525,600 minutes

If you’ve ever heard the music from RENT you’ll know there’s 525,600 minutes in a year. Half a million minutes made up these last 12 months of 2010.

There’s something about the end of December that always gets me thinking about what’s changed and I really can’t blame it on the media since I unplugged my television and rarely listen to the radio anymore.

Today I had a marathon call with one of my clients as we prepare to launch our first program in 2011 (you can read about it here and you should because it’s awesome). Because Alexis (my client) is completely awesome and cares about each team member and their well being we discussed if my list (which is always long after a team call) was too much. I determined that it was not and how I actually appreciated this in contrast to my last job. Our conversation went a little something like this:

Alexis: What is different from last year?

Kelly: Last December my boss told me I was “too efficient” and they were cutting my hours and pay by 20%

Alexis: You HAVE to blog about this.

So here I am, sharing my story. The company really did me a favor, pushing me out of my comfort zone to make some drastic changes in 2010.

How I responded

At first I was mad. How was it that I did all the right actions and ended up with fewer hours than my lazy counterpart? Then I got reasonable.

Nothing good was going to come from my bitterness and I’d only hate work more, if it were possible. So I decided to act, continuing to add value to the company despite actively searching for a new position. Why? Because my work history would show that I was ready for more challenges even if my current company wouldn’t give them to me.

Keep in mind unemployment in CA is in the double digits, I was accustomed to living 5 minutes from work and I become a crabby troll if I have to commute in Sacramento traffic 5 days a week.

I took Earn 1K with Ramit Sethi. Check it out. They’re opening the course again in February and if you need to make some extra cash this is the way to go.  In the summer I began working with Ramit’s course Beyond 1K. One of the members I met was working with Alexis. I sent in my resume and quit my old desk job in August.

What my old employer should have done instead

Listen to your employees. I told my managers more than once that I was interested in learning more, improving systems and connecting to our region to grow the company. Instead I was asked to take aluminum cans in for recycling.

Now, I have nothing against recycling but I didn’t believe runs to the recycling center were going to improve my resume and would probably just make me bitter about paying on my student loans for a college degree I was using to (essentially) take out trash. No exaggeration, the company eventually found two clients with mental disabilities to do the task.

If you have an employee who is efficient, dedicated and exceeding expectations give them more work and pay them accordingly. During my 12 month tenure at this company they canceled the company 401k match, eliminated holiday and birthday celebrations, raised insurance costs (company doesn’t pay deductibles) and froze all wages not allowing for merit or cost of living raises.

In addition to a low hourly rate and no substantial job benefits, the company gave me no more work, none of the challenging projects I’d asked for and cut my hours and pay by 20%.

Despite a last minute attempt to “lure me back” by offering me a full schedule and double the workload for the same pay, I declined and put in my notice. If they had listened, responded to my reasonable request and found challenging, engaging work so I could deliver more value (and then paid me for bringing more value) I would probably still be with the company.

What’s next?

Personally, I’m in a good place. I enjoy working with my clients and teams, I can clearly see the value I bring and the clients do as well and I am no longer scrambling to pay my bills.

Last year in December I worked at ResCare, Hollywood Video, the Princeton Review and wrote for 2 newspapers.

This year I am a contracted freelance worker with 3 solid clients.

Last year I was nervous, anxious, bitter and cranky about my job prospects.

This year my outlook is positive, I have a good life/work balance and worry does not consume me.

Last year I took calculated financial risks to improve my life and this year I hope to grow and evolve in ways I cannot imagine now but hope to reflect on in December 2011.

Last Thoughts

Are you familiar with the scarcity mindset? It’s the belief that there will never be enough [fill in the blank]. For my former company it was money. When I did see my former manager this fall she proudly told me how they’re saving $175 a month by having the office staff do the cleaning! She bought them a vacuum and rags and now the HR manager and admins and accounting professionals are cleaning the office (instead of serving clients and growing the business) to save a few bucks.

If there was an underlying mindset I needed to conquer in order to sign up for Earn 1K and get on track to a better financial future, it was overcoming my scarcity mindset. How could I pay a few thousand dollars for something I wasn’t sure would work? It turns out that was the wrong question. I needed to ask myself: How can I wisely invest in my future and get the resources I need to make a change?

Of all the programs I’ve seen out there the two I wholeheartedly recommend are Earn 1K (if you’re building a business) and the Money Map (monetize the business to serve your life and work) because I have completed the course, talked with the creators and worked with other students. They are not just full of advice that would take me untold years to figure out on my own but they are build to serve you. If you have questions you can leave me a comment, I am always willing to share more!

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2 thoughts on “525,600 minutes

  1. really thinking about doing earn1k this year and need to decide by this fri. what business did you start after taking earn1k and what are your average $ results (you can generalize if you don’t want to give away your secrets)? what are some pros and cons of earn1k, and which package do you recommend? can someone without an idea really benefit from it, or someone with too many ideas? thank you.

  2. thanks so much for taking the time to respond directly! you were very helpful and open. i really value and appreciate that. thanks again and congrats on your earn1k success! i’m pretty much sold.

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