Archive for June 2008

Starschmucks

Starbucks has a deal going with AT&T as their new wireless provider; if you register a giftcard on their site (and use it at least once per month), you get two free hours of in-store AT&T wireless daily. (Plus a free drink coupon, free refills, and some other stuff — I registered mine!) On the one hand, yay — I tend to choose Panera over Starbucks when I have a kid-free hour or two to get work done, precisely because of free wireless (and free refills). On the other hand, boo — why run people through the random “register a gift card and get an AT&T account” hoops? I can walk into any Panera and hop onto their wireless without having to remember account info (or to keep using that giftcard). I don’t even really like Panera’s weak coffee, but they trump Starbucks in terms of customer service on this one.

(And yes, I could go to the library — but they don’t have any coffee at all!)

Calloo, Callay!

… My Wii Fit shipped today!

On the setting of goals

Someday, I hope to write a post that starts out similarly to this one from John Scalzi:

I made $164,000 last year from my writing. I’ve averaged more than $100,000 in writing income for the last ten years, which means, for those of you who don’t want to bother with the math, that I’ve made more than a million dollars from my writing in the last decade.

Unfortunately, that day is not today! :) But I’ve been thinking about what separates a Scalzi (or Dr. Frankel – props on the egosurfing, by the way) from the rest of us who make some part of our living from writing and/or speaking — other than the obvious limit, in the library field, of our own market. Scalzi points out that he’s an outlier when it comes to writing income and provides a ton of useful advice about the business of writing and the choosing of markets at the original and a followup post.

I think a good part of this comes down to the making — and pursuing — of long-term goals. I often talk to library folks who don’t want to be where they are — but either don’t know where they actually do want to be, or think it will be too much work to get there, so discourage themselves from even trying.

Five and a half years ago, when my first son was born, I scaled back my “day job” to part time with the long-term goal of working for myself. Three years ago, I quit that part-time job. (I currently gross a bit over what I did when I left my full-time department head position in 2002, but self-employment taxes and lack of benefits leave me significantly further behind.) With two small children at home, this works for now; my new long-term goal is to scale up and start doing more work outside of libraryland, after the younger one is in preschool in a couple of years and I have the necessary blocks of time.

So here be some of my own thoughts, for what they’re worth:

  1. Set achievable goals. How much did you make from your freelance endeavors this year? Set a slightly higher goal next year, and figure out how to get there.
  2. Start out by saying yes. Say yes to things that are unpaid, or that pay badly, or that require you to go out of your way — at the beginning, this is how you build name recognition and a portfolio.
  3. Value yourself and your work. Yes, this does seem contradictory. But at some point, once you have built up a body of work and contacts, you need to start saying no and being more choosy about where you expend your energy.
  4. Get a little help from your friends. You hear about networking’s importance in job hunting — well, freelancing is like going on tiny job interviews, all the time. How do people find out about you? How do you find out about opportunities? Most often, through people you know.
  5. Do ask. Get yourself these two books by Linda Babcock: Women Don’t Ask and Ask for It. Convince yourself of the power of negotiation — and your ability to do so. (Probably more on this later; I just finished Ask for It and am thinking back on where negotiation, or my failure to negotiate, have figured into my own career.)

You may or may not want to work for yourself, but: What are your goals? Where do you want to be in 5 years? If you don’t have any idea, then how do you feel about the thought of being just where you are now, only 5 years older? Now, what are your goals?

And in my spare time…

So not only did Toys R Us cancel my diaper bag order, I just logged into my PayPal account to find that my payment for that order is still tied up as pending, so I now don’t have enough funds available to pay for the bag elsewhere. I dutifully email their special PayPal customer support address and get back an immediate autoresponse:

Dear Valued Customer, Thank you for contacting PayPal Support at www.toysrus.com. As one of our valued customers, we feel that your questions deserve personal attention. Please contact us at 1-800-ToysRUs or 1-888-BabyRUs, and an online customer service specialist will be happy to assist you. We are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week! Thank you for choosing Toysrus.com & Babiesrus.com. We value your business! Please let us know if there is anything else we can do for you, and thank you again for contacting PayPal Support at www.toysrus.com. Sincerely, Customer Service PayPal Support at www.toysrus.com If you have additional questions, please visit our online Help Desk.

Yes, this is what I want to do with my spare time. Don’t list an email address if you don’t staff it, people!

Random links Sunday

It’s my anniversary today, so I’m using this as an excuse to be lazy and just briefly post a few random links I’ve had sitting open in browser tabs forever:

While many library staff do not hold an MLS their contributions are essential to making libraries a success. When I first began working in libraries 9-years-ago I was put off by the terminology used to designate between MLS/non MLS, professional/paraprofessional, librarians/support staff. Coming from the business world I was not accustomed to this segregation. In the business world employees are valued for their unique abilities and contributions to the team. No one ever asked me what my degree was or if I even had one.

Enjoy and click through — these folks more than make up for my brevity here.