Recap: Forward Tilt Ep 36

This is part of a series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast, to an article, to a Youtube video, to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.

Today I listened to Praxis’ Forward Tilt Podcast Episode 36, Finding Gold in the Grunt Work. In this episode, Isaac Morehouse discusses the value of being eager and willing to do grunt work.

Notes

Isaac tells the story of conversation with a CEO who has an employee who wanted a raise but hates grunt work. The CEO doesn’t ask that employee to do grunt work because it’s clear he really doesn’t want to. Another employee higher up will do it. The CEO even has to do it sometimes!

You should want your opportunity cost to get higher so you’re most valuable activity isn’t usually getting coffee. Someone has to do things like coffee runs, let that be you. You’re never too good for grunt work.

If all you’re doing is grunt work, take ownership and prove you can do otherwise. You shouldn’t have to ask to do less grunt work, if you prove you are valuable you will be given more important work to do. And if you’re always fine with doing grunt work, that’s an added bonus.

You could be valuable but not everyone knows or sees what you do. With grunt work, it impacts more people and is highly visible.

Create value in other ways if you’re only doing grunt work. Be eager, volunteer to get things, clean up, etc. “Sometimes the work isn’t glamorous.” If someone is afraid to ask you do to the crappy things you’ve made yourself dispensable.

Response

I work at Walmart in a retail position. My two primary responsibilities are customer service and improving the cleanliness and appearance of the aisles in my department. The second, referred to as “zoning,” is necessary to improve customers’ experience in the store. It’s easier to shop when the aisles are clean, organized, and you can see every item on the shelf. Zoning is tedious and can be categorized as grunt work.

During my shift, I am assigned a department, either Crafts/Stationery or Toys. I’m almost always the only person in my department, excluding short periods of overlapping shifts. That leaves me solely responsible for the zone. Customer service trumps zoning, but the zone still has to get done. Additionally, we’re almost constantly short staffed in some area and I will get asked to help out either with the zone or customer service.

For example, yesterday no one responded to calls to the paint counter or sporting goods counter, so I did. I asked the customers at the sporting goods counter what they needed. I was unsure of what to do, so I had it announced again that customers were still waiting. At the paint counter, I mixed paint for two customers who’d been waiting.

When I’m in Crafts, it’s common for a manager to walk by and ask me to zone two aisles in Housewares, the rugs and curtains. I always say yes, pause what I’m doing, and fix those aisles before returning to my department.

Lately we’ve been short staffed in Crafts, which I consider “my department” because it’s where I hired in. There are four Crafts associates: one lady who is on leave, one lady who’s been calling off, the department manager, and me. As such, I’ve taken it upon myself to pick up the slack so we don’t fall further behind and so we can catch up to where we should be as soon as possible. The lady on leave was the only one who knew how to make fabric remnants, pieces less than a yard long, so she taught me before she left. I’ve taken most of the pieces under the fabric table and made remnants so customers can buy them. We have to pull top stock, the boxes that are on the very top shelf, down and put it out on the shelf for customers to buy. The top stock shelf is where we first put overstock, when possible, but it needs to go out once it’s no longer overstock. When I have time, I make it a point to work the top stock to make it easier for the department manager.

Praxis Pre-Program Review

Tonight I submitted my pre-program deliverables for Praxis. In honor of this, I thought I would discuss the deliverables and the work I did to complete them.

1. Professional Headshot, a photo featuring me wearing nice clothes as for an interview. I enlisted my dad to help me, and we went into our backyard to take the photo.

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You can’t even tell that it’s weeds behind me!

2. Email 101, a professional email address and a lesson on email etiquette.

3. Professional Testimony, two reviews of working with me were required, I had three. I reached out to my youth pastor, Tim, the owner and editor of the Millstadt News, Abbie, and the co-owner of Over the Invisible Wall, Justine.

4. LinkedIn Profile, update it to tell a story and engage visitors. I added more detail to my work experience, including a link to my Panera Job Review post. I looked at some other participants’ LinkedIns for examples to help me.

5. Personal Website, post about how I’m “breaking the mold” and a site to build my brand. I had built my website before I started any of the work, back in June. My breaking the mold post is my birthday reflection post describing how I worked toward my goals over the last year.

6. Pitch Deck, a slide show that tells my story and showcases my skills and projects and makes a value proposition to business partners. This was the hardest of the deliverables for me. I labored over the design, presentation, wording, and big picture.

Busy, Busy

I’ve gotten a lot done over the last couple days. I put in time and effort to make my pitch deck for Praxis something I can be proud of. I did research and more writing for a blog post I’ve been creating for Over the Invisible Wall. I also answered a question on Quora.

I felt stressed with the end of September looming having lost five days to wisdom teeth recovery. That after I gave myself a break when my family went on vacation. 15 days out of 60 not used productively and I honestly hated it. I could have done more, better, faster if I’d worked some on vacation. I knew I was getting my wisdom teeth out, but had no idea how horrible the aftermath would be.

Life is unpredictable, but what can be controlled has potential.

Back from Hiatus

Sorry for the unexpected and unannounced hiatus over the last week. I got my wisdom teeth out last Wednesday and spent my time in bed or laying on the couch until Sunday.

After that, frankly I forgot to take the time to come back and post here in the time I had available.

Since my recovery, I’ve worked on my pre-program Praxis deliverables and found on-demand merch printing options for Over the Invisible Wall. Deadlines for Praxis are looming, so I will be posting but it will likely be short for a few days while I finish up.

I Missed Yesterday

This is somewhat similar to this post, but it’s been a little more than a month since then.

I didn’t post yesterday. I hadn’t scheduled any content, and wasn’t sure yet what I was going to write. There was a Praxis call that I was looking forward to. I’d decided to make my post my notes from the call.

I recently updated my computer from Ubuntu 16 something to 18.4. I had some issues with Firefox. It wouldn’t load webpages on the first try, or at all. Zoom, the Praxis call application, kept launching and crashing. I joined the call for two minutes. The computer froze. Several times.

I tried restarting it. More than once. I was getting more frustrated.

After I’d tried three times to rejoin the Praxis call after I was kicked off, I quit. I was too frustrated to continue. I didn’t want to try to fix the problem, I was too mad. I took a break. I started reading Niche Down by Christopher Lochhead and Heather Clancy.

I didn’t post or write a poem. But I had a solid 35 days of blogging first and wrote poetry off and on.

Recap: Legends and Losers Ep 181

This is a new series of posts called Recap. In it I will share my notes on the content I consumed followed by my response. The content could vary from a podcast, to an article, to a Youtube video, to a book I read. When applicable, I will link to the content.

I recently listened to episode 181 of Christopher Lochhead’s podcast Legends and Losers, “Digital Body of Work.” Lochhead shares his thoughts on episode 170, where he interviewed Isaac Morehouse, the founder of Praxis. I plan on listening to that episode soon, and will share my thoughts on it when I do.

Notes:

Morehouse really pushes this idea that you should be your own credential; college is buying it, today we should be our own.

What happens when someone googles you? See what happens.

What happens after we get googled is critical. People look online to find out about you.

Being a podcast guest is a good way for authors and thought leaders to get their name out.

Do you blog, post on social networks, podcast, have you written a book? Even if it’s not a best seller, you put in the work to put something valuable out there.

Are you on Quora? What are you doing on other social networks? What are you sharing? Are you contributing content? Do you have a TED or TEDx talk? Are your speeches available online?

Also, what are people saying about you? Are you featured somewhere?

Response:

As someone who is going to go through Praxis, I definitely think that Isaac Morehouse is right about a lot of things concerning the new job market. I also think the Praxis approach is valuable, especially as an aspiring author.

Presence is important. The community and the response to my work is important. It’s easy to think about all the various online communities I could be part of and think, “If only I had more time, I’d work on my presence there.” And in some cases, time can be an issue. If I’m spending too much time on Facebook or Discord or Quora, in excess of doing other things that are more important at the time, then it’s my fault I don’t have enough time. On the flip side, if I don’t have enough time because I’m really actually working, that’s a bit different.

Between my cowriter Justine and I for Over the Invisible Wall, we are not ready to add Twitter to our social media. We already manage the Facebook page on our own and we both have a lot of other responsibilities other that our shared blog. But for just a few extra minutes, I could make a personal Twitter and share my personal blog posts and maybe reach some people who aren’t on Facebook.

A lot of my friends aren’t necessarily taking the same steps I am now to improve their online presence and such. At least in part because of that, I don’t have a lot of social proof. I want to have people respond to my blog, or to guest write on a different blog, etc. to do that better. For now, though, I have a lot I’m working on and I’m adjusting to the workload I set on myself and balancing it with what I do for money.

Panera Bread: Job Review

I started working at Panera Bread in May 2017 and will no longer work there after August 16th.

Based on my experience, Panera Bread is a good job for students who cannot work full time and are looking to make some money.

The training at corporate emphasizes that there is upward career movement possible within the cafe. Some of that is as simple as becoming a trainer. The line cook, bakery, or prep trainers make more per hour than the regular workers with minimal extra responsibility.

While at Panera, I learned more about teamwork and improved my ability to work with others.
I’m introverted and I was homeschooled. I never had group projects at school because I was the only student. I didn’t have experience working as a team before.
At Panera, it’s important to help coworkers, especially during a rush. If the person making salads is swamped and I don’t have sandwiches to make, I ask where they’re at and start making salads too, telling them what I’m making.
We communicate what we have done, how we’re helping, and shift back to our own job when necessary.

I learned to work under pressure.
During a rush, the time in which the order is supposed to be out remains the same. We have to work quickly and accurately to put the food together and consolidate it.
I make mistakes sometimes, and when that happens, I fix it. I’ve had times where a hot sandwich was finished, and I dropped it on the floor when I pulled it off the grill. Whatever else I was doing, I had to stop and remake that sandwich. It can be frustrating and stressful sometimes, but I ensure the food is correct and finished as quickly as possible.

Overall, Panera Bread was a good second job. It allowed me to learn skills that would help me in other jobs.