Here let me read it to you. Best to listen straight off Spotify though, the browser version is buggy.
Fetch my lunch, monkey boy
There must come a time when Brenda from HR is not the boss of you, and that’s one of many reasons to start your own business.
The small humiliations of employee life feel normal when you’re starting out. At 22, as an event technician, I worked regular eighteen-hour days on tense, zero-leeway deadlines.
It was a heavy responsibility at that age. A single wrong button-push from me could destroy a bank or car company’s six-figure event investment in an instant, with their CEO in the room to ensure heads would roll.
I had to manage gangs of clients far older than me, barking conflicting orders.
It was vicious yet great and I loved most it. It gave me a bunch of lifelong skills. I was proud of my work, and that’s really important for most people.
On the days where there were no shows, my boss at the time wanted max value from my modest paycheck. So she made me do the rounds of our office of eight people, getting their lunch orders, then run round the local shops to satisfy everyone’s whims. I had make sure I got everyone’s correct change for their chicken salad roll no onion or beetroot and a large iced coffee.
It made me feel like a houseboy. I still look back and burn with indignation. Even writing about those fucking lunch orders now, I can feel my blood pressure rise. That, too, has been a strong influence on how we deal with our staff.
These are the small humiliations of employment. We all have them, and when you’re climbing the ladder, you just deal with it.
But if you don’t learn from them, and act to take some control over your life, they just keep coming. After a few decades of career, they’re much harder to brush off without questioning your entire existence.
That time rolls around much sooner than you think.
Around that same time I was fetching lunch orders, you would always be approached by people with clipboards on the corner of Pitt and Park Sts, Sydney, offering to do “a free personality test”.
Those tests were bait to get you interested, aiming to get you inside the Scientology headquarters nearby. From there, it was a short step to an alleged life of forced labour, harassment and sexual abuse on board Freewinds, their ship commanded by Scientology honcho David Miscavige.
I don’t trust anyone who believes in personality tests.
Corporate astrology still popular
Last week I spoke to a friend who is a smart, accomplished boss in the NGO sector. She’s in the final stages of interviews for a CEO gig. She said now she “just had to get through the psychometric testing”.
There’s a lot to unpack in there. The casual invasion of her private thoughts. The pseudo-science on human lab rats. An entire career swinging on a personality quiz with a strong whiff of astrology.
And if you get the gig, you have to manage a team assembled through the same filter. So there won’t much thought or behaviour diversity. Everyone obediently plodding in the same direction, nobody questioning the mission.
All aboard the Scientology ship, guys.
I so grateful I will never have to go through that bullshit. No adult with a proven track record should.
(Plus if I was tested it would dredge up stuff so weird I would have to go and live alone in the forest. One of many reasons we will never have an HR department.)
Take some control over your life
There are many reasons to set up your own business. The money can be nice, and the satisfaction of building something. But for me, the main one is so that you don’t have to respond to anyone from HR. Or the CFO at head office in Atlanta.
Orders from people who have no real idea of what your business does on a day-to-day level. Who do not understand your job or product, but have some strong opinions on how you should do it. Based on what they reckon, and the perceived needs of shareholders whose welfare you care less and less about.
The more experienced you get, the more you resent their input and orders. It gets worse when those orders start to come from someone younger, but with greater career ladder skills.
Your home life will suffer as your partner tells you, “Who do they think they are? You shouldn’t have to put up with that, not with your knowledge and skills.”
By the time it gets to that – and it will – it’s too late.
The small humiliations become big humiliations. And because they’re at the other end of your career path, you can’t brush them off because they’re just going to increase.
It doesn’t happen to everyone with a job. I know employed people who brush off these annoyances with Karl Lagerfeld panache, but you have to be very good at what you do. Look around at work and see how people twenty years older than you in the same gig get treated. Do they look happy?
Do this quick personality test
Here’s a personality test. If your boss asked you to do psychometric testing, would you be comfortable saying:
“No. This has nothing to do with my performance at work and I don’t want to do it.”
If you can’t say that, start planning how to get out now.
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Why not buy this nice book?
Want a step-by-step guide to how to set up a business that you don’t even have to work in day-to-day? Here it is: Undisruptable: Timeless Business Truths For Thriving In A World Of Nonstop Change out on Penguin Random House.
Every week since it came out, it’s the #1 Review-Rated biz book on all of Booktopia. On paper, electronic or audio book with me reading it. Get it here:
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For those of you in geo-blocked countries, here’s your non-Spotify audio: