Barbie Will Be Back

I interviewed with Mattel a few years ago. During the discussion I mentioned that the toy industry was changing. There were so many new toys that would be challenging the ideals that Mattel had built itself on.

Anki, while significantly more expensive than Mattel’s Hot Wheels, changes how kids (and adults) would think about toy cars. They look amazing, had futuristic styling and were laden with technology.

Then I dared to slander the holiest of Mattel toys, Barbie. I made mention that it would be a challenge as more interesting options were emerging in the market. I suggested that this set of female action heroes I found on Kickstarter was onto something.

First, they were all female. They were all diverse – in shape (yeah), power and intrigue. Second, they weren’t just carbon copies on different sheets of colored paper.

The interviewer just looked at me and said, “Barbie will be back. She always does.”

I wasn’t quite so sure. I didn’t get the job.



The Culture

(source: flickr.com via @_dchris)

Four months in and I’m getting the hang of the place. By hang, I mean I understand how things sort of work. And by work, I mean that each department does things differently because there are just no rules about what can and can’t be done. It’s the Wild West.

Since the money is still rolling in, this shoot first and ask questions later seems to be tolerated. Never mind that the company has culled a large proportion of its workforce in the last year. Never mind that there is little sense of team and that lunch hours are usually solo eating ventures. The place is still commercially viable despite its foibles.

I begin to think that this is the culture. Everything is down to the individual. Want to get things done? Do it your way. Just make sure that the margins are positive. There is no trust here. Everyone is in it for themselves and just be thankful that the boat isn’t sinking.

Then I read this about a letter sent by the CEO of Airbnb about keeping a company’s culture alive to sustain its future. If the company I work for is still making some money despite its appalling culture, is that such a bad thing?

Maybe I’m just in the wrong place, the wrong time but I have little faith here. Just like everyone else, I’m in it for me. I don’t trust in anyone doing the right thing and I’m just waiting for the right time to jump ship.


No Sympathy for the Wicked

(Source: flickr.com via @MelinaSouza

Disdain for an employer seems to be the common theme for much of this blog. When I think back to why I seem to build a hatred for a working environment, I can usually pin it down to individuals who are difficult to work with and for.

I always remember my first ever supervisor and when I tried to spruce up a presentation, he said that, “We don’t do that kind of thing here. If you want to be creative, go to Design.” That was quite an awful thing to hear in your first real job after trying to show some initiative.

Soon after that, I had a temperamental manager who was a genius and therefore measured your work against his considerable intellect. Naturally, a person could never measure up and I can remember oozing out of his office a number of times after his eruptive review of my output.

Now in this current environment, the pattern repeats. There is a senior consultant whose behavior is frustratingly erratic. At one point, she would eviscerate you for not doing a particular task in front of stakeholders and then be peachy sweet at the end of that meeting.

Her inconsistency in behavior is whispered about among those within the pod and we seek sympathy from each other whenever we got our humps busted. She is a constant reminder of who I don’t want to be.

I don’t know why humans mutate once they’re gathered in a commercial environment. This work-face makes them lesser human beings and the sooner the separation between that and home-face dissolves, the better working life is going to be.


Thinking About the Future

(Source: flickr.com via @Randall)

What this awful job has made me realize is that I’ve meandered for too long. While there have been creaking door openings for some ideal corporations, either I wasn’t quite the right person for them or that I just didn’t press my case as well as I could.

So, I’m annoyed that I can’t quite realize something that I’ve always wanted to do. A future where I’m just another guy with unfulfilled dreams looms large. That pains me because I’ve always felt that I could do something meaningful. Now, it’s looking more likely that I’ll just be ordinary. While that isn’t such a bad thing, wouldn’t it be nicer to make a big change, be a bit of a difference somehow?

Of course, time moves and sitting still won’t change things.


Three Interviews in Four Days

(Source: flickr.com via @hlwindcrampe)

Yes, it’s up to this point. Thankfully, there is a small window of opportunity here. Three companies that were happy to chat with roles that are in my wheelhouse.

Unlike last year, at least I’m still getting paid. The situation isn’t so desperate and I actually feel that I have a chance. I know I’ve hired myself in the past but this feels different. I am calmer and when I’m there yakking with the HR folk, I am less emotionally involved, like I’m watching it all from above.

I don’t know if that helps in the long run but it feels less painful if I get rejected (yeah, I’m thinking of that, too). The most valuable thing I’ve learned is that I know what I like and this current job isn’t that.


That’s Another Week

(Source : flickr.com via @JennisWerner)

Unfortunately, that’s how I’m viewing this job. I’ve never really been a weekend-welcomer, someone who just can’t wait until Friday but that’s pretty much what I’ve become. I’m not pleased about it but my day brightens when I get home. It stays that way until the next day and so the cycle goes.

If my GM were to ask me if the work was satisfying, I would find it difficult to say the truth. Yes, it’s a job. Yes, it pays. That’s why I’m here. Just a body who can do the work but not really loving it. I can’t find any value in it for my future but I have to persist because of the money. That is just a terrible state to be in – doing the job just for cash. I’ve never been that way and faking a positive attitude and mercenary perspective just grinds at my conscience.

Knowing this, I’ve already started looking and thankful that a couple of recruiters have actually called back. This is a positive. Working and trying to find a more suitable job is a great place to be. I’m grateful for having this job but it really isn’t for me. I’m torn between thankfulness for the chance and the pain of having to be in an environment that I find no joy in.

I can only try and be positive and not disparage the firm and its people. I just need to find something else for my own happiness.


So, I’m Working Again

(Source: flickr.com via @SoundsLogical

It all started about six weeks ago and I’m grateful for paid work. The job is very different from my past, focused more on business processes and what would be the mechanics of business improvement. I got the job because someone my wife knew needed a body with a little business nous. So, I’m here, working.

In all my career, I’ve only really worked for two companies and that gives a very limited view of business in general. This new company is really no different from the others. They’ve all had some success in the past but are now trying to adjust to a new market but is being held back by that heavy history; some people are less willing to change and the momentum is slow.

A former colleague would say that “grass is grass”, meaning that it’s no greener on the other side. This new experience proves that to be true. There are people that helped me ease into an unfamiliar industry. There are others who start the relationship testing my ability, looking for ways to doubt.

I can only hope to add something to this business and along the way pick up something for myself without losing too much along the way.