite people because (if you know me at all) you know that I LOVE self-reliant people.  But, there are times where frugal becomes cheap/tacky and that's just not good for anyone.

An example:

There is a lovely friend in my life who I would not call frugal.  She gives selflessly to others as often as possible.  She is a loving mother and friend and though not always the best with her money, she is a good person with a good heart who gets by just fine.  Sometimes she lives paycheck to paycheck and I doubt she rarely has money to donate to a cause.  But if you're hosting a fundraiser, she'll be there ready to run that 5k, or help you promote your event, or give you old clothing or baby items for the less fortunate.  She could sell a lot of these things and make a good chunk of money - money that she probably needs.  But, that's just not her.  If she has something she doesn't need, and you do need it, it's yours.  No questions asked.  

The friend described above has donated endless items to families in need.  A lot of these donations were things I asked of her.  At the time, I was happy to be able to be the conduit between someone who no longer needed said items to someone who did need them.  

Dun dun dun...I now find out that the family who often complains of being poor actually has a good chunk of money in the back (again relative but still).  Based on this, and a few examples of being not so generous in the money department, I am at a loss.  And here's the sad part, now I don't really want to help them - at least not monetarily.  Now, if I had known all along, had they not cried poor, I wouldn't care! It would still be a family that needs something getting it from a friend who would have been happy to give it.  But a part of me is slightly angry, that my friend who does the giving has SO MUCH LESS than the family doing the taking. 

So here's the moral of the story, if you are not BFF's with someone who is willing to give you something you need, and you have money in the bank that is above and beyond a few months worth of your monthly bills, you absolutely do not just take.  Maybe you say thank you with a gift card to Target or Starbucks, maybe you cook a few casseroles, or maybe you send a check that is a small portion of the value - like if you bought the things at a yard sale or thrift store - BUT YOU DO SOMETHING.  If you really are broke, then appreciate the generosity of the giver, say thank you and write a card.  (This does not apply the same way if it is family or your best friend where you share all your amenities the same way --- but frankly it SHOULD still apply in some small way.)

But don't just be takers people. We're better than that.  


Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Patience (or a lack thereof)...

So I have never had a lot of patience.  I can be empathetic.  I can be understanding.  But, I can rarely be patient.  I try my best not to be ridiculous. I have varying amounts of success at this.

Right now, I am waiting to hear about a new client - one that I REALLY want.  It's a non profit that is doing really cool things with sustainable charity - where for profit businesses fund non profit ventures.  After working with many philanthropies through the years, and seeing the constant need for donations, I am excited to see these innovative people find means to fund their charity that they control.  The new client works with lots of philanthropies that take on this business model, coaches them, finds grants for them etc.

I am having a very hard time waiting to hear about this client because I think this would be a great fit for me.  Finally, I potentially have a job that has meaningful and challenging work.  So, my excitement has caused me to have some definite ants in my pants.

Also, with all these back to school pictures floating around facebook, I want to also "get back to school."  I always enjoy a slower summer but come Fall, I'd like to be up and running.  It's just time to tackle some big things.  

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Knowing when to say no

So, one of my biggest faults has always been an inability to say no.  I just suck at it.  And while I think saying yes (more often than not) is a powerful and great thing, as an (almost) 29 year old woman, I need to know how to graciously turn someone/something down.

This becomes even more important when you are a freelance consultant.  All work is not created equal by any means! And there is an opportunity cost that comes from each job I take.  If I am working, I don't have the time to be looking for new jobs (that might be better) and the time versus money debate is important to me.

So far, I have liked (or at the minimum learned from) all of my freelance work. I've met a lot of new people and tried things that were out of my comfort zone.  None of this has been mind blowing but I feel like it has been worthwhile.

This week, for the first time, I turned down a rather lucrative consulting gig.  This was hard because it met many of my criteria - good money, flexible hours, home office, a cause I could support - but here was the rub - I didn't like the people.  They were disorganized.  It didn't seem like their heart was in it and the main guy, well, he's not the nicest person.  So, I turned it down.

I turned it down not just because I didn't like the people but also because saying yes to that job might mean saying no to something better.  It's a roll of the dice for sure, but I'm pretty confident I made the right choice.

Monday, August 12, 2013

Time

I am a person that is meant to be busy.  I'm not supposed to have a lot of free time.  I am very good at finding things to do with myself for the most part but occasionally, I simply run out of tasks. (like.right.now.)  It is currently 9:46 a.m. and I have already completed almost everything I need to do for the day.  Now, I'm sure I'll work on some things I don't need to do but there is a lot of day left to fill....

These are the times that I am slightly jealous of my multitudes of friends who can throw on some sweats, turn on Sex and the City, and veg for hours.  That's just not me.  I am not great at watching tv at all.  While I enjoy it, 95% of the time I'd like to be doing something else while watching it...(This drives Jayson crazy so I've done my best to learn to just sit, watch and relax.)

So, what do other people do with themselves when they have time/energy to burn?  Normally, I plan events, work on charity stuff, work out etc etc.  I can still do some of that but again, it's not yet 10 a.m. and I can't work out until dinner time.

Normally, my to do list is long and there is great joy in marking things off of it one at a time.  I guess I've just gotten through most of it magically! You'd think this would be a good thing....crazy, crazy girl, I am.

Wish me luck world.  I need to go tackle something now....

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Grateful

Over the past few weeks, I have been lucky enough to see some of my favorite women from college. These women are smart, passionate, interesting girls who are all doing incredible things with their lives, both personally and in their careers. I am incredibly grateful to have so many great women in my life. 

Despite everyone successes, however, I'm grateful for another thing too. When I talk to all of these girls at the various bachelorette parties I've been attending, one things come out over and over again.  My friends are tired. Not all of them, but most of them. They work 60 hours a week. They go to school part time and work full time. They have more cases and depositions and business travel then sometimes they can handle. While I think most of them are happy, they admittedly do not all have a good work-life balance. 

I won't say that I've taken my newfound freedom for granted. I cherish my work-life balance and the fact that the life is the bigger part of that balance every day. But I will say that I think I may have begun to forget how different my life was. 

My girlfriend was describing how getting away for the weekend is almost a chore. That often all she does is rest, play with her dog, and hang out on the couch on the weekends because she just has to have that quiet time. She still enjoys wine and she still likes to go out but she said she doesn't do it often.

I remember that feeling. I remember being so tired that on the weekend, I didn't want to go play. Now I can take a Friday off to go out of town without a moment's hesitation.  Being able to sleep in a bit on Monday to rest up from such a long weekend, that's also fine. So while I may not think everything in my career is perfect, I do appreciate the freedom that this new life has afforded me. 

They say the grass is always greener on the other side and sometimes that's true, but, in this case, I think my grass is pretty green.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Mentor 1

Things I've learned from my mentors:

Over the years, I've been lucky enough to have a wide variety of strong and caring female (and male, from time to time) mentors. I've learned from them on lots of different issues, but the common theme from them all had been to just believe in myself.

My first real mentor (other than my mother, of course, who has mentored me since birth) was a professor in my business school. I took my first marketing class with her at age nineteen and was immediately and forevermore hooked. I found the psychology behind decision making fascinating and loved the enthusiasm she brought to every lecture. 


Over time, we built a friendship and later she asked me to work for her on some of her academic studies. I enjoyed the research side an incredible amount and felt like I learned from her every time we met in some way. She always took the time to ask me how life was and to talk to me about my plans for the future. It was because of her that I even considered applying for my MBA.  She always pushed me to go for things out of my comfort zone - whatever they may be - and basically always taught me not to let fear hold me back. 

A few years after graduation, I called her to get some advice on work drama. I was up for a very large promotion which was great, but it was for a position that I had no experience with. I honestly wasn't sure if I could do it and agonized over the decision. A very large part of me wanted to just stay in my current, cushy, safe job (where I was very happy). After a five minute conversation where we outlined the pros and cons, she summarized her thoughts into two statements:

One. If everyone likes you, you probably aren't doing your job.

Two. You are Amanda f@$(ing Rowe. Of course, you can do this new job.

I felt a bit silly doubting myself after hearing my mentor (who rarely curses btw) say that.

Needless to say, I took the new job and while it wasn't always sunshine and roses, it was a great experience that opened a lot of doors for my future success.

I love that woman.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Mentors

So to move on to something positive and hopeful after yesterday's rather dismal post...

I think I'm going to start a series on the various wonderful women (and men, but mostly women) who have mentored me through the years.  These people, at one point or another, have truly taken me under their wing and helped me both grow and succeed. While I have always tried to thank each of them for what they have done, I truly believe that, in many cases, it would be close to impossible for me to repay them.  I'm sure they would say that they never did anything out of the ordinary, but just having faith in a young person and encouraging them that they can do more, and be more is such a powerful gift.

As I've gotten older, I've tried to "pay it forward" and be a mentor to women a few years younger than me.  I've found that it's just as rewarding to be the mentor as the mentee.  I think the bond you build with someone while helping them grow is an awesome thing.

So, women should do it more often! Invest in someone else. Drink some coffee with them. Help them with their resume. Talk to them about problems at work and encourage them to tackle crazy hard obstacles.  Be a sounding board if they're dealing with harassment.  Just be there.  It's worth it. I promise.