Posts Tagged ‘business analysis’

I’m an artist at heart (head, body and soul). Art in many forms inspires and drives me, but for-profit business, technology and the understanding of technology – specifically business analysis, project management and product management pays me. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t dislike my job, in fact I enjoy it very much. I love working with and learning about technology, performing detailed business analysis and functional specifications in the creation of products. But, it’s not my passion when I wake up at night with a story in my head, nor is it a driving force 24/7. That passion and driving force belongs to the art of storytelling.

I agree that you can be a lifelong learner and creator of art but for many of us, this happens mostly if you’re a lifelong earner – or at least until your art can afford to match or surpass your current or projected worker bee salary. So how do you get to the point of earning decent or relatively good income from your art? For me, I haven’t reached that point of understanding yet nor but I have read what many self-proclaimed and touted experts have to say on the topic. I also don’t foresee giving up my day job because I really do enjoy it and I’m proud of the career I’ve built over the span of approximately 20 years.

So what does this have to do with my artist’s head and my business professional’s wallet? Well, I think I have to accept two things, understand how my worlds intersect with the acceptance that one feeds the other, and remember to celebrate my small wins .

The two things I have to accept:

1. I’m unique but not really. What I mean by this is that while we would all love to think we are unique, we humans may have some differences but we have way more similarities than we’d care to admit. Let’s face it, it’s the differences that stir up or highlight what we call “unique qualities” but I’m sure if I search not-so-far and not-so-wide, I can find another person very much like me. So I need to find a way to sell my “uniqueness” in that I need to offer the world a valuable and worthwhile item and illustrate why it’s different than anything else they’ll come across at the moment. I also need to ensure that it provides much more than the average cuppa joe, which I used in my marketing as you’ll see a little further along in this post, and that like a tasty cuppa something good, it’s a tasty mind treat. I won’t lie, I dreaded “selling” the premise behind my book and still, sometimes do. But this challenge brought me to my next realization.

2. I have to think of my art as a commercial product. This thought evoked screams of phrases that I never really use like, “EGADS” and “YIKES” as well as worn out phrases I use regularly such as, “Fuckadoodledoo!!! Nooooooo!!! Fucketyfuckaduck”. After all the screaming, I still had to accept the fact that yes, I needed to market a commercial product. Did it make me happy? Hell no. But it was the truth and I couldn’t find a reasonable way to dispute it. Well, I could but then I’d have zero sales.

So how does this intersect with my other life as a business professional? By realizing that my ideas, stories, poems, etc. can be abstract, different, quirky, dark as black on midnight and whatnot but my once I ask for money, it becomes a commercial product that I need to sell and promote like any other computer system I’ve worked hard to build and showcase, and like any other business process and product I’d like a client to pay money for. And as things go with commercial products, there’s a ton of competition out there. So what makes me worth the monetary support? My unique points of view and the way I tell a story. See how I’ve come full circle here? 🙂

So to illustrate this commercial product mindset, I made sure that my book contained more poems than I’d seen in one book for my set price of $7.99 for a relatively unknown author. After all, this was my first release and I was a (still am, in many ways) relatively unknown on the writing circuit outside of the poetry worlds I visited from time to time. I have some regular please where I am recognized and supported like poetry clubs, shows and regular gigs where I did readings and fell into hosting open mic nights, etc. with accompanying jazz bands and other types of music. However, this was limited to two major U.S. cities so I was hardly breaking the bank or towns via this circuit.

Part of my marketing schtick was that my book cost LESS than two large cups of coffee from Starbucks (venti, as it’s known to the Starbuckians) and in some venues, when you purchased my book, you received a bonus audio track, free of charge or some other small freebie I could drum up for that night. And whaddya know, for a first time effort, it worked! However, as with most new things, there was a sales lull a few months later. So, to stir interest, I decided to set up a couple of giveaways. I gave my book away, FREE of charge on designated days to anyone who wanted to download it and on the first free day, there was tons of downloads.

What did that tell me? It told me that while I didn’t become rich because of my writing, I could carry on with being UTTERLY STOKED and SUPER EXCITED because people wanted to read what I wrote! And I needed freebies or something to show customers that I valued and appreciated their business. Yes, I know that a purchase doesn’t guarantee a read, but in my writerly world, it most certainly filled my need of getting the word out about my book and in encouraging those who were still reluctant to part with their cash, to pick up a copy and give it a go. On top of that excitement, I received some wonderful feedback on my poems from people I’d never met and I made some great online friends who were all about discussing ideas and ideals and all that’s in-between and who still provide encouragement from time to time. It was all worth it!

Another “win” in my opinion, was one that I wanted to scream about, but in a different way than when I realized my passion was being $old was that I lost some friends and family. My former friends and family (wish I had a way to denote former family. Sad that you can’t legally get rid of them, just have to ignore their existence) couldn’t find it in their heart to support my writing dreams because they didn’t agree with the content and my “leanings into gay stuff” (<< eloquent quote, ain’t it??). I was also told that my “homo-ness” and “homo love” wasn’t something that their religion and God could accept. These statements, along with many others that are worse, were said to me on many occasions. Nice “Godly” folks, ain’t they? 

Thankfully, my sanity was retained by the people who truly loved, and still, love me. They reminded me that many were scared of their own emotions or of what thoughts would get stirred and most of all, that you don’t want fake support from the wolf in sheep’s clothing. My head told me that I should rise above and even forgive the comments and reactions, but my heart couldn’t. After all, here I was, doing relatively well according to society’s rules – great job and successful career, higher education club member, yadda, yadda, yadda – but  there I was, being shunned for being myself and writing about my life and about people who needed a voice. Mind you, it wasn’t all “gay leanings” that made things bad. I wrote about the death penalty, abuse and things that go bump in the night, but I guess to them, things like that should stay in the closet, under the bed, stuffed in your pants or roaming around in your head.

So what saved me and made me want to keep writing in spite of the shunning? My loved ones – the ones who truly loved me, and honestly, the wonderful and overwhelming feedback from those who purchased my book! Their love, support and acceptance warmed the cockles of my heart and reminded me that without the book, I may have never met some of them. In my opinion, the reward was absolutely worth it. Besides, it gave me the opportunity to do something that I didn’t realize, needed to be done. I had to accept myself and my own musings. I hadn’t fully accepted myself and the things I think about, when I let the voices of others eff with me and make me question myself and my life. In many ways, direct rejection was the proverbial ripping off of the band-aid that I needed to let the fear, scab and hurt of all that I am and write, heal. Interestingly enough, it inspired me to do better, be better and to just write what I felt without fear of rejection. So in a way, I should thank them for being jackholes – but I won’t. Look, I’m not perfect but I’m trying. 

So to all of you  out there struggling to be the real and true you, to artists who are unsure if they’ll keep creating due to fear of rejection or fear of being true to yourself, remember that you must push on, push through and KEEP ON doing what you love! Why? Because when you do whatever makes your heart sing, I guarantee there are people in the world who will appreciate and love what you do. I guarantee there’ll be people who get you and who would want more. Sometimes the world doesn’t know what is needed until they see it, hear it or experience it.

KEEP CREATING! KEEP WRITING! KEEP SKETCHING! KEEP COMPOSING! KEEP SHINING! The world needs artists, creators, composers, writers, etc. just as much as they need business professionals, career individuals, and for-profit organizations.

For all of you who read what I write, who get me, who feel lost but keep on keeping on, I appreciate and admire you. If no one has said it today, let me say it: YOU ROCK! Don’t ever give up on your dreams or stop doing what makes you excited and happy even when jackholes try to stop you.

Huggles and lots of artistic, feel good creation vibes! 😉
Natasha

My work thus far:

  • Website and samples are available here
  • My book, “Hungover Poet” is available here

Drop me a line and let me know if I can support you in any way. I love making friends and checking out new projects, and art in general!

At this point in my life of more than 30 years but not quite 40, I realized I’ve worked for about 20 of those years for a paycheck from a company or another person. As it turns out, some have been more reputable than others, some have been more profitable than others, some have been very good to me and some have made me extremely unhappy. Based on my extensive amounts of wasted time on social media, in bookstores, and bars around the nation, ahem, I mean years of research on the subject of personal satisfaction through a job, I’ve come to the conclusion that not many, if any, will always be completely satisfied or thrilled with their job.

However, there are so many wonderful success stories that show people who live for, and enjoy their work. Of course this leads me to ask, “Why don’t I feel that way after a couple of years in any job?” I thought long and hard about this question – while sober, with alcohol, individually, with my best friend, and even while in groups, and I think I’ve come to a conclusion. Granted, it’s not the only conclusion I reached, but it’s the one I understand most and I have examples from everyday life to back it up.

Nietzsche said several things related to truth which resonate with me. They include, “Some people don’t want to hear the truth because it destroys their illusions” and something to the effect of “There’s your truth, my truth”…and the truth that doesn’t exist, something like that. Either way, my truth as it stands now, is that after careful, and much thought and analysis, while I enjoy the core aspects of my job and dare say I am good at it, I tend to work in organizations where those at the higher level (most often executive management) view employees as just numbers or simple chess pieces that can be moved around at will by those who desire to make an impression or name for themselves by forging ahead without regard, at times to a team’s concerns, feelings, opinions, etc.

It is important to note that some members of the executive teams over the years have been excellent and in no way am I lumping all of the managers I know into one careless category. My goal in this post is to highlight some of the issues that led me to this self-analysis and dissatisfaction I have felt in the past. This includes many of the days when, in the midst of productivity and forging ahead to pave the way for a product or service as requested and deemed essential by an organization, my teammates and colleagues and I have been asked to provide a product or service to clients without thorough testing and adequate time to build and design properly, or by totally disregarding the words of experienced advice from several who have done it before – successfully and not as successfully,

My basic assumption, because often times I am not allowed to ask questions of certain decision makers, is that people who deem themselves leaders in the industries in which I’ve worked, do not really want to know what development, analysis or testing teams think, or actually do, especially when it may negatively impact the bottom line or impact a deadline promised. A wonderful example of this can be found in the recent maps debacle that the Apple company faced. Everyone knows you can’t drive through the Hoover Dam or get away by driving through closed streets without a fine, or worse yet, dying, because you’ve driven your car with your loved ones off a bridge that a faulty map claimed was open and complete.

Other interesting observations include the following bad habit facts that I learned how to avoid in Kindergarten and have tried to stick to, but sometimes fail in doing, when I’m frustrated.
They include:

  • People who take the advice of highly paid consultants over their highly qualified/smart employees. And yes, I’ve been on both sides of this fence – a consultant and an employee so no, I’m not a bitter employee making a case for being heard. This is an observation. The irony is that some will favor the consultants at times but in the end, ignore their advice and then get who gets to clean up the errors and bugs and communication issues. Yes, the team who warned against the bad decisions.
  • Management and teammates who like to call themselves leaders but have not read any books on the topic, studied it, or simply observed the mannerisms, attitudes and behaviors of highly effective leaders. Some aren’t even nice or polite to coworkers and people in general. I think that’s all I need to say here.
  • People who love to hear themselves talk or value their own opinions more than anyone else’s. These individuals cut others off in mid-sentence, ask questions that were already asked and answered by someone else at the very same table in the very same room a few minutes earlier and sometimes speak louder to get their points across. These are the same folks also forget to stop, listen to and address questions because they’re so busy trying to move forward, any question, no matter how valid, are incorrectly seen as speed bumps.

Now, in spite of all of this analysis of what drives me bonkers, I have only myself to blame for the conundrum/quagmire/clusterf***/annoying ass situation in which I find myself mired. Why? Maybe, as my bestie suggested during one of our heavier talks, I just went with the flow of what was available for a paycheck and continued to build on that house of paper and paychecks without truly following my dreams or desires.

Well, great observation, but now what? I won’t give up a job I enjoy most days, or let’s face it – the paycheck, but I will work on finding ways to find my happiness, which is easier said than done…but…I have faith in being able to find it before I die. And if I die before I find it, I will fulfill the “Try or die trying” quest!