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Out of Our Minds
Tuesday, March 01, 2005 4:02 PM
What We Love and Hate
Anita Sharpe on Passionate Work

A question I ask nearly everyone I meet for a meal or coffee is this: What specifically do you love and hate about what you do all day? I was struck recently by the answer from a college professor (marketing prof Ken Bernhardt), because it paralleled my own answers almost exactly:


* 'I love impacting people's lives'
* 'I have almost total freedom; I can work on what I want to work on.'
* 'There's a lot of variety in my day.'


* 'Grading -- how do you really decide what's an A- and what's a B+?'
* 'What I call 'administrivia''
* 'Bureaucracy'

Given that there's so much bureaucracy and administrivia out there, someone must like it. Who are these people?


Robert - 4/13/2005 11:08:29 AM
oops posting above sent to wrong place, sorry :-)
Robert - 4/13/2005 11:02:55 AM
In my crowd of aging (advancing?) boomers and Xer's, we spend increasing time with 'localized' types such as pediatricians, plumbers, electricians, kitchen rehabbers, divorce lawyers, soccer coaches, people disguised as soccer coaches and so on .... and often you find their sins (mostly regarding your time) to be far more egregious than most Fortune 500 marketers. So the best I can do is vent on things I've heard about indirectly, which is easy, as here in New York people just vent about everything. Some obsessions of the moment:

'The Missing Mango' -- like many cities, online food shopping and delivery is rising (such as Fresh Direct here), and while there are a few upsetting stories of complete orders not being fulfilled, or crazy delivery guys, more common are seemingly inocuous problems that are completely riling and upping the Xanax-intake of most Manhattanites. 'I expected the bananas to be Chiquita, and they were, like, Dole!' (substitute Jif/Skippy, Glad/Hefty etc.) My favorite was a friend harping about a mango included in the invoice but missing in the 8-box delivery. (I didn't ask if it was intended to be Chiquita or Dole.) I related this to the Seinfeld episode in which Kramer obsessed about his daily fruit shopping, and she responded, 'Yes, and he was right, dammit!!' So far people out here are pleased with their 21st century iPods, but don't be messing with their fruit. I am imagining this is a universal phenomenon.

'Extremely Loud and Incredibly Greedy' -- word is that, increasingly, at certain national hotel chains, if you do something like have Amazon mail the latest Jonathan Safran Foer novel to you at the hotel, the hotel will charge a storage fee for it (sometimes up to $50) before handing it over to you (and yes, this is after you've specifically schlepped down to the lobby to retrieve it). I mean, if they have the local book critic come over and tell you what parts to gloss over, maybe this is worth $5, just for the novelty of it, but to ask for a Ulysses just to have it sit in their closet? So fellow travelers, we should be asking about hidden fees upfront before we book rooms, and bark against them.

On plus side, I only first ventured into a Target like a year ago, and have to give them credit for sherpherding people through check-out quickly, like opening an express line when they see someone with a pack of Tic-Tacs waiting in line behind someone buying a complete home entertainment system (I am usually the former). Relatedly, I think there should be a '1-on-1' rule passed through Congress (they seem to be intruding on everything else). One customer, no more than one employee serving that customer. I avoid chain drug stores when I can, too many memories of waiting while 3 or more salespeople huddled around the customer in front of me to solve such challenging problems as 'well, this is Scotch GIFT tape .... do you have the transparent kind .... it's just different, it is!' And the pharmacist-as-moralist thing, don't get me started ....
Julie - 3/8/2005 2:05:47 PM
I can't admit to *loving* administrivia/bureaucracy per se, but I can say that in a job where I balance lots of long-term projects with a bunch of short-term details, there is certainly some satisfaction in being able to check off the smaller items quickly some days - often while procrastinating on the bigger to-dos.

And when tedious bureaucracy starts to get me down, it helps sometimes to think about how things could be accomplished better without that red-tape or seemingly useless process. Often, I find that I either appreciate the minute details that keep things running smoothly -- or come up with a better alternative to how things are managed.

Sometimes I think real job satisfaction comes through balancing the little things in the service of bigger, more creative accomplishments.
Harlan Liftbar - 3/7/2005 9:18:20 PM
To answer your question, 'Who are these people?' I offer the following:
1. HR
2. Lawyers
3. Senior Management
4. Consultants
Amyn Lalji - 3/3/2005 8:31:36 AM
I Love:
Life and its beauty

I hate:
All those who do not see what life can offer them,

But in fact I cannot say that I hate them, as they are also a part of life that I love.
Nicole - 3/2/2005 3:13:07 PM
Hate: Atlanta traffic to get there.

Love: My bosses, learning, and expanding my horizons
Jory Des Jardins - 3/2/2005 12:44:54 PM
I've asked myself this question in a different format. A boss I had once said that everyone should love their job. I pondered this statement thoroughly and said, 'I agree, but then, whose going to take out the garbage?' I've never loved the detail work (though I've done the corporate equivalent of taking out the garbage). Still I wonder, who DOES like it? I'm going to keep checking back to see. I'm really curious! And I suspect that the answer is something like: One woman's garbage is another woman's pride.
Paughnee - 3/2/2005 11:46:15 AM
Anita said, 'Given that there's so much bureaucracy and administrivia out there, someone must like it. Who are these people?'

Bureaucrats and administrators?
Fred Kuu - 3/2/2005 1:05:10 AM
* Enlightening moments
* Mental Stimulants caused by learning

* Mindless routines
R. Todd Stephens, Ph.D. - 3/1/2005 9:07:46 PM
Bureaucracy and those that support, survive and thrive by it
Lack of Action and the CYA efforts that endure within the corporation
Partners that can’t define the term

Passion and those that embody the term as a way of life
Expanding the Body of Knowledge
Encouraging others to move beyond average
genevieve - 3/1/2005 7:42:22 PM
We may be people whose parents were always dismissing others completely, Anita. I know I am, the trivia is some way of making sure life is fair for people in some way, I think. I am not always bureaucratic, either, I have very creative days where I let the wind take me along where it will. When I reconcile the two impulses, I do quite good stuff sometimes!!( Needless to say, I don't have a job yet, hehe.)


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