Monday, September 25, 2023

Cherry Picker


My manager and I have been getting along really well with each other for quite some time now but it was a rocky road. In one of our first 1:1s she accused me of cherry picking and not pulling my weight. As you can imagine, this did not go down well and I felt insulted as well as defensive. Since then, I have reflected back to this label quite frequently and yes, I am a proud "cherry-picker". Call it the stubbornness of middle age, the confidence of experience or just my personal quirk, but it is true that I tend to devote my time and attention to projects I love and am passionate about and duck and cover when some unwanted tasks looms on the horizon. Basically anything that involves spreadsheets and to-do-lists belong into the latter category, but also projects that involve working with colleagues who are not among my favourites to put it mildly.
Well, I recently pitched a workshop idea to my manager as I saw a need for it. She told me to pilot it and in the meantime, coincidentally, a company-wide initiative was launched where this just fits in nicely and in turn makes her look good for having somebody on her team who anticipated this trend. The pilot was more than successful and I have probably never received such enthusiastic feedback for anything in my career. I felt I could both empower and help participants. As a result, these workshops are becoming a series. I posted about it on LikedIn and it generated more likes (including one by our CEO who is not even my first contact) than any previous post of mine, which added to my sense of accomplishment regarding this pet project. 
Now that I have built up a good track record of "cherry orchards" if you so will, my manager has never again brought up this "deficit" of mine and lets me experiment, which I am really thankful for.

Monday, September 18, 2023

Roll, Baby, Roll or Ode to a Suitcase

These past two weekends I was away with my trusty little hand-luggage-approved Rimowa suitcase. It's weird how this lightweight travel companion gives me an instant endorphin rush. It is so practical as it fits more than you would assume from its size, glides on pavement like a dream and you can sit your bag (with laptop in it or not, it will be heavy in any case) on it to relieve your shoulders. There are so many happy memories I associate with it, both from business trips and private adventures. During Covid lockdowns it didn't get much airtime so walking to train stations or through airports with it is associated with freedom and fun times. It has two older and bigger siblings that I use for longer trips and we've been travelling together for over six and a half years now. Here's to many more lightweight and lighthearted journeys together!

Sunday, September 10, 2023

Bursting Bubbles

Sometimes it is other people's behaviour that reminds you that you should hold back your opinions or ask for context when in similar situations. 
In the first week of October, Highflyer and I are going away on a weekend break (4 nights) to an island where neither of has has ever been, but we've heard only positive things about. We are both excited to extend the summer and catch some some before the grey months and short days set in and so I did quite a lot of research to find the best location and hotel, reading reviews and taking recommendations of people who had recently been there. It's our wedding anniversary gift to one another (he got the flights, I booked the hotel) and we'd already been looking forward to it, drooling over the pictures of the fancy adults-only 5* hotel I booked.
Last week we had dinner with friends, a married couple, who live abroad and somehow the conversation got to our holiday destination and the husband casually mentioned that his wife (a well-travelled flight-attendant) used to live there. She pricked up her ears and I asked her when that was as I didn't know that. She said that this was basically "in another life" as in more than 25 years ago. Inevitably, she asked which part of the island we were staying at. When I told her (I was prepared to add that it was only a short trip with the focus on "beach") she just said "Ugh, that is THE part I would personally never visit. Seriously, like all other parts, but not there. Well, at least it's relatively close to the airport" Husband looked mildly embarrassed while she went on to add that there were waaay better beaches elsewhere and a lot of British tourists there. Obviously, I was aware that this area was popular with Brits, but having done my "homework" had made sure not to book a tourist trap all inclusive resort or any such thing. I was taken aback and said that we didn't intend to rent a car, but I was sure we could visit places with public transport (again, I had looked online) for her to categorically say that you could do nothing without a car there. I fully understand that you get passionate about places you know well and look down on tourists who might not see your personal highlight, but I was really taken aback and changed the topic as I might have become sarcastic and  reminded her that she had just said that she had lived there more than 2 decades ago and public transport and other things might have improved considerably. 
It really bugged me and on the way home afterwards felt I had to justify myself to Highflyer that the hotel and area I had hyped him up about really were nice and I had done my research as she had basically dismissed everything with one sentence and made our romantic getaway look cheap and clichéd. Could have happened to anyone, so note to self: do ask for a bit of context and perhaps hold back your strong opinions as you might burst someone's bubble and make them look stupid. 
It's a bit like when at work, I am still sometimes asked about my former employer "How did the Firm handle this?" "Do you have any best practices from the Firm" and I always add the disclaimer that I'm happy to tell them what I experienced, but that my "insider knowledge" is 6 years old by know and may not be valid at all any more.

Monday, September 04, 2023

Back to School

I work at a typical Austrian company (that used to be state-owned and has a very long history) and its mostly middle-aged workforce is comprised of many parents who time their summer and other vacations to align with their children's school holidays. Accordingly, it can get veeery quiet in between Christmas and January 6th and even more so in the months of July of August when a lot of them take at least two weeks of leave of absence. The positive side effect is that you can get away with short and chilled days yourself, should you not be on vacation, use the downtime with considerably less meetings and events for catching up on some neglected administrative tasks, etc. The downside is that it can get a bit boring and most decisions get delayed until "after the holidays". September is usually a very busy month when everybody seems to spring back into actions and everyone thinks it is a good idea to schedule workshops, offsites and meetings with external partners. When you decide to be the odd one out and for whatever reason take a longer vacation outside of the traditional holiday window it will always be you who stands in the way of finding a time for such events "now that everyone is back". 

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