Posted by Amanda Chapel
Happy Holidays Amanda! Well, almost. I am writing you because I am totally freaking out. This will be my first Christmas Party at the Image Factory. I so don’t want to screw it up. I wanna make a good impression. Do you have any advice? Help!
An AE with Her Stomach All in Knots
Dear Miss Knots,
Fear not. Got you covered hun. I am going to give you a little advice that will surely help you make this year's office party a memorable one.
First things first, remember, you work for a “creative” communications company so having fun is rule #1. Besides, fun is what a holiday party is supposed to be about.
With that in mind, here are a few basic dos and don’ts:
1. Get your hands on a couple Xanax. Take them right before you start to primp for the event. That should gently take the edge off.
1. Don’t worry about cost of the dress. Simply plan on taking it back.
Lastly, come Monday, bring a box to work. Trust me on this. You’re going need it to carry your stuff.
Cheers and Happy Holidays,
PS Seriously, show up to the party politely late. Make an appearance. Smile. Have dinner with you closest colleagues and trade small talk. Then, graciously thank your host and GO HOME EARLY. Come Monday, you won’t need the box.
Posted by Amanda Chapel
Here we bring you another installment of Ask Amanda, our weekly professional advice column.
This week we have a young turk in L.A. getting ready to take “the jump.” Amanda does her best to talk him down but apparently his mind is set. So she does the next best thing. Amanda helps him flap his wings some and pack a parachute.
Without further ado:
After 10 years working in various size agencies, I have recently made the decision to open a consultancy.
My colleagues have been totally supportive of my decision. And past clients have enthusiastically opened their doors for discussion. It's very promising.
But, as kind as their words are, I know that's not going to pay the bills. I am totally freaked out and nervous about the future.
What do you advise I do to grow my business and keep me away from agency life?
All the best,
- Ozzie in L.A.
Dear Ozzie in L.A.,
Jump Ozzie Jump!!
Reminds me a bit of a scene from a short story by Philip Roth, "The Conversion of the Jews.” Ozzie Freedman, a teenager gets into an argument with Rabbi Binder in Hebrew school. Ozzie can not longer accept all the hypocrisy and traditionalism. Their squabble escalates until the Rabbi slaps Ozzie giving him a bloody nose. Ozzie calls Binder a bastard and, and without thinking, runs up to the roof of the synagogue, threatening to jump. As the Rabbi tries gingerly to talk him down, Ozzie's classmates cheer “Jump Ozzie Jump!!”
As Roth describes, "Being on the roof, it turned out, was a serious thing. If he jumped would the singing become dancing? Would it? What would jumping stop? Yearningly, Ozzie wished he could rip open the sky, plunge his hands through, and pull out the sun; and on the sun, like a coin, would be stamped JUMP or DON’T JUMP."
For the record, here I am going to be both Rabbi and classmate. I want you to take the leap but I really don't want you to kill yourself in the process.
Ozzie, at one time or another we are all out on that ledge. Out of fear, most, 98 percent, come down. But others, and you may be one, have no choice. For some of us the questions that arise out of hypocrisy and traditionalism are just TOO overwhelming. Such is the genesis of the entrepreneur... as well as sadly, some of our ravaged and forgotten social outcasts. Mother Nature uses some of us to push the envelop. She pushes us out onto that ledge and out from the comfort of the nest.
If you are one of those chosen few, let me first say that I totally understand your decision. I empathize with the grief that led to it. I humbly honor your courage. That said, let's see if we can help you fly rather than fall flat on your face.
Posted by Amanda Chapel
We are pleased to introduce a new feature here at Strumpette: ASK AMANDA.
Ask Amanda is a free personal-advice column. Need help with a difficult co-worker, malignant boss, office romance, dicey ethical situations? You name it... Amanda will provide personal down-to-earth practical solutions. Amanda will give you a new perspective on your questions and problems. Like an unbiased colleague, best girlfriend, mother, or mentor, Amanda tells it like it is with deep thought, professional experience and caring.
Why now? Amanda has gotten a ton of email from fans worldwide asking for her point-of-view. Here we've decided that it would be compelling and educational if we shared a few select letters with our greater audience. We think you'll find them most useful as you navigate your career in PR.
Without further ado, here's our first letter:
I am an AE at a small agency. My role primarily is to execute PR campaigns for three very big clients. While I enjoy my work, and often get praise from our senior-level clients, I find myself in a bit of a bind: a lot of my creative and strategy skills never get acknowledged. I've tried expressing my concern to my immediate manager, but there seems to be the general "you're still too young to be able to do such and such," namely client presentations.
There have been two instances where I've had to attend large client meetings and give my input and expertise on matters my supervisors had no experience on, yet I am "too young" to be able to handle bigger challenges.
What do you think Amanda? My boss is suffocating me! What should I do?
Frustrated in NY
Dear Frustrated in NY,
First, you need to know, we've all been there for sure. Here, let's put it in perspective. Here are a few things to consider: account group dynamics, first responsibilities, the job versus a career, and the misnomer of promotion. Not necessarily in that order...
Do you remember your interview? I am sure this didn't come up: Fact is, the first requirement of the job is to manage your boss; the second requirement is to make him or her look good. Ironically, both those things are at distinct odds with the prospective employer's search. They're all looking for the independent thinker. However that independent thinker naturally rails against the unwritten requirements above. I guess you could say that first dates are always seen through rose-colored glasses. Anyway, the bottom line is this: the quicker you are able to satisfy those requirements, the easier your path will be toward assimilation in the corporate borg. If you don't learn it, expect the hard road less traveled. Also, expect that the only job you'll ever be satisfied with is the one where your name is on the door. And let me tell ya, even then, the gods will taunt you again with the ultimate realization that the same dynamics exist between your firm and your client. Arrrgh.
So you're not ready to hang out your own shingle? Okay, let's deal with the cards we've been dealt. The sad fact about account and team dynamics is that people who manage their boss well and make them look good actually don't need to work at all. That's life.
Okay, with that in mind, if you are burdened with a conscience here's what you can expect. You've got two basic types of immediate bosses (or clients): slave drivers and farmers. One spends an asset; the other nurtures an asset.
Slave drivers get the job done but turnover is typically pretty extreme. That, of course, is a hidden cost to the agency. Some large agencies can churn through personnel at better than 50 percent a year. Not good. I know of one agency whose turnover rate is 57 percent. It cost them about $19 million in various related costs. Excuse me but if your revenues are only $180 million dollars a year... $19 million hurts. (For the record, studies have shown that less than 30 percent turnover is not good either. A service firm ends up carrying a lot of deadwood which puts a huge drag on creativity and production.)
Farmers on the other hand get the job done by nurturing their reports. The object of the farmer is to convert the $150/hr producer into the $300/hr producer.
Knowing that, as an adult and a professional, your first responsibility is to fire the slave driver and go and hire a farmer boss. Not always easy when weighing the pressures of life, family, job and career aspirations.
Lastly, with regard to who gets promoted... best to understand award versus acknowledgement. Slave drivers give out awards to their favorite brown nosers. This typically has nothing to do with skill or contribution (if any). Farmers on the other hand provide opportunity and resources to those that will take it and then graciously acknowledge a job well done.
Frustrated in NY, it sounds like you need to fire your boss. It's tough to be talented and burdened with a conscience in PR. It's the good fight. I wish you all the best. Keep me posted. Let me know if I can be of further assistance.
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