Shit Just Got Real

I love that line and Hot Fuzz (quoting Bad Boys 2) so I wanted to throw it in there.

I’ve been kinda quiet online lately and most of the people I know in Real Life are probably laughing because I’m anything but (*waves* Hi Mom! Just kidding, Mom doesn’t read my blog). But things are changing, quite drastically and thus this blog is changing as well.

As an unreformed reader, I go through a lot of books and even more blogs. I adore blogs. They’re instaneous, relevant, personal, and there’s something uniquely awesome about writing what’s on your mind TODAY rather than what you wanted to communicate two years ago before a team of editors got a hold of your words and mangled them. Lately I’ve realized that the blogs I enjoy are written by people I enjoy hearing from like Noah Kagan, Charlie Hoehn, Ramit SethiPam Slim, Alexis Martin  Neely, not to mention dozens of my less popular but just as talented friends. It’s not the words on the screen, or the amazing photography or even the weird contests that draw me to these blogs, it’s the person putting those words to press – how they each live very different lives.

My friend Kari, who I had the pleasure of knowing in real life before I knew her as a blogger, wrote this amazing post on transparency. For years I’ve heard to “protect” yourself online. Hide those drunken pictures and posts. Only put up the flowery, happy things that don’t scare away employers. And I’ve done most of that. I have a twitter feed I don’t publish, mostly to inject some humor in my day from the likes of @shitmydadsays, @fakeAPstyle, @rainnwilson and @ihatewheat. I’ve been on facebook for more years than I care to admit but my profile is set to private and I occasionally look through my friend list and ask myself “who the hell is that person?” then delete them. And on this blog I’ve never given my name aside from the title and routinely disapprove my mom’s comments when she puts her last name on them.

Over the past few weeks I’ve wondered why I need to protect myself online. I mean, any idiot with a zillow account could probably find my town or house. Seriously, I called my best friend and had her boyfriend figure out how many square feet I have when I forgot. Is anyone really going to “come get me”? They have to face my kickass alarm system and looks-friendly-but-would-tear-your-skin-off protector Jackson. Seriously. He nearly went through a car window once when my brother got too close.

Am I worried that some anonymous employer will discover that I don’t really like people, my grandma’s death was devestating to me, I love travel, and I can’t tell hay from straw? Then what? Why am I giving all these unknown people so much power?

I even stopped responding to many comments on the blog because (due to freelancing) my full name is on my email now. What am I worried about? To be fair I made the switch after emailing lots of people for a community event and having someone ask me to confirm where I went to school. Thanks to Google and debate records it’s not hard to find out and this person was giving creepy vibes. But nothing came of it.

What about the people I do know? I seriously doubt anyone from high school is EVER going to Google me but what would they find? Why would I care what they find or assume about my life? I happen to love my life which is great because I’m the one living it. I didn’t care in high school, I broke ties with 90% of those people during college and I’ve not reconnected with many in the years since. Why do I care NOW?

Sure, it’s fun to be anonymous online. I’m a fairly snarky person and even co-wrote a column called Snark Bites for Barnes & Noble (now removed thanks to the less than stellar editing team’s ever changing whims). We were the snarks! So when I’m online and there’s less of a shield because I can’t SEE your expression, I tend to be snarkier. Is that good? Do I need to toe the line between “you’re an idiot” and “I think you’re wrong”? Or do I need to be me without being cruel and be prepared to back that up? Shouldn’t my friends and enemies be able to call me out when I’ve gone too far so I mature as a person instead of hiding behind a screen name?

I did collegiate debate from 2002-2005 and was ranked in the top 5 teams for novice and jv 3 years running, I’m not the kind of girl who runs from a fight. I don’t even mind saying “that’s my opinion, I’m not goint to spend hours justifying it to you. And good night sir.” Not that I presume to get pulled into a lot of internet brawls because there are MUCH better uses of my time but do I ask to be anonymous because I’m scared? What, exactly, am I scared of?

I’m under no illusions that I will someday, today, anyday become famous. It’s rather laughable how unfamous I would like to be. But I’m not willing to be so anonymous either – not because this is Cheers and everyone needs to know my name but because I stand behind my words. My struggles. My challenges. My projects. And I don’t think I can do that anonymously.

So this is me:


Me with Mom and Grandpa last weekend when we brought him pictures of his ride in Mom’s 1931 Model A and I got sunburned in the rumble seat.

And since I’ve been so quiet lately, here’s what I’ve been up to.

I have not ever really LOVED my current day job, it paid the bills… yeah, it paid the bills. So in January when they decided to reduce my hours because I was “too efficient” with my time I knew something had to change. Yes, California has 12% unemployment. Yes, it’s hard to find work. No, that wasn’t going to stop me.

So I took Ramit Sethi’s online course Earn 1K.

Why didn’t I mention that? Was I afraid of inviting criticism? Who knows. I signed up. I went to Scotland in the middle of the course. I learned a shitload of information that business school never taught me. Or I wasn’t listening. Whatever. Immediately after the class Ramit announced that if you wanted on-going support he was offering another class, Beyond 1K. I joined. I learned so much more than I could ever recap. I loved my group, still do.

In July I began working with Ramit as an intern, learning the ropes of the program, of Basecamp, of managing unruly groups of people 🙂 it’s a lot like herding cats, let me tell you. I kept learning.

Most of all I kept my goal in mind. It’s what Lea calls my ‘hammock house’ and I envision as a getaway for everyday. But more than a physical local, it’s a mindset. To be challenged every. single. day. to be better, do better, learn faster, communicate stronger.

It’s about meeting people with amazing talents for art, designing websites, reaching people who support your cause. And not just being in awe of the talents of these friends but learning from them, helping them, watching each other become better entrepreneurs, better business people, enjoying what we all do best.

Working with Ramit is awesome. The staff that he hires is so incredible that there are no descriptions kind enough. Ramit himself? Strange guy. But intelligent and entertaining and never, never boring.

So that was my “quiet” life a few weeks ago. Working a day job I didn’t enjoy, reading and learning and networking with people who are doing things differently, working with Ramit and still wondering what the next six months would bring. And then I met Andrew. Andrew rocks. He is a very, very tall rockstar.

And after chatting with Andrew through Earn 1K and Beyond 1K we met up in San Francisco. Soon after Andrew quit his full time job to work with Alexis Martin Neely. Two weeks ago I began working with Alexis Martin Neely.

If I had any photoshop or video skills whatsoever this is where the clouds would part, the music would swell and unicorns and rainbows would appear on your screen.

[use your imagination]

Working with Alexis and her team is like business on crack. Which is not to say they’re on drug drugs, just that they see so very clearly the vision of the business and pursue it relentlessly. The actions are informed but not beaten to death in committee meetings. The options are considered and the best one executed within hours, not months.

And it’s challenging. It’s a challenging business that I have been pursing my entire adult life.

Today I acknowledged a new challenge and I handed in my two week notice at the full time job to work full time on projects like Ramit’s Beyond 1K program and Alexis’ Lift Foundation.

My hands were sweaty, my stomach tied in knots, I could detect a slight tremble in my hands. But I did it. Sent the email, put copies of the notice in my boss’ box and handed another copy to HR.

Then I felt great.

I spoke to the HR representative briefly and he asked if I was just chasing more responsibility. Honestly, I answered, no. Because this past Monday when I spoke to my boss about reducing my work hours she offered me more responsibility. The chance to handle a huge project, increase my hours and train in a new program. And I said no thank you.

Confused, the HR representative asked what I did want out of a job, out of life. It wasn’t unusual, we’d spoken about this before. And this time I knew my answer.

“When I’m working on a project, creating or managing or building something, and I get that pit of fear that I’m unprepared, over my head, afraid of failure, worried how this will turn out – THAT is what I want in a job. I don’t crave the fear, it’s rather unpleasant, but I’m no longer running away from it. Putting myself in those places to be afraid, to grow and learn and then be afraid again is my goal. Because then I’m growing and learning. And,” I reminded him, “I’m giving so much more value to the client who engages my services than if I were to process the same paperwork, explain the same policies and check off the same checkboxes until I retire or die of boredom.”

The HR guy laughed and said “oh I know what you mean!” and acknowledged he would probably never make the leap. I smiled, packed up my things and headed home where I have a few more hours of work to do, dogs to walk and household chores to conquer. I’m not so naive to think all will be hugs and puppies for eternity but I do know that I look forward to work – not just a paycheck – for the first time in a long time.

~Kelly Azevedo
August 26, 2010

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7 thoughts on “Shit Just Got Real

  1. Congratulations! I just walked away from my job of 10 years. (My reasons for resigning were very different than yours.) It was terrifying and painful to do, but my life is so much better for it already.

  2. Very inspiring post. I say that as I sit at my desk in a very boring, unfulfilling-yet very comfortable-job. I like the title, too :).

  3. BRAVO! I enjoy your posts and this one made me want to comment just to offer encouragement from an anonymous reader. I admire what you are doing; it’s not the path for me but I wish you abundant success which I’m sure you will achieve.

  4. I am so very happy for you. I sat at my desk smiling as I read your post feeling the excitement, fear, happiness, freedom and so much more that you were talking about. A person spends so much of their time trying to make sure they can support themselves and if at all possible, that should be time you enjoy!!! Celebrate YOU. You deserve it!

  5. Congratulations!! That is absolutely fabulous that you’re going after something real in life, being able to do something day-to-day that you really feel like you’re making a difference by doing! And Alexis Martin Neely as in the Family Lawyer?! Her and her team seem like a great group of people, very driven and energetic.

    Oh, and nice pic, it looks like you were really enjoying being together! Good family moments are fabulous as well!

  6. In regards to the first half of your post, I’ve long had the theory that I could live my life in fear or I could just live my life. I used to walk across campus by myself, after dark- not because I thought nothing could happen to me (though nothing ever did), but because I had places to be and no time to let fear dictate my actions.
    I have the same theory when it comes to an online identity. My live journal posts are almost all public; my fb is profile is public – the only pics I restrict are those of other people.
    I’m not stupid about it, I don’t publish account numbers or anything, but I am who I am, and I won’t let fear- of not getting a job, identity theft, etc -run my life. If one of those things happen, I’ll deal with it, but it would be pretty hard to fake being me, and if you don’t like my online presence, you certainly won’t like my RL presence, so there we go.
    Anyway, congrats on facing so many of your fears, on doing what is “uncomfortable”, and thriving in the process.
    -Erin “Shanendoah” Baker

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