Do Something That Scares You: Work Edition

It should come as no surprise that after I got canned last year, or whatever euphemism they used for it, I believe it was "eliminated my position," I've been uh, a little scaredy cat about my professional skills. While I was enormously thankful to land my job so quickly in a field that I love 7500 times more than my previous one, being a consultant is quite different than other jobs. For instance, you (and by you, I mean me, but not actually because I've been so timid [ME TIMID! I KNOW!]) have to network a lot to "get work." Meaning, you have to make rounds to ask project managers to be included on projects and to basically think of you on projects. Since my practice is new to our office, people have traditionally used a subcontractor to do the work. Subcontractors that they like and have good relationships with and trust. And here I'm supposed to come in and say, please don't use them anymore, please use me. 

And honestly, it's daunting. People ask me on the fly what skills I bring to the table, and I'm flummoxed. Um.  I have good hair? It's really a shame; I can read my resume and be like WOW I am amazing! Then someone asks me what I can do and I use general terms and have a very very hard time describing it in a way that receives well. 

You know how I'm craaazy aggressive? I've taken it down a few notches because I've been scared. And that's not good. It doesn't matter that me minus a few notches is someone else's go-get-em; it matters that I'm afraid and it's getting in my way. 

I've talked to Pete about it and he's absolutely horrified; he said it is NOT the HL he knows and loves. I know it's not. So I have been working to change. 

Before Christmas I had a voicemail from someone in another office (which is highly competitive and hard to get work from) wanting to talk to me about a project. I started procrastinating and then I just took a deep breath, and called him. He wanted to interview me to see if I was available for a project. I immediately said I would come to his office that afternoon to discuss. We did. And I was able to go into the meeting and successfully present my skills and be professional. It worked. If all goes well, I'll be dedicating 30 hours of my work week to this project. A highly coveted project that is interesting and challenging. 

Item 2: earlier that week I sat in on a meeting that was pitching a big client for a extensive project that would need my help. I wasn't sure if I should go to the meeting, but when I got there, the head of our California offices (ahem) was there and insisted I stay. I presented my skill set and what I could bring to the project. It went exceptionally well and my boss' boss said I was the star of the meeting. I got a call afterwards from the head of the California offices saying "this is why we hired you!" 

So basically, one step in front of the other, I'm becoming a bit more confident in my skill set and learning how to explain what I do to people. 

Flash forward to today. I saw a Project Manager in the elevator and he mentioned that my name came up in regards to a potential project (we're always bidding on new projects) and he wondered if I was available. I've learned the correct answer for that is always yes, so of course I said yes. He said that Lady X in another office had asked about me. 

Instant dread. Lady X and I had met in August when my boss had suggested I do a meet and greet with some key program managers. She was a bit curt and definitely dismissive; she suggested I attend basic public meetings to get a feel for how they are run. I tried to politely tell her that I had run and set up and better than that, attended many a public meeting as a journalist, but she seemed to have her mind made up. 

I played it off with the project manager today and just said, oh great, I'll give her a call. Could you brief me on the project? And he did. And told me it sounded like she was fishing around to see if I was any good. She wasn't sure about using me, but wanted to talk with this guy about it. He told me to tell her we talked. 

So I had to call her. I literally worked up to it for an hour. 15 minutes before my bus was scheduled to arrive to take me home, I took a deep breath and dialed the number. I prayed I wouldn't get her. Then I prayed I would, because I didn't want to leave a nervous voice message. 

Voice mail. Dammit. I left a message saying that I had talked with him, and was interested in the project and would like to discuss further with her.

It doesn't matter the overall outcome (maybe she'll decide to use me, maybe not) it matters that I didn't let my fear get in the way today. 

A wee little braver every day.


  1. Heather,
    This is so great. Yay you. Seriously.

  2. Heather I too love the new turn this blog has taken. It is very inspirational and I am enjoying reading-- thanks for sharing

  3. Thank you so much ladies. I'm working behind the scenes on some bigger scary stuff, so being able to have a record of me successfully being brave is really important. :) Thanks for taking this ride with me!

  4. It's always interesting in project based work: the dichotomy between utilized and over utilized. You want full and perhaps over full capacity utilization, but then you run both into quality of life issues (working 70 hour standard weeks, being the always go to woman) and being so overstretched that it becomes impossible to create the high quality deliverables you are known for and capable of. I'm glad that you are settling in and being appreciated. I see this in my husnband's job, where he has spent the last 4 years at 125% utilization when the average at his rank is 40%. It can be exhausting: over the Weihnachtzeit holidays he was being asked (while on vacation) if he could "throw together" bid proposals (and he said "no", very politely, to doing it before the 2nd when it turned out to be spec work).


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