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JUN
03

End of an Era

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People have asked me what it feels like now that I'm a gemologist. And while it's hard to say that "the same" and "amazing" can both be valid answers, they sort of are. It's like you feel after your birthday...no older, but you'd like to think you are changed somehow nonetheless. And of course every day there is still the recollection of last week's exam, how hard it was, learning I passed, the satisfaction and amazement still fresh.

I can sum up post-gemology life in two succinct bullets:

1. I've resumed the writing of my third book. Feels good to be back in the saddle. I still have no idea really how this one will turn out, especially since it'll be my most personal book yet, so there are some jitters. But as always, I'm looking forward to how it comes together.

2. I've accepted a job. It's in the gemology field, so experiment Quit My Corporate America Job to Become a Gemologist and Switch Careers in the end has been a complete success.

Of course, going back to work can be summed up in two equally succinct bullets:

1. My time will no longer be my own. (ie. no more sleeping in, whiling away the afternoons reading in the park, doing really whatever I want all day long) And the end of such a satisfying sabbatical would make even the most stout-hearted cry like a baby.

2. I am leaving New York. Speaking of crying like a baby. I always assumed if a gemology job came my way it would be here. But it's actually on the other side of the country, which gives me only a few final days to get as much city time in as I possibly can.

So I'm going to stop writing and go outside.

JAN
16

Busted

Yesterday I received an anonymous note in my mailbox at work. The intrigue! It came in an interoffice envelope and was simply a print-out of this blog post from late December. If you go back and read it, it's true that I may or may not have slightly bashed corporate America and expressed frustration over the worship of all things extrovertish, but I never guessed that anyone from my office was actually paying attention. On the printed-out blog post in my mailbox was the following handwritten note: "Poor Tali. And we thought you actually liked working with us." And to the sender of this note, whoever you are, you must know that this struck me as so funny and clever that I had to chuckle to myself in sheer delight. So, thank you. Unless you are from HR and are trying to get me canned. In which case, is it too late to apologize for sounding like I hate working here? And while I'm at it, don't take it personally that I vehemently shamed our decision to send e-cards to customers last month in this post or read too much into my admission in this gem of a post that I wrote it while sitting at my desk. None of that is important. What's important is this: We are now pen pals.

DEC
31

Quiet

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I knew this would be a phenomenal book just by reading the description, and not just because I'm an introvert. But especially because I'm an introvert. An introvert who went through business school getting lackluster grades because I didn't speak up enough in class and because, despite knowing the answers, my mind went blank every time I was cold called or unexpectedly put on the spot. An introvert who now works in corporate America where I'm sick of the emphasis on group work and constant collaboration, where I see introverts routinely passed over (or let go) because they "don't fit" the leadership style (think extrovert) the company seeks, and where I frequently lie on the personality tests the company sends out for fear they wouldn't want to keep me if they knew how truly introverted I was.

Susan Cain makes the case that introverts get far less credit than they deserve, and it's not just her opinion. Au contraire. For the entire book is filled to the brim with study after study, example after example, of how the premium society places on being an uber-social go-getter (and the pressure introverts feel to fake it in order to make it) is ridiculously unwarranted. It's an opinion I've had for quite some time, as personally I've always found that my strengths as an introvert have lent themselves well to my line of work. I am, after all, in the business of building relationships. And aren't we all?

Rarely do I read a book that makes me gush, and I'll stop before I get carried away, but as far as I'm concerned, this is a must read. My only frustration is that in order for things to change in the corporate world, every CEO, hiring manager, team leader, and business school director would have to read this book. It seems an uphill battle, but this book is an excellent step in the right direction.

JUN
10

The Basketball Work Party

I recently switched departments at the office, and my new crew had just completed a project when I joined them. Based on selling a particular product line, the whole project was basketball themed, including weekly "MVPs" and "free throws" awarded to those individuals and teams who sold the most. I was immensely glad I hadn't actually been around to participate in the project when it was announced at the celebration/report-out (an afternoon and evening of games and food at a local park) that the teams would be shooting literal free-throws as a way to determine the ultimate project champions. Thank goodness I don't have to shoot is what I was thinking as we headed over to the basketball courts.

But one of the annoying things about Corporate America is this blasted emphasis on teamwork and team-building activities. I'm not saying we should be sequestered loners at work, but as an introverted person, I have it on good authority (so does Susan Cain) that you can get a lot more accomplished on your own than you can by participating in a mass brainstorming session. Yet, I digress. What this meant to my work posse that day on the court was that it was simply not OK that I was not on a team for this final shoot-out. How awful for Tali to be left out! Get Tali shooting the ball! Let Tali warm up!

I tried to gently explain to these people not only that I was perfectly fine not shooting and didn't feel left out at all, but also that me and basketball didn't have the greatest of relationships. "Have you read my book?" I asked the group, and those that had immediately began laughing at being reminded of my rather disastrous junior high try-outs. Let me emphasize that in this moment, about to shoot a slew of free-throws in front of tons of people, I had no amount of confidence that even one shot would be close enough to hit the rim. And the narration from one of my co-workers didn't help either, although it was in hindsight rather amusing. "Here she is, after a 17-year absence," the co-worker said quietly, sportscaster style, as I stepped up to the line. "For the first time since seventh grade. Tali Nay at the line." Or maybe I heard this all in my head.

Either way, I made a shot. Then I made another one. I managed to get our team tied with the team who was at that point in first place. "One more and your team takes the lead," the man keeping score said. My next shot went in, and everyone cheered. It's silly how glorious this moment was for me, although I did have to deal with several co-workers who wondered why I had initially protested when clearly my shooting abilities seemed intact. Of course, shooting was never my problem, so I could only repeat, "Have you read my book?" It should probably be required reading for anyone who knows me.

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