Tell me again who has the poor communication skills…

Things were ticking right along for your Ms. Cleanslate. I have been doing some subcontract work and had five clients through one particular company. Was doing the same type of work for each. None of the clients are at all tech-savvy, so there was a bunch of weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth every time that we added a new task to the mix.

Finally, though, everything was humming along smoothly. Or… so I thought.  In the span of 2 days, four of the five clients asked to be assigned to someone else.  Not one of them had indicated any unhappiness to me, but apparently they unloaded a litany of complaints (I am not privvy to what, exactly, the complaints were, just that they were all related to my “subpar communication skills.”)

Yet, not ONE of these people ever communicated anything to me. They never said “hey, could we…” or even “hey, why aren’t we…”  And it turns out something I thought was a completely optional service…was something that is an integral part of things and something that, apparently, the clients had asked about months ago (which was never communicated to me by either the company owner OR any of the clients).

I went to log into the work queue website to do the next task for the one who had NOT asked to be reassigned. Hmmm, my login doesn’t work.  I contact the owner of the company. No response.

Twenty-four hours pass and I finally get an email.  The upshot of which was that everything is going to shit for this person and having all my clients bail at once has been overwhelming and just added to the stress.  I ask about the login again and get told ‘oops’ but it’s 2 days later now and the login hasn’t been fixed. So, I asked if I even still have the one client. No response.

I’ve reached out via email, instant message and via social media. No response.  Yet, I see him posting away happily on Social Media.

So, at this point I am going on the assumption that I’m “done” with this particular company.   Which is fine. Because my goal for 2016 was to dump all of my subcontract work.  It’s too much like working corporate jobs.

Understand that I don’t think/feel/suffer the delusion that I am perfect. But, when I contact clients and get two-and-three word responses and then get told that I have lousy communication skills, I’m not sure that the onus is all on me.  When I contact the company owner and simply want to know if the contract is terminated and I still don’t have an answer several days later? I’m done.

Yes, there are poor communication skills happening here. No, the skills in question aren’t (or shouldn’t be) mine alone.



Post Blogging Challenge Hangover

So… MsRasa and I were both burning the candle at both ends and did a MAJOR “crash-and-burn” with the challenge and blogging in general.  Crazy busy got Crazy busier!  And then I went out of town for nearly a month and let me tell you… “working vacations” are more trouble than they’re worth.  They’re totally necessary when you’re in a situation where if you don’t work, you don’t get paid – but trying to explain that while you’d really LIKE to be up at the crack of insanity to go do touristy things, your happy hiney needs to be working doesn’t go over so well with people you’re visiting. They have this notion that you should be spending time with them, not cranking out PowerPoint Presentations and invoices!  I sometimes wonder if I will ever get to take a “real” vacation again in my lifetime.  (Real vacation = NO WORK… no emails, no client calls, etc.)  I have a feeling that a real vacation, for an entrepreneur is as elusive as Bigfoot.

So, that’s where I’ve been. MsRasa has been busy on her life path, as well.  I’m hoping she’ll come back and write some more because I need all the help I can get.  And life doesn’t seem to be slowing down any. But I am determined to ROCK Q3 and Q4 and be in a POWER POSITION come 2016.

Back to the salt mines… I sense some nastygrams in my emailbox tomorrow morning if I don’t get some things cranked out!

T is for Time

TI’m taking a break from reformatting a PowerPoint presentation to write this blog.  There are SIXTY-ONE slides in the deck. I honestly feel sorry for anyone who has to sit through a 61-slide presentation about anything.  The reformatting is tedious.  That someone (me) has to spend the time reformatting this is ridiculous. But, I’m getting paid for it (worry not, the clock is stopped whilst I do this blog post.  I may be a complainer, but I’m an ETHICAL complainer).

I’ve also never seen a PowerPoint presentation with as many Slide Masters as this one. Pick a format and stick to it, FFS.  If you want to have fun with PowerPoint, then put some interesting transitions in and call it a day. Because, with a 61-slide presentation, that’s about as much fun as you’re going to have.

It’s been an interesting few days. I’ve been working on a number of different projects, plus trying to do some Spring Cleaning.  Later today I will probably get to work on the Office.  It’s way overdue for a vacuuming. My desk needs some work, as well.  I am trying to balance getting projects done with getting the cleaning done.  And I’m trying to get some sleep in now and then, as well.

The PowerPoint presentation is taking a ton of time. It’s very tedious (I believe I mentioned that earlier).  Catching up on my blogging is taking some time, as well. But it all needs to be done, so I am just slogging through, the best I can.

And now… TIME to get back to work!

S is for Suction

SMany years ago now, I worked for a vacuum cleaner cult company for a few weeks.  I’d gone for an interview, followed up, didn’t hear anything and then, several weeks (and 2 other failed candidates) later, I was offered the job. I didn’t know the part about the 2 other failed candidates when I started.

A large part of my job was producing daily and weekly reports. This should have been easy, but there was such a convoluted way of doing it, it was a real pain.  I quickly found that the person who was in charge of forwarding me the information I needed to do the reports was often late and didn’t care one bit about whether the information was accurate. When I went to take inventory, I found a horrible mess. Things were not where they should have been, product had been taken out of sequence and there was a lot of really heavy lifting I hadn’t been told about.

The onboarding procedure for new hires was horrible and the pressure to make quota for the sales reps was unbelievable. Reps leaving the manager’s office in tears was pretty normal. Turnover was high.  I’d just learn someone’s name and they’d be gone.

When I asked a clarifying question about one of the reports in my third week of work, the manager told me I should have that all down already.  When I came in the next morning there was a note on my desk to fax an ad to the Newspaper. The ad was for my job.  When I went to talk to the manager to find out what was up, his secretary smirked and said “He only speaks to employees, you’re not one anymore”.

I never heard another peep from them.  I saw the ad for the position about every 3 weeks for months.  I have no idea how many people they ended up hiring and letting go, but I feel bad for every one of them. It was truly a job that sucked.

R is for Really Behind!

RIt’s been a busy week. And not even a good busy, more a STUPID busy.  Taking care of all sorts of crisis things and details and distractions.

And, because I’ve been dealing with all of those things, I haven’t really been here blogging like I should have been. I am going to try to get caught up this weekend, though, and finish the Blogging Challenge strong.  It’s a lot harder than you would think, blogging every day.  I even have it on my calendar. But there has been so much going on that I’ve been putting it on the back burner.

Hopefully things will calm down soon and I can get back on track!

Q is for Quest

QBecause of our house fire, we had to find a new home. This quest involved six motels, one executive suite and a hell of a lot of travel looking at houses. Unfortunately, it also involved some very questionable business practices along the way.

On my recent voyage, I broke a tooth. It happened because I trusted a dentist to do her job years ago and every single thing she did to my mouth, every filling, veneer and crown, went bad within a few years. I spent over 8K in 4 months in her office. Seriously, I would have sued her if I could. But, the long and short of it is that my tooth swelled up, causing me so much pain that my eardrum perforated and my jaw was infected, because of a missing filling in a back molar. And the one next to it rotted underneath the crown, which apparently wasn’t sealed correctly. When the crown came off, it knocked out the filling next to it. There went $1,500.00.

So, at 4:30 am, I called one of those 1-800-(find a dentist) numbers because I could not sleep. We were staying in Pueblo, CO and they set an emergency appointment 50 miles away in Colorado Springs for 7:30 am. I left at 6:30 and arrived in plenty of time, only to find out at 10 minutes to 8 that the doctor would not be in that day due to a seminar. (There was a note taped to the window). So I get set to drive back, very upset and still in pain. I called to inform “the service” that the dentist was out of town. They were very apologetic, asked me three times if I was in the right building and at the right suite number. “Yep, I’m looking right at it, they are NOT here. No one is, not even the receptionist.”

Then they set another appointment in Pueblo for 9 am. Good. I get back in the car, clutching my face, barely able to breathe over my teeth and drive 50 more miles. I call from the parking lot, to be sure I’m in the right place. That dentist’s office told me the doctor was on vacation this whole week and they had blocked that time off with the 1-800 service. HMMM. I was not even on the schedule, no one was, except those in need of routine cleanings. They too, were very sorry, but could not help me.

So, I call AGAIN. “Well, we’re very sorry, but we do have another dentist back up in the Springs, if you want to turn around and head up there now.”

Another 50 miles? NO. My face was in agony, I needed some relief NOW. So I sought out the nearest Urgent Care. They, in turn, had a 3-hour waiting list and no chairs to sit on. Not one. They were all occupied. And sick children were running everywhere. I almost started to cry. So we went back to the hotel and I put ice on my cheek, figured out how much OTC pain medication would kill me, then backed the dosage off a little bit. It was a rough day.

When I awoke at 7:40 this morning after an extremely fitful night, I had some new e-mails.

1-800-GO-EFF-YOURSELF wanted to know if I had enjoyed my dental experience and would I please rate their service. OH-HO. YEEEESSSSS, my pretty, I will rate your service. But first, I have a few questions for you: When did it become common practice to waste people’s time, blame THEM for your mistakes and generally not give a sh*t when you send them on a 100-mile, 3-hour wild goose chase? How is this good business? Do you expect these dentists to keep using your “referral” service when this is the way you run their patients around?

But, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The dentist in CO Springs just called as I was writing this. They have an opening at 11:45. At least I can get some pain meds and antibiotics for the trip home.

P is for Platform Perils

PI’ve been in my field for about 30 years. I strive to be one of the best in the business. But, periodically, I fail. Miserably.  Such was the case today.

I have a client who, I have to admit, has sortve been a thorn in my side for a while. One of those people who, no matter what I do, she finds fault with it. I do social media work for her and I check up to make sure things are posting where and how they should be.  As so many who deal in social media do, she prefers her post scheduled in Hootsuite. Fine. I personally dislike Hootsuite and one of the reasons why will be covered in a minute.

I schedule posts about a week at a time for several of this clients accounts. I periodically check Hootsuite to make sure that the scheduled posts aren’t rejected. Everything has been looking fine. I didn’t give it a second thought. Until today.

I was out running typical Saturday errands and got a frantic message from the client that her posts had not been posting for the past week on one of the forums where she posts. I don’t know WHY I thought she said Platform A, but she really said Platform B.  Probably because I unplug on the weekends (from work stuff) and was trying to deal with everything from my phone (which I don’t have platform A loaded on). I checked from my tablet and all seemed well (still not catching that I was looking at the wrong platform).

When I got home and back to my computer, something compelled me to read her message again and I discovered that I had been referencing THE WRONG PLATFORM. (Cue feeling like a gigantic idiot) Not only that, but on the platform she had been referencing, yeah, the posts weren’t there.  Did some poking around and other Hootsuite posted posts were not posting properly to that platform, either.

Did a quick internet search and found out that there had been several people who had complained that Platform B posts from Hootsuite weren’t posting. The absolutely maddening part? There was no error coming up on the Hootsuite end, it was showing that they were posting.

So now, I had a stupid reaction because I looked at THE WRONG THING when I really should have been unplugged for the weekend in the first place. (Insert cussing and facepalming here)

Emailed off an apology but am thinking that maybe this is The Universe trying to “force” a breakup with a client who, if I am honest with myself, is not my ideal client.  Something tells me that the Administrative Professional’s Day flowers are NOT coming to my house this year. Phooey.

O is for “Ooops”

OSo, I can’t even really make an excuse for what happened yesterday.  I have no idea how I managed to just totally NOT post (well, there’s a post there now, but it’s a pretty pathetic one).  My only thought is that having to get up really early on Friday morning combined with a week that ended up, somehow, exploding leads to posts not happening.

If you’ve every transitioned from one system/process to another, then you’ll know what’s up with things getting a little weird and having “oops” moments (or days) happen.

Hopefully the letter “P” will be less peculiar.


M is for Motherhood

MProbably the hardest thing a woman will ever do in her career, or indeed in life, is juggle working with motherhood. On top of actually having the baby, there’s babysitters to interview and/or daycare centers to explore. Which one can I trust? What can I afford? Will I be able to get one to watch my kids if I have to stay late?

Now, I have heard horror stories about daycare centers. Those who single out the poorer children, even spraying the “smelly” ones with Glade while they slept. (Get a bathtub and a washer/dryer in that facility if you’re concerned about those kids.) IMHO, those are horrible things to do to children and even worse to show the others. Laughter and derision was not something I wanted to teach my child.

In spite of having a college degree, often when one moves to a new city — a big, unknown entity – one must start towards the bottom. Luckily, I was 25, and this was still a viable option for me. But three years later, I still wasn’t making much more than I had when I graduated. Consequently, I was only making $8.50/hr. 18 years ago. Daycare was charging $7.00 an hour on a day-by-day basis and it was only slightly less expensive to pay by the week. One place charged $10.00 per minute for every minute a person was late after 6 pm. That made staying late, getting even more stuck in traffic, having an accident or a flat tire a VERY expensive proposition. Denver was famous for its accidents too. They had an interchange called the mousetrap, where two interstates intersected. Narrow and dangerous, it provided steady income for tow trucks, who just sat by the dozens on the shoulders and waited for the inevitable. It was even part of the traffic report, every day.

I dropped my daughter off for one day and went to my interviews. Just a few months old, she screamed the entire time she was there. Another, private sitter, said she couldn’t handle watching my daughter because her “cry was obnoxious”. I tried several other facilities but couldn’t escape the sinking feeling whilst looking at those lonely cribs, that Eryn would be left to cry herself purple in that little, dark room. Finally the feeling of foreboding became so overwhelming, I spoke my husband about it and together, we decided I should stay home. Making an extra $2-2.50 an hour wasn’t going to pay for the gasoline, car servicing, dry cleaning, parking and lunches I would need, much less the mental anguish of knowing my beloved was miserable.

So I got to be a stay-at-home-mom. BEST DECISION I EVER MADE, by the way. However, there were those who always accused me of “pissing my college education down my leg”. They’re wrong. My daughter is bright, beautiful, loving, funny, thoughtful and has a heart of gold for the less fortunate, especially animals. Not to say that yours aren’t. Understand, unlike so many others in my life, that I am not attacking working mothers, simply defending the choice I made not to work. There is a difference.

Years later, I heard a radio DJ complaining that his wife felt put down by others for being a SAH mom. SO MANY people called in, one being a third grade teacher. She said:  “I can tell after being with my children for only one week, with no other insight into their families, which are home-raised and which have been left to daycare. The daycare children are often the bullies, taking other kids’ crayons and pushing them down on the playground. The home-raised kids were (usually) the ones who picked the poor kid up and gave them back their crayons. We are raising generations of takers,” she insisted, “because a lot of these children just aren’t given the attention they need.”

I felt much better about being a SAHM after that. Not to say that your kids are the takers, just that being a mother is full-time job too, and it definitely has its rewards.