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old dog...new trick
by sloan b. bayles

Sitting in my tenth story corner office I felt smug. Well, smug may be too strong, but to say I felt accomplished would be fair. My corner office with a great view, and my name engraved in brass on the door. See, hard work does pay off. Being good at what you do does have its rewards. Now I can supervise others the way I often wished I had been. No micro managing. No belittling or comparing. Mentoring people, encouraging them to grow and stretch. Make decisions for themselves. I want the people I supervise to want my job. If they have performed well enough to deserve it, then I have done my job well. Besides, it’s good to be king (or queen as the case may be). Or at least princess. After all, there is a manager above me here. For all its toil and stress, this job has its perks. A salary I sometimes can’t believe is really mine. I can’t remember when I bought my own lunch, or didn’t have a happy hour to attend after working my gray matter all day. Of course, someone else is picking up the tab for that too. Being marketed can be fun. Mention there’s a concert coming up you are hoping your husband will take you to, and bam, two tickets arrive in the mail. Mention a restaurant you’ve been dying to try, and suddenly, guess where you’re being taken for lunch next Thursday. I do have my ethics when it comes to being marketed. I won’t “be marketed” by someone I’m not already doing business with, or know I’m not going to give business to. It’s just not right to take advantage of people. All of this being said, yea, I felt accomplished. The best part is, I’m not even at my zenith with this company, nor this industry. There are more rungs to grab on this corporate ladder.

Sure, there are other things in life I’d like to be doing as well, but being wrapped up in your career doesn’t allow a lot of extra time to focus energy in an extracurricular direction. Between my career and my family, I’m swamped. So my other interests fall by the wayside. Discard the silly, youthful dreams I say. Who has time to be complete, I’m too busy being corporate. I’m nothing if not tenacious. I didn’t realize at the time that tunnel vision could disguise itself as tenacity.

After September 11, 2001 the insurance industry found itself to be one of the more critically wounded of the economic casualties. At least I was in good company when it came time for my corporate downsizing. So I packed up my corner office, brass nameplate and all, and stood dumbfounded. I know I’m a wife, a mother, a daughter and a friend, but who am I without my job? How do I respond to the standard social question, “What do you do for a living”? I identified myself, evaluated my self worth, and based my self-esteem on my job. So how do I now evaluate myself on that basis without a job? You guessed it, no job = no self-esteem and no feeling of self worth. And not just any job, MY job, MY industry. Well, my industry pretty much packed up and left town. After the first couple of months I found myself to be the last one hanging around at my pity party. It’s just not cool to be the last one to leave the party. Oh, I’d already been employed. I got a call from an old nemesis a week after the lay off. She’d heard what happened and as it turned out needed an adjuster. Well, beggars can’t be choosers. Yea. It lasted 90 days. Another former co-worker called and asked me to temp. for a couple of months. While there I got a call for a temp to perm job at another insurance company. That turned in to a full time job after temping a few months, and lasted until they had a massive lay off a couple of months ago. Finding employment hasn’t been much of a problem; I’ve been my problem.

The events of the last two years have forced me/allowed me to reevaluate priorities I had been holding firmly to like a hiker holds a compass. The higher I climbed the more it seemed evident I was following my true north. The problem is, over the course of the last two years the passion and joy I once derived from my occupation had started to fade. The money is good, but money isn’t really everything, is it? That’s still a tough one. Hard to turn down $63K a year, but that’s what I did last week. I’m presently doing a job, which is beneath my abilities, and well below my former salary, but I’m actually having fun at work again. I’ve started to pursue some of those silly, youthful dreams. I’ve also found I perhaps have regained some of that self-confidence and self esteem, enough of it that I plan on starting my own business. Something my former self would not dared try. Funny how sometimes what seems like your worst nightmare can turn out to be the source of your greatest strength.


A native Californian still dealing with the culture shock of having lived in Louisiana. I happily escaped to North Carolina. Wife, mother, and corporate world worker bee who is convinced all three of these have lead to my premature gray hair. The only thing I write professionally are honey-do lists.

more about sloan b. bayles


and i don't mean wonder
by sloan b. bayles
topic: general
published: 12.30.99

a textured fabric
simple acknowledgement
by sloan b. bayles
topic: general
published: 12.30.99


matt morin
4.17.04 @ 7:30p

Back in 2000-2001, when the unemployment in the San Francisco ad community got as high as 60% (yes, six-zero percent), it seemed like I couldn't go a week without someone I knew getting laid off. Several times I had 4 or 5 friends laid off in the same day.

But if you go back and talk to most of them now, they'll tell you it was the best thing that ever happened to them.

It opened their eyes to this career track they were so focused on. And to quote Ferris Buehler, "Life moves by pretty fast. If you don't stop and take a look around once in a while, you could miss it."

Some friends went to work for non-profits. Some left advertising and went to the corporate side. I got laid off and started my own ad agency/freelance business.

Now I make as much money as I did at my big agency job. I work 1/4 as much. I can take a day or a week off whenever I want. And I have total say over working with a client or not.

Trust me Sloan, I'll bet you a $63,000 job that you'll look back on this and think, "Man, that was a good thing."

tracey kelley
4.19.04 @ 5:07p

As you've heard me say time and time again, self-employment is no picnic, but many of the advantages - being able to choose your path and have the confidence to do so are two that immediately come to mind - often outweigh the golden pillow most of us sit (sat?) in the corporate world - a pillow that was filled with itty bitty nails.

Which is a shame, really, because there's no harm in doing a good job for a company and having them reward you years later for doing so. That mentality is gone at most companies, however, and so it makes it harder for the individual worker to have any real security.

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