How I got catfished: A corporate story

Wow! I can’t believe it. A consulting group wants me. They know I am transitioning my career. They are willing to take me on and train me with the experience I so desperately desire.

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Gif courtesy of blueiskewl.blogspot.com

RED FLAG #1.

If you are currently (or have ever) transitioned into a new career, you can relate.
All transferable skill and no experience = job hunting with a pair of bolt cutters.
It seems every road is closed. It takes strong character to cut the bullshit.

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Photo by Travis Saylor on Pexels.com

Well, guess who did not listen to their intuition?

But this time it was different. (pleading)

Yes, it has happened more than once. Shame on me!

I am leaving at the perfect time based on my Waze app, still giving myself a 30 minute window for parking and navigating downtown. Ok, first of all the fact that I actually think it through this fucking detailed is a blessing and a curse. For example, I stayed up late researching the company, writing the notes for my elevator pitch, and grooming my circus side-show appearance as the bearded lady…. and my head hit the pillow around 5 am.

Then, I stare at the clock on my phone for another hour and half checking periodically that I set the alarm for the right time…who does that shit?

I close my eyes and drift off…

WAKE UP!

Getting ready, I decided to hold off on the coffee knowing I would be walking a few blocks, or in circles more likely.

Caffeine + nerves + aimlessly walking around trying to follow that Google trail of dots = a hot mess

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Gif courtesy of giphy.com

Google maps rant: Is there anyone else that has a mental breakdown when you can’t figure out which direction you are walking, and you keep hitting Re-center as if it’s magically going to make sense. Seriously?! I digress…

OK, I found the building with a couple of minutes to spare, I press the 14th floor. And in the next few minutes I knew I had been catfished. It went like this:

Young man steps into elevator and says ” 4 please”

Me: pressing button “Sure”

Him: “1402 is on 4, right?”

Me: “No, that would be on the 14th Floor.” Thought bubble overhead reads…did that just come out of his mouth?!

Him: (Blank stare, I already pressed the button)

We had a brief discussion and found out we were going to the same place for an interview at the same time.

My thought bubble overhead looks a little like this…
RED FLAG #2.

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Gif courtesy if giphy.com

We proceed to ride in silence together and when we walk out of the elevator, I introduce myself in a last-ditch effort to be memorable. You never know in business (tip for networking). We walk together down the hallway to the door and open it to the typical corporate catfish scene.

The pool table staged in the middle of the waiting room was there to say “Hey, we’re hip and fun!” And the electronic music blaring was almost an insult to anyone trying to think.

The walls are clear glass so everyone can see who you are. The girl at the receptionist table looks up and says “Which company are you here for?” Now, it was at this moment that her eyes rolled so far in the back of her head that I thought she might have given herself whiplash. I even remember looking at the men behind the glass and making a silly facial expression like “YIKES.” Just trying to keep it light.

Said whiplash victim proceeds to hand my new friend Louis and I clipboards of information to fill out. Ironically we were there for two different companies.

I sit on the tiny-legged couch which resembles the stature of a Corgi, and start scribbling.

The receptionist dressed in all black with heavily worn makeup (like worn last night), stomps her heeled boots into the middle of glass offices. One man sits behind a desk dressed casual, and the other is standing in a suit talking very loud. The sports small talk turned silent as the Devil Wears Prada look-a-like closes the door. With their backs to me I can see them discussing (whispering). 30 seconds later, which actually felt like an eternity. She comes out of the room, closes the door behind her.

Secret stuff going on in the glass office (enter sarcasm).

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Gif courtesy of weheartit.com

The girl calls me into the office next door and proceeds to explain why I am there, what they will do, and what they will expect from me… in less than 3 minutes. I mean this girl was ready for the auction house. I heard every 10th word and tried to keep up until she said, “So do you want to do it?”

Thought bubble overhead reads…WTF???

I decided to recap what I just heard…I take that back. I don’t even know what the hell I heard other than a pyramid scheme. That was the only thing I knew for sure.
RED FLAG #3.

“Thank you very much, it’s time for me to go.” As I walked out, Louis was still sitting awkwardly on the fancy looking modern couch with his knees practically touching his ears. I said goodbye and good luck.

Lesson: Don’t let anyone baffle you with bullshit! If you see a red flag don’t ignore it. Be ready to move on and try not make that same mistake again.

Like a catfish, you are hungry and they are always willing to put their hands in your mouth acting like they are going to feed you. If you decide to bite, be ready to let go quick…don’t get catfished!

-ap

Did I ever tell you the story of the burning bridge?

I grew up in retail cosmetics. I say grew up because I started the career at a very crucial time for my development as a woman. I was a new mother with a new agenda which included making this tiny human proud to call me mom. I was driven to make a change in my life and ran away from the service industry which was my home for 8 years. I was slinging chicken wings during the day, then I bartended in a nightclub that hosted raves all night. Needless to say, I wasn’t in a position in my life to be a role model for my daughter and in process of having my second midlife crisis.

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Image courtesy of Huffpost

(Thought bubble over head shows a slide show of all the crazy pictures at the end of the movie “The Hangover”) That was my life in a nutshell! I definitely needed a nudge to do better.

Oh boy, my second midlife crisis. Now that was fun! Ok, I digress… those stories for another day.

Now, at this point in the story, 10 years have passed, and I have been very successful in customer service, makeup artistry, business management, and I totally immersed myself into a brand that I loved. Oh yeah, I drank the Kool-aid and for a while it tasted good. However, I started to notice that every time in my career I did not take the advice of some executive or senior manager about my career path, I was outed from the popular crowd just a little bit. This went on for another 10 years, until I was hanging on to the fringe of the brand’s philosophies, feeling just like you do when you ride the Giant Swing at the carnival. You know… elated but scared for your life at the same time. I remember spending the entire 3 minutes of the ride clinging to life, imagining how and where I would land if the chains broke and catapulted me into the unknown. Scared AF!

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Photo by Scott Webb on Pexels.com

Fast Forward

The company took a turn for the worse and the retail industry tanked, staffing adjustments, benefit cuts, lay-offs, job enlargement, and all these changes took place at strategic times secretly and universally for the entire company, no one was safe. The quick decision of the company to rip the band-aid off the bleeding wound caused an infection of bitter overworked employees, myself included. I took a promotion in a dying location thinking it would position myself for safety as the ship sank…(insert a slow sarcastic tone) yeeeeaaaahh… don’t do that. Not only did I have no way out, I backed myself into a corner. Then the most tragic experience of my life happened…my dad passed away. From December 21 to Dec 31 of December 2017, the power switch was activated in my soul. For you visual learners, I was winning a strong woman competition flipping a truck tire of emotion like it was sculpted from weightless foam. During those 10 days, my entire view of the world changed, and I was ready to make a move.

I began actively searching job postings for positions of any kind, and I put my pride aside to let my boss know I would greatly appreciate her support. The company obliged to my surprise, and they stuck me exactly where I needed to be (insert sarcasm). I was afforded the assisting leadership role under a manager that I can only describe as dark, secretive, and dishonest (straight up movie villain style). A cringe-worthy supervisor that an employee dreads to be around. It feels like a hopeless situation, I relied on my interactions with customers to lift my day. Can you imagine? It’s usually the customers that are cringe-worthy, and now I was hoping to connect with anyone just avoid the negativity that was my new work-life.

(Thought bubble reads: It’s time to go!)

What are dreams if you can’t make them come true because you’re slaving away for someone else’s dream? Expending all your energy to something that you will not be thanked for or reap any benefit, other than a small financial gain that weighs you down like a ball and chain because now you’re accustomed to a certain lifestyle. Financial growth should never be the traded for emotional abuse. Stay mindful, (professional note) you cannot change someone else’s poor behavior if they are in denial; however, there is hope because you can change the way you react to it. If you need a list of emotional abusive behaviors, here you go. I had to pick my top five-ish because the list could go on forever.

  • Reactive and non-patient
  • Rude and boisterous
  • Judgmental and gossipy
  • Conditional and shows favoritism
  • Oppressive and authoritarian

No, this isn’t a villain in a horror movie, it’s your boss!

Breathe. Let it go!

Reaction fuels the fire

Why do you think we are so consumed by other’s behaviors, especially at work? Here’s why! In a workplace environment, we are the shell of our personalities. We are putting on a front, for the world to judge. WHAT’S THIS? WE ARE A DEAD ONE OF THESE!

Still keeping our shape, just lifeless. Smooth segue

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Image courtesy of The Prop Tank

 

I don’t want to be a dead, crustacean looking, shell of myself with a painted clown face exhibiting absurd behavior which compromises everything about myself that is unique and wonderful!

Time to burn that bridge

I made a conscious effort to burn my bridge, not because I was scared, but because I needed to challenge myself to become more.

“Sometimes you get the best light from a burning bridge” – Don Henley Musician

According to the Forbes article written by Liz Ryan, the 5 exceptions to burning a bridge include:

  1. You will be tempted to go back some day, work twice as hard, and expect a different result #insanity
  2. Someone tries to dim your flame, and you have to be someone you’re not just to prove to someone you don’t like, that you are worthy. Mean girls are ugly.
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    gif courtesy of Logo.newnextnow
  3. It’s more important to support family/friends, remove yourself from the toxic culture.
  4. Your integrity requires it because its about to get unethical up in here.
  5. Trust your gut feeling when you’re in an unhealthy relationship.

Check, check, check, check, and CHECK!

What now?

Follow those dreams kiddo…and don’t ever look back!

-ap

My mentor is not a quitter!

I need to preface this post with a fact about me:

I am a very optimistic person. When things get rough, and people tell me I can’t do something, the first thing I want to do is do it! (Occasionally to a fault but nonetheless, challenge accepted.)

Earlier in the day as I was getting ready, I didn’t know if I should be 15 minutes early to have a table ready, or to arrive right on time casually so I don’t seem too eager, and after all that, ended up 3 minutes late. That being said, today I met with a woman to collaborate some business ideas and bring our strengths together as coaching professionals. I went in to the meeting thinking we were on the same path and it was destiny that I met her. I was so excited to bring my ideas to her and build an empire with my plans. In my defense, I messaged her to let her know I was on the way. I don’t recommend being late for the first meeting of the rest of your life, but there was a silver lining. When I got there, she wasn’t there at all. Immediately, my intuition told me this was not going to be what I expected.

I waited in line, ordered my coffee, and I sent a message to her confirming place and time, and waited for a response. I slowly made my coffee and waited for the longest 5 minutes of my life. I actually opened each packet of sweetener individually to allow her more time. My coffee was incredibly sweet that day. (Insert sarcasm) I stared out into the parking lot looking around for a car that might be hers. I then looked around the room to make sure she wasn’t actually sitting there and I possibly didn’t recognize her. I would have been mortified, and not to mention, how super unprofessional of me. Oh yeah, and I added some of that disgusting vanilla powdered flavoring to really add insult to injury and waste more time. I started to contemplate how long should I wait before I leave…I think I just got stood up.

Just then…“Almost there,” she responded. A little bummed that the expected scenario did not play out the way I had naively envisioned, I apprehensively scanned the room again to pick the best area to meet. I was kind of hanging on by my last thread of hope, sat down, and forced a smile.

When she arrived she looked busy and occupied going through the motions. Not knowing where to start, I thanked her for coming and started talking. I was eager to share my prepared list of ideas, but because I was a bit disillusioned from the previous 5 minutes of life contemplation, I began rambling. I stopped myself from talking because I had just bombarded her with an explicit display of gross inexperience. I realized I hadn’t even given her an opportunity to let me know what her expectations were, so I asked where she was in her journey and what she wanted out of this collaboration. She talked about her previous experience with every idea I proposed and my stomach sank, I knew what was coming next.

 

Prepare for the Sagittarius specialty of occasional verbal diarrhea!

I remained positive and continued. “Let me just tell you ALL the ideas I have!” I was supposed to wow her with my charm and creativity to prompt some form of excitement to match mine. I was bursting with more ideas that I wanted to share in a desperate attempt to find something that she would be interested in. Basically, after I was through bearing my soul to a stranger, on my virgin flight of being an entrepreneur, she said, “All of that sounds good but there’s too much time to be invested and not much return financially on the investment.” The reality hit that she wasn’t super interested in playing a large role in anything I was presenting. I was open to her feedback and sensed the resistance, so I tried to identify the “why” behind her resistance. I didn’t have to wonder long, because she transparently gave me her truth willingly.

She told me a story about her mentor. This person was doing exactly what I was suggesting, on a grander scale, and extremely successful. But because this person was essentially only breaking even financially… they quit!

This is the part during our conversation where my stomach turning progressed to disappointment. If I was standing outside myself, I could see my whole body dripping like melted wax. My face and body muscles relaxed like a wave down my spine, and I had to adjust my position to lift my chin with dignity because I wanted to cry on the inside like a baby. My fervor was chopped down like a tree, but I tried to sit tall. Overcompensating for my disenchantment, I realized I was talking kind of fast and I didn’t know how to proceed with a meeting like this. I felt foolish. I would later realize that this feeling I felt wasn’t about me at all. I was feeling her disappointment and frustration. My sympathy turned to empathy, and I almost got sucked into the emotions until my coaching experience took over.

I tried to stop the meeting right then and there. I said, “At this point in time, I can definitely see you’ve got your own thing going on and all of those previous experiences you explained are valid. The overhead could be high, no financial gain verses the effort and time… so why don’t we both pause, think about our possible resources through our individual network of contacts, and maybe we could come back together another time and brainstorm?” She reeled me back in because out of all the ideas I threw at her in the beginning, she liked one. I was pleased. I suggested some venues and she was intrigued. My thread of hope turned to a very loose friendship bracelet of interwoven ideas between she and I. I agreed that I could manpower the initiative and she was open to meeting again. We left the meeting with a possible collaboration in the future, but really nothing ready to put into action.

But there was still that one part of the conversation that kept reoccurring in my thoughts.

If her mentor was so successful in bringing people together, why quit? That makes absolutely no sense. If that person considers themselves a mentor and coach they don’t just quit. If this person is passionate enough to build this strong force of like-minded individuals, in my opinion, that person should feel the empowerment and fulfillment of bringing so many professionals together. My definition of a mentor and coach is someone that is not perfect because of their mistakes. They have been there, done that! They suggest options in the face of adversity. There is no quitting, there is only inspiring alternatives. For those people that choose to be a coach and mentor, it is important to know your clients rely on your guidance and encouragement because that is your gift.

 

The satisfaction that comes with finding your purpose is pretty powerful stuff!

I realized this meeting had nothing to do with collaborating with her and more about never allowing anyone or anything to take away your passion. This experience fed my motivation because when things get rough and people tell me I can’t do something, the first thing I want to do is do it! (Remember the preface?) I now have a better understanding for what I am in for on this journey and I’m not discouraged because my mentor is not a quitter. I am my mentor! Every step of my journey gets me a little closer, gives me a little more insight, and my destination dances like a flicker of candlelight in the distance.