Monday, January 24, 2011

In Good Company

Post by Jenny

Fortune Magazine recently released its annual list of the 100 Best Companies to Work For (shouldn’t that be the 100 Best Companies for Which to Work?). If you’re employed by one of the top 100, you have my congratulations. I’m afraid my best shot at making the list is being hired as a grocery sacker at my local Whole Foods.

I occasionally think of myself as self-employed, but only in the loosest sense of the word. (In actuality, I feel more like the sole volunteer at the world’s smallest non-profit.) But as I read through some of the perks that make the top businesses desirable, I realized that my little ‘company’—let’s call it Writer in the Basement—is a pretty great place to work. It has on-site child-care, gym, medical, and spa facilities (if candles and scented hand lotion count as ‘spa’). It is pet-friendly, has a laundry service and a recycling program, and is woman-owned and operated. It does fall short on diversity, though I like to listen to world music when I write.

But there are things I can do to be a better employer for myself and a better employee to myself.

As my employer, I can:
Set clear, achievable goals. I often float along with only a vague sense of what I would kinda-sorta like to possibly happen someday in the unspecified future.
Praise every success, no matter how small. I’m the first one to brush off good news by focusing on everything I haven’t accomplished.
Use failure as an opportunity to learn. I’m not sure I believe that when one door closes, another automatically opens, but it’s important to know why the door closed in the first place.
Provide a positive environment. A writer should have a comfortable chair, good lighting, and perhaps a fern.
Allow for sick days. Everyone occasionally needs time to rest and recuperate.

As my employee, I can:
Put in the hours. We’ve all known someone who misses work for every reason under the sun. Sometimes I’m that person.
Innovate and take risks. Habit and complacency don’t inspire creativity.
Stay positive. The occasional gripe session around the coffee pot is okay, but no one likes a whiner.
Keep my work area clean. It reflects a professional attitude.
Take advantage of opportunities for continuing education. Conferences and classes are worth the investment.

Who knows…maybe someday I’ll make the list of ‘100 Best Pretend Companies Where One Person Spends a Substantial Amount of Time, and Occasionally Money, Chasing the Dream of Finally Becoming a Real, Honest-to-Goodness Writer.”

What keeps your writing biz running smoothly?


Name: Luana Krause said...

Inspiring post. I'm at a cross roads in my writing career and need all the encouragement I can get. Thanks!

Michelle Mach said...

A fresh take on the working-at-home dilemma. I find I'm easily bribed, too. ("If you finish that article, you can have chocolate!")

Jenny said...

Luana, sometimes I feel that I'm at a crossroads every time I turn around. Good luck!

You're right, Michelle...chocolate can be a powerful motivational tool!

Patricia Stoltey said...

Excellent post, Jenny.

The things that keep my writing business running smoothly are the daily-updated, prioritized To Do list, plenty of time off for the fun stuff, and a large stash of quality dark chocolate in my office in case of emergencies.

Cascia said...

Great article! I'm going to have to stash some chocolate for myself too. I need more motivation for my "Writer in the Basement" business.

Jenny said...

Pat, you've inspired me to do better with my To-Do lists.

Thanks, Cascia!

I'm glad we're all in agreement about this chocolate thing.

Guinevere said...

Fun post! Makes me want to buy a fern for my home office... :)

Julie Hedlund said...

"Perhaps a fern." Indeed! Made me laugh out loud. Thanks!

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