Project Wonderful

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

You Better Work!

I've heard worse ideas. Thank you people of New Hampshire, for having too much time on your hands.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Be A Man, Stop and Smell The Roses

From a feminist perspective, I didn't love everything about this article...particularly the implication that men have a better idea of what to expect in the workforce or the description of competitive women as "catty."

However, I did find the article's explanation of why women burn out faster than men intriguing.
These early career flameouts are reflected through the corporate ladder. Today, 53% of corporate entry-level jobs are held by women, a percentage that drops to 37% for mid-management roles and 26% for vice presidents and senior managers, according to McKinsey research. Men are twice as likely as women to advance at each career transition stage. One rationale is that men are more likely than women to do things that help their personal wellbeing at work, thus negating burnout, according to the Captivate Network. Men are 25% more likely to take breaks throughout the day for personal activities, 7% more likely to take a walk, 5% more likely to go out to lunch, and 35% more likely to take breaks “just to relax.
I would argue that women are less likely to take breaks because they are more concerned that people are "counting on them." One thing I've learned in Women in Power class is that when a head hunter calls a women who is already in a job one of her first questions is "what will they do without me here?" Men simply don't ask that. Women also have less free time because they are expected to have the same responsibilities as men in the workplace, while taking on greater responsibilities at home.

Whether or not you're a woman this article brings up a good point: an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. That is, sometimes its better to ask for an hour off (or give one to your organizers) so that you can get more out of the time you put in. This is a difficult concept in a business where we're taught time is our most valuable resource, but it is important to measure time in quality as well as quantity. That hour spent going to the gym or on the phone with your best friend, will make a difference later when you're not so burned out that you print the wrong call list or need to go on five coffee runs just to stay awake.

See? Women's wisdom comes in handy for everyone! (And for those of you with Y chromosomes, I promise not everything I write from now on will be gynocentric).


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Why campaigns are making you fat

My rantings on women led me to check in on my Gender Policy facebook group where I found this article. Technically, it's about women and eating around the holidays...but just replace "woman" with "organizer" and "holiday" with "election" and you'll see why I found it relevant.

We all know about stress eating, but I thought the brain science in the article was particularly interesting. Maybe I'll think about it next time I look for my vote goal at the bottom of a pizza box.

Type E (Or Breaking Up is Hard to Deux)

Nota bene: Don't ever tell me not to do something. I was at brunch with my family yesterday when my Grandmother asked me "You don't write anything personal on your blog, do you?" Personal? That's hard to say. I once compared a candidate to an abusive boyfriend. I wrote an entry in which I literally broke up with campaigns and in doing so covered a fair amount of my animate romantic relationships as well. It was a difficult question to answer, because for me the political has always been extremely personal. "No but I mean you don't write 'I went out with someone the other night and I went to bed with him.'" Of course not...

If you read my blog or talk to me ever, you know that I struggle with separating elections from who I am. When I look at what I've accomplished and the person I am today, ambitious, driven, relentless, meticulous, passionate, it's hard for me to divine what traits I brought to campaigns versus what traits campaigns have given me. These days, when I find myself approaching a group project with "campaign mentality" I have to step back and wonder if it's really a "Nancy mentality" that's just used to having a more appropriate outlet.

All this would be an academic exercise if I weren't at a point in my life where I have to make some choices.
Around my twenty fifth birthday I got this sinking feeling that I didn't know where my life was going. My friends were getting engaged, joining law firms and buying houses. I was in a relationship with an undergrad, didn't know if and where I'd be working in six weeks, and was squatting on peoples couches. Organizing is the only job I can think of where at twenty five you can credibly say, "I'm too old for this shit."

Now I've just turned twenty seven and, as I do at every milestone, am forced to look back and take what one of my sorority sisters refers to as "mental stock." Besides teaching me a lot and giving me the leg up I need in my career, graduate school provides a woolly cocoon from which to assess the direction my life is headed. I have a pretty good idea of what I need to do to get where I want to be professionally. This blog is part of that and Columbia has allowed me to make some great connections to get me where I need to go. Romantically...not so much. Part of the problem is that you can't control other people's emotions and you can't create chemistry. The search for Mancy will not be solved by a google spreadsheet or by phone banking all the age appropriate gentlemen on the Upper West Side. (JVAN?) But there's another problem: I think I have a "thing" about elections. (That's elections with an "l.")

So I met this boy (sorry, Grandma). He used to work on campaigns and I went out with him the night before my birthday. Things did not work out, but it got me thinking, I only ever really like boys who have worked on elections. When I worked on campaigns, that wasn't so strange. Those were the only people I met. The fact that it's been true the past two years as well, kind of scary.

My friends used to joke with me that I had a thing for fat, tall, nerdy guys. This "slow, sweaty parade" as one friend put it can be easily traced back to my first boyfriend in college. Maybe we just incorporate what we're used to into our taste in significant others. It's also natural to seek out people who share your values. All things being equal, I would prefer to date a Jewish guy and elections are just as integral to who I am. However, while there is no shortage of heighty, chubby men who can fix a computer, and Jewish men abound where I come from, there are significantly fewer men who live in New York City and have worked on elections. More over, the same reasons I broke free from campaigns are the reasons I need a similar split from campaign boys.

Dating campaign boys is like dating my own id. I recently learned that men and women's brains are actually structured differently. Women have webbed brains which allow us to plan, to form relationships and see patterns. For a women everything is interrelated. That's why when I take stock of my life I consider my job as it relates to my relationships as they relate to my health, etc. Men do not have webbed brains, which allows them to be decisive and to compartmentalize.You know the Nancepaign vision I was talking about earlier? The intensity with which I approach a project? Multiply that times 1,000. And, (more information from Women in Power Class) men tend to prioritize the straight forward reward system of a job, where as women find more reward in relationships. Which generally means super intense time spent together, followed by me being totally ignored for work I while I perpetually reload my text messages and try to apply my organizing skills to a problem I can't control.

Why am I sharing this with you? Is campaignsick becoming a live journal? Decidedly, no. First, because campaignsick is life through a campaign lens, and this is a real part of my life. Second, and more importantly, if its bothering me its probably bothering someone else. I've spent a lot of time this semester thinking about women and power in the workplace, thanks to an incredible course I'm taking. One thing that keeps coming up in every class is how to balance an intense career about which you are passionate with life, family and relationships. Until recently the dilemma of "having it all" was taboo. Our Professor noted that it was more common for men to have pictures of their children on their desks than for women, since having a family to take care of on top of a career was perceived as a weakness, while women who chose not to have children were perceived as cold or odd.

One of those interrelated career/personal goals I'm pursuing is to be a role model for women who are unabashedly opinionated, especially in politics. It's hard for professional women to tell the truth about what we want in our lives without being criticized as weak or needy, but it's even harder to get what you want if you're not willing to say it. So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen of campaignsick, ISO Mancy. It's gonna be tough to find someone to keep up with me though. After all, I have a pretty baller career going on, not to mention incredible classmates and coworkers to share it with.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Pro-Tip: Be Thankful

Years ago, a career counselor at my alma mater advised me to write holiday cards to people who had helped me in my job search. Her logic was that this was an unobtrusive way of keeping myself on their radars, while reminding them of my impeccable charm and business etiquette should I need their help in future.

I thought this was sort of brilliant and I've adapted it to my own tastes over the years to include more than just casual business contacts and to take place around Thanksgiving rather than New Years. Every year I write an e-mail to candidates, bosses, co-workers and volunteers who have made an impact on me in the most recent election year. Yes, it's a good career move, but I'm recommending thankfulness in general. Here's why:

1) Elections are by nature a cynical business. We spend a lot of time talking about what's wrong, railing against injustice or warning about what could happen if the other side gets its way. There have been times on elections and even in school when I think about everything going on in the world and all the issues I care about and worry "how will we ever, ever fix that?" In our rush to make things better, we can spend our whole lives focusing on what's left to do and not consider all the progress we've made. This year I am thankful for (among many other things) Gilad Shalit, an end to Don't Ask Don't Tell, New York marriage equality, victories in Connecticut, continued protection for a woman's right to choose, and a plan to withdraw troops from Iraq. In the lead up to what promises to be a challenging election year, let's not forget that we have a lot to be proud of.

2) It means more to thank someone when you don't need anything from them. Any organizer worth her call list knows to thank her volunteers when they come in the office, but what about the election? I once attended a training where a now fairly prominent field director told us that volunteers are like tissues because you get as much as you can out of them, and then you throw them out. Lovely. I know, I'm such the karma police that Radiohead could write a song about me, but it seems to me that if you thank someone you should mean it. Especially if you plan to go ahead and do it again with a whole new group of people next year. You're asking people to do things that are sometimes scary, often boring and often time consuming. As we all know, volunteers come into the office for the candidate, but they stay for you. One of the things that broke my heart about John Edwardsgate was that I had asked people to give up their time and energy to help him. I put my reputation and integrity on the line to them for him. Afterwards, I felt like I had let them down. Writing them a thank you note almost a year later allowed me to let them know that even though things worked out very, very differently than we had hoped, their hard work was not unappreciated, and not in vain.

3) We stand on the shoulders of giants. Whether you're in school, on a campaign, or doing something equally important but unrelated, sometimes its hard to stay motivated. It's less so when you think about all the people who have come before you to make your job/school/life possible. I am thankful for the founding fathers and mothers and revolutionaries who risked being hung for treason so that I could be part of the longest running democracy in history, for the people who have died defending it and for the women who took part in the suffrage movement. I am also thankful for the doctors and pharmacists who made it possible for me to be alive and healthy enough to contribute to a movement I find incredibly rewarding. I have no intention of letting any of them down.

This year I am thankful to all of you for reading my blog and sharing it with others, especially my darling friend Cole Imperi who helped me with its new design (official launch coming soon). Please let me know how I can help you achieve your goals this coming year. I wish you a festive and meaningful holiday season.

Happy Thanksgiving!