Friday, November 05, 2004

Catalyst

Warning: I'm in the mood for something more positive, mushy, and thoughful. Read at your own risk.

I wanted to take the time to write a bit about my new job with Catalyst. I loathe to even call it a job because I realize that it is quickly becoming much more. Those of you who've spoken to me live and in person can testify to my rather fanatical excitment when discussing Catalyst. It's strange and wonderful to feel so fulfilled by my job. I suppose I should provide some background. Many years ago, after being nearly destroyed by my very first job out of college, I learned how to very effectively seperate my happiness from the events and progression of my career. I vowed that I would never allow my sense of self to be defined by what I did professionally. But I now find myself at a bit of a crossroad. I enjoy what I do at Catalyst. I enjoy it a lot. Damn, I love it. I am inspired every day that I go to work. My collegues are brilliant and I am challenged by their intelligence, their passion, and their commitment to Catalyst's mission. I'm one of LEAST educated people in the entire organization. The subject matter I work with, research, and present is some of the most fascinating and compelling material I've ever worked with. I spend 8 hours every day thinking about issues of diversity, inclusion, corporate social responsibility, and gender equity in the corporate workforce! I get to develop solutions that are not only good for women and people of color, but good for business at large! I'm doing something that betters society; that actually improves the quality of life for people like myself. Catalyst is not motivated by profit, we have a higher mission and will not be bullied by clients to provide advice that we do not believe in. In the 2+ months that I've been with the company, I have not worked on a single project where I was not intrinsically interested in the material. I feel I am morally, ethically, and intellectually in tune with Catalyst. It makes it really easy to go out and conduct workshops, moderate panels, give speeches, and represent the organization to the public.

To top it all off, I feel respected. Not just as a professional, not just as an intellectual, but as a whole person. Catalyst realizes that people have lives and my quality of life has never been better. Sure, I'm busy on occassion, but I'd say that I'm averaging 45 hours of work per week. The official work week is 35 hours and we are STRONGLY encouraged to try to maintain normal hours. Flexibility is not even a question. Need to work at home for a few days - no problem. Have to run an errand - no problem. Just so long as I am transparent about my where abouts, flexiblity is a non-issue. Your birthday day is an offical holiday - and you can take it off anytime after your birthday!

The ironic thing is that had I not spent the last 7 years doing jobs where I was 1) treated miserably, 2) intellectually uninterested, 3) micromanaged, 4) had no quality-of-life, or 5) sexually harassed both peripherally and directly, I don't know if I'd have developed the skills necessary to join Catalyst. Don't get me wrong, all of my jobs provided me with at least one skill or bit of knowledge that is indispensible to me.

Accenture - taught me client management & project management skills, deep change management & org. development knowledge, and professional discipline.
T3 Media - taught me the art of managing internal politics.
American Express - taught me that big corporate can, on occasion, do it right.
WetFeet - increased the range and depth of my HR knowledge, taught me significant qualitative and quantitative research skills, and provided me with director levels skills.

Heck, even my MBA played a significant role in securing my place at Catalyst. Here is a hint for any female minority out there. Get an MBA - it's amazing how desirable you become.

While the cynic in me keeps telling my emotional self to calm down, be sensible, and wait for the other shoe to fall, I can't help but think that the shoe will turn out to be a cute little size 6.5 Marc Jacob number. Maybe even one with a cute bow. Every director and/or senior director in my department has been with the company for 4 or more years and they continue to be as passionate and committed as I am.

So why am I writing this? To make you feel unhappy about your life? To be boastful? No, that's not my goal at all. I guess what I'm trying to say is...be honest with yourself. Ask yourself what you really want to do and then start the engine to get it done. Make the hard decisions, muck through the crap...don't be afraid to take risk. Try something where the outcome is not certain. Don't make decisions based on the financial reward. And even when things get really rough, don't stop, things get better. If you made your decision with good intentions, then only positive outcomes will materialize.

And yes, I'm really busy...really busy. Expectations are high, deadlines are approaching, and A LOT of eyes are on me. But I'm not afraid.

It feels nice...really nice.

1 comment:

Ellen said...

So happy to hear your passion about what you do. I only hope to achieve this, and I look forward to hearing more about what you are learning! I'm very proud of you - you go girl!