😁🐳🎉🐼💝, aka, Management With Emoji

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Last summer, I learned a secret to managing millennials. After years of pleading for better communication from them, I accidentally stumbled upon a language we have in common: emojis.

As the program director of a regional junior sailing program, I’ve been working with and managing college and high-school aged employees for over a decade. I oversee 40 sailing instructors and 20 sailing courses over ten intense summer weeks. I love the work, especially being a manager; I thrive on creating an environment that’s enjoyable for both our students and instructors alike. 

As rewarding as management is, it can also be extremely challenging. Most of the people I supervise are in high school and college, and due to the nature of the work, we need to be in touch all day long, often by text. This is where communication began to break down in recent years. If I sent a text to an instructor asking them to do something and didn’t get a response, I had to assume the message had not been received. If it was something time-sensitive, it meant I had to send the text again. Or call. Or email. Or call the manager and ask for the message to be delivered in person. It was annoying and a big waste of time. (read more…)

But Wait, I’m a Feminist!

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Last year I got caught in an existential battle between my inner feminist and my ego.

I was giving someone I used to supervise her annual review. I had only good things to say about Victoria (not her real name): her work was excellent, on time, and thoughtful. She was young and early in her career, and I was really happy with her development and wanted her to be satisfied in her role. She’d been underpaid for some time, and I had worked hard to get a significant raise for her approved by my boss. Victoria and I had sometimes struggled to connect, and I was looking forward to giving her the good news.

After I told her that I was really happy with her work and wanted to show my appreciation with a salary increase of more than 20 percent, I waited to see Victoria smile and hear her expression of happiness. Only she didn’t seem especially glad. (read more…)

F*&%! Where’d the Path Go?

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I’m confused about what comes next in life. It’s not just me. I see others struggling too. I’ve heard the following statements in just the last few weeks:

  • A friend: “I just want someone to tell me what job would be good for me.”
  • Someone thinking about changing jobs: “I’m paralyzed by a fear of a misstep.”
  • A 24-year-old: “I feel like I’ve squandered my life so far. What have I achieved?”

We worry about our place in the working world, and if we are making the right decisions (as if there is such a thing). We worry about which next step leads to the right ultimate goal. We struggle to figure out what are strengths are and how to use them. We worry that we are missing the right/best/perfect opportunity. (read more…)

No Longer the Smartest Kid in the Room

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The most blissful moment of my life was near the end of my freshman year, when my high school gave out awards for academic excellence. I won honors in three subjects—I was most proud of the English honors—and then took the cake overall: I had the highest GPA in my grade. Walking down from the bleachers, being watched by everyone, wearing a pretty dress picked out for the occasion—it was a perfect experience. Before I accepted the medal and shook hands with the principal, I thought, “This is the best I’ve ever felt.”

I felt completely validated by the external measure of accomplishment. Being best in my class bolstered my sense of self-worth. That was the pinnacle; sophomore year I had the second highest GPA, junior year, the third highest. I left high school early to go to Reed College, but once there, found I had no coping mechanisms for not being the smartest kid in the room. My classes were interesting, but I was overwhelmed and unable to cope with the amount of reading assigned. I had a nervous breakdown. I left Reed. I dabbled in community college for a bit, but after a year I dropped out altogether. Of course, too much homework wasn’t the root of my problems; the real issue was clinical depression (for which I am thankfully now medicated and therapized). Without academic success I didn’t feel anchored. (read more…)

“Do I Have it Figured Out?”

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When you grow up witnessing your dad beat your mom, does that shape what you do with your life? Saeeda Hafiz focused on school, going to college and landing good job in banking… only to realize that this wasn’t for her. She started taking cooking and yoga classes, and was captivated by the power of holistic living to nurture and heal her. (read more…)