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Op/Ed

How to avoid going down in flames like WeWork

(EDITORIAL) Some companies like WeWork can lose billions on mistakes, but how can you keep yourself from falling into the same bad decision making?

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WeWork loses billions

Michelle Obama, toned-arm goddess that she is, gave me perspective on more than a desperate need to lift when she said about the mega-wealthy: “They are not that smart.”

American meritocracy is BS, and we all know it (I hope), but on some sad level, us 99% tend to think ‘Well, this person’s bank statement looks like a phone number with a personal extension on it, so they MUST know something I don’t.’

Well, no, not necessarily.

What the disastrous decisions WeWork made should tell you is that when you’re extra rich, you get to make extra mistakes.

For all the hand-wringing billionaires pay (or don’t) their subordinates to do for them about losing hundreds of billions to taxes, the fact remains they’ll still be left with more money than could be spent in any one person’s lifetime, plus the interest that just leaving that money in the bank nets them.

Now, wherever you fall politically doesn’t much matter here, this article isn’t meant to change anyone’s mind. What we should all be aware of though is that the cushion the rich getting richer have means something crucial to your business.

It means you cannot afford to look at the likes of WeWork guy and say ‘Well, hey, he was fine, so I’ll be fine!’

If you’re still in the rags portion of a rags to riches story, honey, you 100% will NOT be okay making the mistakes this guy does. And honestly, until you’ve got at least Oprah money, you won’t be.

So here are some pointers for starting entrepreneurs with moneyed faces on their vision boards.

1: Be aware of your starting point.

Are you working out of a garage? Is that garage the one in the guest house of your parents’ fifth home? Then you’re fine. Go forth and do dumb things, just do your best not to hurt anyone working under you who can’t see you’re going full King Lear on your business. Send them an Edible Arrangement garnished with a few hundred thousand dollars when your disaster chickens come home to roost.

Is that garage out of a house your friends rent, and also you rent it, and also you’re sleeping there? Then ‘Neumanning’ and letting the chips fall where they may is not the strategy for you. Every move you make requires cost analysis, time analysis, ‘Check yourself, sis’ (applicable to all genders), and the humanity that comes with knowing anyone you burn is 100% on your level, and can 100% put those flames back on your ass later on.

2: Keep in mind how much bigger a billion is than a million.

Billion, million, they sound the same, they have zeros, so… they’re basically the same thing, right? No, obviously.

A billion is a thousand million. Another way to put this is 1 million seconds is 11 days, 1 billion seconds is 31 years

Does Beyonce Knowles-Carter have more money than you? She’s worth 400 million, so probably. Oprah Winfrey is worth 6.75 Beyonces at 2.7 billion. At 1 billion, Adam Neumann is worth a little over two Beyonces.

If you don’t even have the assets of a half Beyonce, then you’re not playing on the same platinum court as WeWork, my friend. You’re not backed by a wealthy Japanese financier who is backed by a Saudi Arabian prince.

You cannot afford to make the same mistakes. Put a glaring picture of your mom / my mom / Mr. Terry Crews on your business credit card to help you remember that the mural in your rented office is less important than trademark fees, and calm down.

3: Sip up on that Perspective-Ade.

Or, put another way, just read the first two points here again. This isn’t kid’s stuff, and survivorship bias is beyond real. ‘They don’t write stories about the ones who played it safe,’ is a technical truism I hear from people who think they’re Evel Knievel for putting a mini-mini-golf course in a real estate parking lot.

No arguments from this corner on that, but I have an addendum to it… when was the last time you heard about someone taking a giant risk, losing it all, having to go back to retail, and crying every night?

It’s not just an MLM thing, people.

Analyze yourself, you assets, your ass coverage (insurance, colleagues’ goodwill, your pants) – you are not WeWork, so make like Simba, and remember who you are and what you actually have to work with.

You can't spell "Together" without TGOT: That Goth Over There. Staff Writer, April Bingham, is that goth; and she's all about building bridges— both metaphorically between artistry and entrepreneurship, and literally with tools she probably shouldn't be allowed to learn how to use.

Op/Ed

Social isolation can literally kill you – we need each other

(EDITORIAL) Social isolation and aloneness have bigger consequences than most people realize.

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introspection ask yourself

Can isolation kill you?

Starling birds are often considered a pest because these birds are abundant and usually come in mobs.

Researchers studied the effect of isolation on common starlings and found that when the birds were separated from the flock, it caused increases of the stress hormone, corticosterone. These gregarious birds did not handle isolation very well.

“We live in a society bloated with data yet starved for wisdom. We’re connected 24/7, yet anxiety, fear, depression and loneliness is at an all-time high. We must course-correct,“ said Dr. Elizabeth Kapu’uwailani Lindsey.

We need other people.

Loneliness and isolation have the same effect on humans. Researchers from Brigham Young University found that loneliness increases the risk of mortality by about 26 percent. Social isolation has a little higher risk, 29 to 32 percent.

Most people tend to feel lonely or become more socially isolated as they age.

Some experts believe that middle-aged men are most susceptible to loneliness and isolation.

Loneliness is a subjective feeling, and it’s just as damaging as being socially isolated.

The researchers pointed out that someone who is happy to be alone still suffers from social isolation and thus, the increased risk of death.

On the other end of the spectrum is a person with a lot of social connections, but who does not actually connect with another person face-to-face. This loneliness is not good for people.

When you’re feeling lonely, it’s not enough simply to interact with others. You have to make an emotional connection. People cannot read your mind.

When you’re lonely, you have to let others know.

If you have a support group, reach out. If you don’t have a network of friends and family, you are going to have to create one. For me, it’s my church and community organizations.

You might find friends at the gym, in a theater group, or through volunteering at your local animal shelter.

Go and play cards with a person in a nursing home or just talk. You might be saving their life through your connection by keeping them from feeling alone while also helping yourself.

This story was first published here in 2018.

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Op/Ed

Career pauses can feel painful but can lead to new avenues

(EDITORIAL) My job pause(s) lead to a complete career change…maybe. While at times nausiating, they can lead to refreshing new outcomes

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Career change

What’s worse than stand-still traffic?

The start-stop traffic.

In a standstill, you know where you stand…still. In stop n’ go n’ stop again traffic, you have no clue. You go from 5 to 50 again for all of three feet then back to 5. Eventually, you don’t even care about getting to your destination anymore just so long as the tedium ceases.

My jobs went almost exactly the same way.

Retail work, career work. Retail work, career work. Retail work, career work. And each time I had to take a pause, I didn’t have enough time, money, or interest to keep up with the rising trend of ‘content creators’ who can film, edit, script, photograph, edit THOSE, AND do blogs and emails replacing copywriter positions. So I just stayed scrambling until I could ‘relax’ into a career gig that ended shortly for one reason or another.

Even though I left each advertising job under different circumstances, in late 2019, I realized ‘Okay, maybe it’s ME. Maybe if I’m this frustrated with the traffic, I need to pull off the road.’

The last shift saw me go from copywriter, to house cleaner, to heavy metal head shop gal, to moderating freight brokerage in the span of two months. Hell of a detour…

Of course now that I’m out of full-time work in the field I sold my credit score to break into, the guilt of having left a career I soured on to break into a field I didn’t need to go to college at all for is…crushing. And new beginnings, with wages to match, are hard no matter who you are.

However, this shame and heaviness is all coming from the inside. My parents are proud, my friends are happy for me, and I have yet to hear anyone actively dumping on my decision to purposely exit the salaried copywriting field. And even if everyone sucked about my choice, it wouldn’t change the fact that so far it’s the best one. At some point, you gotta shake yourself by the shoulders, borrow from Mrs. Knowles-Carter, and scream: Suck on my job cause, I’ve had enough.

Why deal with a stigma when you could deal with stigmata, right? Those are way cooler. And I’m pretty done with wounding myself either way.

Multiple small, panicked hiatuses taught me something. Some things. First thing: truly powerful screaming comes from the belly, not the throat. Most relevant thing: I don’t want to write for other people, nor for brands that can’t use some variant of my own voice.

I thought I was a copywriting mimic octopus who could change colors, shapes, and textures to suit an environment, but this whole time I’ve been a chameleon— always keeping my funky fresh shape, and only changing colors to suit how I feel, or to attract mates. Gentlemen.

I’m not going to act like career pauses are some great thing in which to discover yourself and do some eat, pray, love BS. I quite literally almost died of a bad infection during a time I was on a pause with no heath insurance. The pauses were financially and mentally draining, and if it weren’t for extreme strokes of good fortune in several places, I wouldn’t be in a position to write this piece.

What I will say is that I was able to bid the misshapen phoenix cycle I was on a phrantic pharewell, at least I think so. Anything’s liable to change, such is life.

For now, there is only to bag up the ashes and try to use them in fertilizing my next steps.

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Op/Ed

Women empowering phrases can hurt if they’re not authentic

(EDITORIAL) Who’s the Girl Boss? If you have to ask, it isn’t you…and if you have to answer, it’s not you either. False empowering words for women hurt too.

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women inspiring shirt

Pinkwashing. Noun. The practice of cynically plopping of a pastel shade, a string of lace, or a little glitter on absolute Grade-C bull$#!+, and using it to pry open the wallets of women.

Now I know what you’re all thinking. I’m too Deep ™ to enjoy a little fun flashiness or high-femme shenanigans, so I’m invested in raining on your parade, but I assure you this next truth bomb is coming from my heart, not my massive superiority complex.

“Girl Boss, Fempire, Boss Babe” and more are all empty ass phrases designed to separate us she-beasts from our money, our time, and our sanity as business owners.

I’m not against a bumper sticker or enamel pin here and there, don’t get me wrong. If you think for a second I wouldn’t own a shirt that says ‘Boss Bat’, and wear it to literally every business-type meetup under a blazer, you’re just mistaken.

BUT, I’m not here to rant about trinkets and tees this time. That’s the icing.

The moldy, thumbtack-filled cake we’re slicing up here is about the deeper issue of a toxic ‘hustle culture’ being marketed to women, and how insidious it can be for those of us who have to push back not just against the competition, but the idiotic stereotypes about our gender.

As difficult as it can be for even the straightest, whitest of men to start a business without also being rich, the fact that women still need to prove ourselves in a man’s world is an added hardship.

And now that people have realized there’s money to be made exploiting the railing against that hardship, the same dangerous crap being marketed to business owners has now taken on the mask of feminine solidarity.

‘Babes, it’s SUPPOSED to be this hard, stay up the extra 48 hrs and slap on a sheet mask, you’re building your fempire’.

‘Hey, chica, you can’t let the boys see you slip! Get that mani-pedi while you reschedule your pap smear around your conference calls for the 15th time!’

‘Sis, the only source of light you’ve seen in the last month being your computer screen reduced your fine lines and wrinkles! You GLOW girl!’

This is a gaping, gangrenous wound, and a cute lil hashtag-bandaid isn’t going to help matters.

We are literally breaking, bankrupting and KILLING OURSELVES for this ideal.

Know why selling Scentsy is so difficult? It’s not because you’re on your ‘lady-grind’, it’s because it’s a damn pyramid scheme, and you’re not supposed to do well at it.

It’s girl power to study by the lights in your car so you can pay for that “empowering (prerecorded) womens’ webinar’ in the first place right? Dude…no.

Now look.

I recognize that it’s important to make a big deal out of hardworking, successful women, because we’re still, some-crazy-how, not expected to be successes in the first place. It’s not just tempting to stand tall with your feet on the bloody backs of whatever you’ve conquered and scream ‘The best revenge is my paper and your DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM’, it’s necessary.

We’ve not only got the onus on us to make it happen against the odds as A: An entrepreneur, B: A woman, and C: Any other marginalization “points” you might have, there’s the added responsibility of not being allowed to be quiet about how well we’re doing.

Dangit, someone has to pass the torch. Someone has to be the name little girls pick when they’re asked to name a recent example of a “small-brained femoid” kicking entrepreneurial ass. Someone has to support other gals on their come-up, and take the publication photos, and give the Big Sisters – Little Sisters benefit banquet keynote speech, right?

That’s all very true! The spotlight can’t be abdicated frivolously, though I maintain that we’re ALL due for a vacation.

But we women have to also recognize the difference between being catered to and being sold to.

Having the same fast-fashion, peely-print t-shirt as a whole half the planet sucks anyway.

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