The Most Evil Boss Ever


Monday, May 16, 2016

Is Being Overdressed at Work that Bad?

Better than underdressed, right?

Over the weekend, I took a glance at my local A.M. news and noticed that the weather girl on KTLA was either just leaving, or on her way to the club.  She didn't look bad but the sequined little black dress seemed out of place.  She was later given a sweater that looked itchy and until she worked some kind of magic, seemed shapeless.  This story has spread worldwide because this "drama" allegedly played out on the air, including encouraging her to put on a sweater. Courtesy of Bossip.

Now, I've been in situations where I didn't have the right clothes for the office.  Most common is not only working long hours but a noticeable distance from home and not having the energy to wash or pick up my dry cleaning.  One situation also included having new neighbors that tied up the machines until late.  By the time I considered getting a compact washing machine for the service porch, they moved out.

Once a good acquaintance applied for a customer service job at DirecTV in the late 90s and wore a cocktail dress to the panel interview.  Now if she had a straight, simple sleeveless thing like Liberte Chan, it might have been okay but her ruffled, satiny thing only screamed prom throwback.

The only thing I can recommend for someone short on cash is to visit their local Dress for Success facility.  I interned at the L.A. location last year and there are many offerings.  Now most who qualify for free work clothes must be referred by an agency but a few times a year, they have sales to the public where no item is more than $20.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Content Writing Company Tea

Over the weekend, I got a very interesting email from Express Writers.  I applied once and really don't remember whether I was accepted because I never get work offers but I get plenty of solicitations for service.  Back then, it was nothing for me to not note why I didn't get accepted or receive work but the following may give past applicants or contractors some insight -
Hi clients and friends,

Express Writers has been around since early 2011, and in the past three years we relied on two people we came to believe were of the highest quality and work ethic: Annie and Alecs Ianko, our Content Manager and Accounts Manager.

Turns out, they're not.

We had to terminate them last night after a company audit revealed they were notating fake work amounts for more than a year, and stealing untold amounts of dollars. For instance, in one day Annie recorded that she'd edited 30,000 words when she actually edited a 400-word piece; this turned into weeks and weeks of fake records of work. She was paid for all these inflated numbers for more than a year. Besides this, she's been responsible for hiring editors that were purposefully placing typos within content (and being paid). Who knows what inspired those negative actions. Annie and Alecs Ianko are thieves, and should be avoided at all costs; they are running a scam.

We're going to take legal action, but for now, we need to make sure we focus on the problem at hand. We are hiring and training an experienced replacement today (Mother's Day weekend currently on hold), and we're reaching out to all of you because Annie has already mass emailed several people with false information. I want you to know the truth from me.

If you've seen any kind of poor content delivered to you by our team at Express Writers in the past month or two, I personally apologize and ask that you reply, let me know what the quality issue was, and we'll give you a coupon for your next order. Just hit reply; it'll go straight to me.

All in all, this discovery, although hard, is an extremely good thing; we'll be able to have a much better eye on our quality and enforce great writing standards. This comes on the heels of our upcoming major re-launch, where we pay writers nearly double and have a custom built ordering system that answers most of the frustrations we've heard from you in the past year.

Enjoy your weekend, and rest assured that Express Writers has the quality of your content at heart! We're inspired to work harder than ever now.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

What Prince Taught Us About Having a USP

A unique selling proposition is something that can dog the person looking to work a simple 9-5 so that bills can be paid on time but it’s necessary to survive in entertainment.  The legendary musician obviously did more than survive for nearly 40 years in an industry that is equally temperamental and chaotic.  The new entrepreneur can have the best of both worlds if they care careful about one thing besides keeping up with output…the right visuals.

This isn’t to imply that someone put on a pair of fancy heels and play the guitar better than Slash but in the ultra-competitive world of e-commerce, learning how to re-invent and shine is imperative.  It’s about taking a true look at self, then the competition, and taking inventory of what not to do.  The fun part is you may get the attention you weren’t expecting but staying true to your talents is what will get people buzzing.

A long time ago, in the early days of internet, I was playing around with some ways to advertise my services.  This was back in the days of PageMaker and I thought my creations were beyond outstanding.  One promotion intended for direct mail went something like “Don’t be a Chicken with Your Design” in the headline.  Sure enough, a pasted clip art of a rooster served as a logo with below text highlighting what I could do in terms of desktop publishing and copywriting.

Not only was it corny and imperfect and didn't get me any jobs but it did what memes do today.  It made people laugh (the only thing I liked about working in an office with a bunch of women) and it got their attention. It turned out to be a cheap and cheesy form of network marketing. Prince opening for the Rolling Stones in 1981 may not have been one of his better moments (I often compare it to Hendrix opening for the Monkees back in the 60s but a little violent) but it got his name known outside of those who mostly listened to R&B music back then.

So there’s nothing wrong with integrating self-expression with your true feelings in promotions, as long as it’s relatable to your audience….not everyone.  Had Prince copied Michael Jackson’s early boy-next-door image and seemingly timid mannerisms, celebrations of his life would not go beyond his hometown of Minneapolis.  Heck, he may have been out of show business by now and forced to do something work a 9-5.

By keeping it fresh, consistent and believable, they will come back for an encore performance!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

What "Watch the Stove" Taught Us About Social Media

Who'd ever thought a staple that goes back for decades could present a fresh concept in how we present social media postings?
Fast. Affordable. Lends itself well to variations like bacon and mushrooms. But Hamburger Helper as a rapper? At first, I thought about intellectual property rights that may have been violated. However, it was that cute little white glove drenched in liquid gold that drew me in.

In case you haven't heard, the April Fool's prank was the brainchild of General Foods and Adweek has the details behind the viral mixtape. The five tracks are modern hip-hop influenced rhymes that mostly talk about the Hamburger Helper and cooking in general. If one weren't listening closely to the lyrics, it could easily be mistaken for a Top 40 hit worthy of twerking across the floor.

Since the golden years, the instant casserole has been popular with those who either hate to cook or don't have the time. However, this will most likely present a renewed interest in the budget-friendly meal preparation. Why? Because social media is great at sharing good news but when it's something really unexpected...people are quicker to hit the share button.

Before you dig up your lost poetic efforts and set them to music, consider how your brand could benefit from sending your followers a nice surprise. Has content gone stale? Is your cat tired of being photographed because you heard pets with paws were the hot trending thing three years ago? Maybe your inner thespian is ready to come out in a video marketing campaign you've been toying around with.
Remember, the opportunities are endless.

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Ladies..Aren't You Glad These Days Are Over (pretty much anyway)?

 This clip is from the 1950s where women had to announce to their employer when they were getting married, bending over backwards (compared to today) to prove they were competent for the position (bearings inspector sounds like an assembly gig) and the stereotype that women made things more "complicated".  Enjoy watching Brad get his draws in a bunch because he can't handle a little estrogen.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

When Contradictions Go Wrong

In my many years of working, I've seen variations of favoritism and other foul acts committed by the powers that be (TPTB).  And it's one of the things that at-home workers or small business owners don't miss because often it's too easy to find opportunities elsewhere.  Anyway, most of us can relate to having to take that entry-level gig to get to the mountain top.  This includes people who have to work at Jack Astor's Bar & Grill, where they're obviously treated unfairly.

I get that places like Hooters have set a standard of sorts when it comes to the look of the help (because the food is highly overrated, IMO).  They want to sell some level of appeal, like healthy bustlines, a nice smile, or long flowy hair. 

Now the latter is problem in the linked story and it's a moment of confusion for me.  During my time in hospitality, long hair was a no-no.  It can get caught in equipment and though all hair sheds, short hair is best but a ponytail is better.  The goal here is to protect the establishment from a lawsuit, right?

Akua Agyemfra is the woman who wore long, flowy braids to her interview but is being condemned for wearing her natural (read: Afro) style in a nice, conservative bun.  And now she has to deal with lawyers because it's a form of discrimination and the unwillingness to taint peoples food with product-coated hair shreds.

Tell me, can a bun prevent people from being engaging, detail-oriented and nice? Those were the basic qualifications of being part of the service industry.  I've seen people (yes, men AND women) with hair product ad-perfect locks and the worst attitude because their agent forgot to call them.

Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Average Help is Hard to Find

This is a true story that is kind of funny.  Last week, my elderly aunt went missing.  She got in her vehicle to drive to my cousin's home but never arrived.  She's been going through some things that come with age but refused to let age stop her from getting around.

After several days of waiting and fearing the worst as days passed, a Silver alert was put out by local police.  My family in TX had to take a crash course in Media 101 to get the story to the local news and social media.  Then it happened.

A nurse at an Arlington hospital just happened to have the news on TV when my aunt's face flashed across the screen.  That face matched the face of a new patient the staff only knew as "Vi".

The story is that my aunt missed the freeway off-ramp, got lost and ended up at the hospital after getting involved in a hit-and-run.  The other driver got away and she wasn't hurt but was taken by ambulance as a precaution.

Upon arrival, my aunt's memory was on leave so she couldn't give staff her full name or the name of the nearest living relative.  As the days passed, my aunt had food, shelter, and a place to lay her head - for several days.  No questions asked.

She told us that she wouldn't let staff hold her purse and the police was never called.  No one gave thought as to whether this woman has a family or loved ones.  My aunt has an easygoing disposition and was probably nice to have around but who does this?  I suggested that the staff open her belongings in her presence but by this time, she was found and the Silver Alert cancelled..

While the thought of being able to crash somewhere under the condition of no questions asked may be nice.  However, due diligence would have saved the hospital money as well as the nerves of her loved ones.

Monday, March 7, 2016

Looking to Sharpen Your Developer or IT Skills?


While looking for some leads for my biz, I ran across an ad for Girl, DevelopIT! in one of those feminist magazines and here's the summary -

They have chapters in most major cities and offer hands-on computer training for everyone (yes, men are invited).
  • Most classes are evenings and weekends.
  • The prices are low and there are scholarships available as well as volunteer opportunities where one can earn a free class.
These classes have a laid-back, no pressure vibe and if someone is looking to get into web development or just understand web languages like HTML and CSS better, I'd recommend this over most colleges and some vocational schools don't offer the advanced stuff like AJAX, JavaScript and Perl training.

I took the FTP class a couple of weeks ago and so far, I haven't been pressured to join any groups (they have a Meetup page) or buy anything else.

Friday, January 29, 2016

When Work at Home Gets Tough

Maybe you’ve been at this and you’re very successful – so much that you don’t feel right trusting someone else.  Or, you are finding your rhythm but barely keeping up with bills.  As working at home is becoming a new ways of life for many, adjustments must be made to stay afloat.  
While the monotony of performing a single task on a salaried job is history, sometimes keeping different functions going (production, marketing, and clerical tasks) can be draining after a while.  If you have an assistant, this can be good or ….?

Unless a person knows that an assistant will hang in there through feast and famine, just the thought of getting an email stating their resignation can give one pause.  So the best thing to do is stop and find out what small areas can be worked on while you’re tackling the big projects.  Catching things early can also help in matters where a large order or sudden increase in sales has taken over your work at home life.

Here are some simple suggestions for getting ahead so you can take time for self -

  • Keep a notepad or small calendar to take notes on hand at all times.  This can be to record ideas, set deadlines or milestones.  The idea here is to reduce time in front of computer screen and enjoy fresh air.
  • Make a schedule if you haven’t started already.  Some may look at this as stifling the creative process but staring blankly into a screen, or worse, visiting recreational websites during work time can make matters worse.
  • Keep a stash of fresh content nearby.  For those who work mostly online, keeping engagement going for marketing and promotional purposes is a challenges.  Instead of running to an outsourcing company and going through a screening process, upload quality content with good keyword balance that can be quickly tailored and ready to go.
  • Take advantage of scheduling posts.  While some want to keep up with trends as they happen when it comes to social networking and promotion.  Programs like Hootsuite can save time by having the popular social networks accessible within one website.
  • Find a marketing assistant early in the game.  Not all virtual assistants are the same, some have paid experience in fields like healthcare, real estate and other reputable professions.  Networks like the Virtual Assistants League has a plethora of individuals who care about bringing quality work to their clients because their reputation depends on it.

What it comes down to is that starting over can be hard.  Many have done it and few have come back stronger than ever but it’s amazing how small changes, as well as timing, can make the difference.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Outdated Writing Opportunities Should Be Free

People don't pay for these for a reason!

Back in the summer of 2009, I noticed something about Borders inventory of music books.  Without thinking, I picked up coffee table books loaded with vivid color pics of just about every relevant recording artist from the 1950s to present – for less than $10 and weighing about as much as a domestic cat.

I couldn’t quite figure it out at first until I remembered my Library Assistant training years before.  Books that refer to the deceased in present tense must be sold or destroyed immediately.  I was still in shock over MJ’s passing and so badly wanted for him to be chilling on an island somewhere.  The drastically reduced (75% reduction from original list price) book was confirmation this was not going to happen.

So as I’m getting more into freelance writing, I realize that the death of content writing companies, paying guest blog posts and other mediums do not get the same homegoing.  Sometimes, the only way that people know a site is no longer in business is through a discussion forum.  Occasionally, there might be a first-person account about a writer getting stiffed.

However, I’d like to know why I am still paying to find out that Squidoo, Helium and Yahoo Voices are accepting content.  Even worse, is the addition of places like Content Authority that pays something like $0.002 per word and seldom accept submissions?  In other words, things you can find out for free.
Stephen Davies has some good information in his writing books but I got burned (again) last year when he mentioned through his LinkedIn group that his writing book had been updated.  It’s one thing to have limited uploads but to see Suite 101 as a prospect in 2015 is a bit disappointing.

So should this be a rule when selling books that relate to e-commerce?  Some say that things change so fast it’s impossible to keep up.  On the other hand, $5-7 for an e-book can mean a lot to someone on the financial rebound.