Job Shaming

Today we’re talking about fundraising specifics and job shaming.

On the Oneicity blog, I’m talking about improving your fundraising with specifics. Specifically, about how using clearly defined “asks” can improve your fundraising results. To make my case, I pull back the curtain a bit and tell you a little about a test we ran for a client. If you do fundraising you’ll want to take a peek. Go here to read about specifics.

Now think with me about work.

Have you ever been working at a job and discovered someone looked down on you just because of the work you were doing? 

I have. 

The first time I felt job-shame, I was 16. I remember the moment like it was yesterday.

As a teenager, my summer job was working for my Dad’s air conditioning repair company. I didn’t have a title but some of his guys did call me the “tool monkey.” They sent me for tools. I also crawled into tight spaces. I did dirty work. I was the lowest on the crew in spite of my boss’ son status (well, maybe because of that status).

Naturally, it was a girl and a guy from High School that ran into me.  I was grimy, sweaty and pretty much wrung out from working all day in the Texas heat. I didn’t know which of them lived at the house we were working at.

They were clearly headed to the pool or the lake. . .somewhere wet, cool and exotic. And fun. I was headed to the gutter lugging a 5-gallon bucket of soapy sludge from the condenser I was cleaning. I nearly physically bumped into them because his convertible was parked at the curb, and I was concentrating on not spilling the gunk in my bucket on their pretty grass.

We sorta knew each other. They were a year or so older. At school we would have said more, I guess.

We met there at the curb. Me struggling with my gunky bucket. He and she were carrying beach towels and glamour.

They gave me a stiff nod and a “Hey.”

And they looked embarrassed.

I was. . . a mess.

Their awkwardness caught me by surprise. I couldn’t figure out why they were acting so weirdly. But then it landed. I still remember the heat flash on my face and her laughter as they drove off.

OK, maybe they weren’t laughing at me. But I still remember it.

The memory of that moment has been in my head because of the swirl of stories earlier this month about Geoffrey Owens, the former Cosby Show actor. He was spotted working at Trader Joe’s. He was bagging groceries and that went viral on social media.

The Internet trolls did some shaming. There were the usual stupid comments from the Mean and Thoughtless. Don’t Google it, you really don’t want to know. But “Job Shaming” became an offical thing.

Owens was interviewed on Good Morning America (among other places). He said he started working at Trader Joe’s about a year ago to make ends meet. He had been acting and directing (and teaching) but after 30 years it got to the point “it just didn’t add up enough.”

I loved what Owen said about his job and the online swirl: 

“There is no job that is better than another job. It might pay better, it might have better benefits, it might look better on a resume and on paper. But actually, it’s not better. Every job is worthwhile and valuable.”

A beautiful and brave sentiment. And I didn’t think much more about it.

Then this week I saw a quote that brought this all up again.

“You can’t love your life if you work at a job you hate.”

The discussion around that quote centered on changing jobs and ditching any job you hate. Most of it was centered in “getting out of there.”

What I didn’t see was any discussion about changing how you thought about a job. And maybe that’s what’s missing.

Certainly there are miserable jobs. And some situations can be soul-sucking and demeaning. Yet what I find magical, is that it is the way you and I think about our work that makes the difference.

What goes on in our head changes everything. 

It’s what we tell ourselves about our work that can make the difference. If you can’t convince yourself that the job is worth it, then get out. Many “bad” jobs are that way because of what we’re telling ourselves. And we can change that internal conversation. At least that’s what I tell myself. But, I’m the guy with the gunk in a bucket.

I’m curious what you think.

Here’s some other items that caught my eye:

Jeff Bezos talked about the secret of Amazon’s success is focusing on customers not competitors. I found it inspiring. See what you think.

And then The New Yorker has a scathing and thoughtful piece on why you ought to delete all your social media accounts now. It’s here.

Let me know how you’re doing. I enjoy it when you hit “Reply” even when you disagree.

Grateful for you.


Steve Thomas
CEO, Oneicity
Partner, Hoots & Thomas Wizard of Ads, Ltd.

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