The Human Business: Business Intuition

business intuition
Does intuition have a place in business?

Forgive my extended silence.  We’ve moved, re-arranged our social schedules, and I’ve been taking a lot of courses, and a question today brought to mind the problem of business intuition.

Can you imagine a world where things like empathy and intuition were actually valued in a business environment?

Scenario: A project manager is sitting in a management review meeting, and she’s assessing whether or not her project has a reasonable chance at ultimate success.  There’s something about the scenario, though, that doesn’t sit well with her. Everything looks like it’s on the up-and-up, and the intended project result would be a good and beneficial thing, but something is wrong, and she’s not sure yet what that is.

Current atmosphere:  She keeps her goddamned mouth shut because speaking up without solid “proof”, especially citing that she “has a bad feeling about this”, would immediately discredit her as a business person and certainly as a reliable and authoritative project manager.

What-if atmosphere:  She is asked her thoughts on this phase of the project, and she feels comfortable admitting that she doesn’t feel comfortable about something.  She is willing to state that something is off, that she feels like maybe there’s a key piece of information missing, and she’d like to delay for 24 hours in order to ferret out the problem.  The response from the stakeholders in the room is that she can take 48 hours if she needs to: she’s been selected as the project manager because they know that she has a great sense of when things are going to go wrong and how to avoid those mistakes.  They honor and respect her intuition.

The problem, of course, is that the Very Logical And Staunchly Data-Driven Business World thinks of concepts like “intuition” and “emotions” and “empathy” as woo-woo feel-good buzz phrases that have no substance or solidity.  They are unreliable.  Ironically, the people who traditionally do listen to their intuition in a purely “I respect how I feel about this and will avoid the pitfall” or “and will investigate further to figure out what’s wrong” tend to have much higher rates of personal success than those who blindly follow forward with the step-by-step instructions that they will complete, come hell or high water.

(This is purely an observational statement and not specifically supported by clinical data as yet, but just you wait.)

To my credit, I’ve pretty much been able to call it early on for most of the businesses I’ve worked with, including knowing whether or not they were going to have to transform in order to grow.  Some are still doing well, some have been dead for a while but the corpse doesn’t know yet.  Some are going to get pushed out of the marketplace for not being responsive or or not growing fast enough in the right directions.

And while I was poking around the internet looking for an image to include in this blog (because we all know that the internet is full of 7-year-olds who love picture books), I found an article from about a year ago that strongly supports my supposition.  Lisa Marie Jenkins apparently wonders the same thing.

And then I got even more curious, so I did some googling – you know, like you do – and I found out that Entrepreneur Magazine has three different articles on the first page of results dealing with exactly this topic.  Huffington Post even has a page of multiple results with “business intuition” as a tag.  Cornerstone thinks it warrants discussion.  Study.Com includes a chapter on it it its business courses.  The Harvard Business Review even goes so far as to describe exactly the type of situation I started exploring above and talking about when and under what circumstances to listen to your intuition.

I think about things like this all the time, both in the context of business and professional life and in the larger context of the world as a whole.  For instance, if we really did live in a professional world where intuition was an acceptable response to anything type of decision, big or small, then by extension we would also have to honor and respect other emotions.  Really good managers – the ones who lead people more than just arrange their tasks – already know how to read and handle their employees feelings, and they do so by honoring and supporting them.  Sure, they keep their eye on the bottom line, but giving someone a week of paid leave to let them grieve a parent or taking them to lunch or dinner when it’s known that their paycheck was short and they have no food are things that compassionate managers do.  It doesn’t just make the employee feel better, it builds a better relationship between the employee and the business (assuming the business policy supports the manager’s actions) and makes for a better bottom line all the way around.

If you like this, then you’re going to want to keep an eye on Swift Mugsy.  I’m reposting this over there AND will be adding to it in the future.

Sorry, not sorry

corporate-ladderThis is me shuffling things around a little bit more so that I can make room for my crazy awesome creativity processes.

Just for the record, the Normality Factor Publishing projects are not cancelled, they’re just moved to their own page for a bit while I continue to blog my little heart out.  Also, I draw gude.

Blah blah update blah blah blah…

I realize that I’m probably jinxing myself, but I’m pretty much giving up on the corporate world altogether.  I’d like to think that it’s because I have some sort of brilliant superior enlightened thing going on – and there is a part of me that is giddy as hell that I’m not directly supporting any number of bloody awful businesses shilling the public out of gods-know-what kind of health money stability future etc – but the real reason is, I am both over-qualified and under-qualified for any position out there, hands down.

I suppose I could try to squeeze myself back into the box, but the fact is, even working at a company that I adored (on principle, not so much in practice), I still suffered the nearly daily irritation of having to be complicit in attitudes and practices that I could not really ethically stand by.  Marketing, for instance, should not be solely devoted to convincing people that they need things that they don’t need.

“You have a need?  Awesome, we can answer that!” — AWESOME.

“Your life is incomplete without our cheaply-made and mostly-useless crap because FEAR MONEY FEAR!!!!” — Shitty.

But I don’t naturally fit into that box.  What astounds me is that when I looked around in that environment, no one fits in the box.  Every single person working on my level (and below, and at least one tier above) was not a box-fitter.  And of the higher ups, only about thirty percent of them were box-fitters, everyone else was just doing their best for their own reasons.

Why one the gods’ green earth do we glorify an economic lifestyle that, by its very nature, forces people to act against their own best interest?

(This is a rhetorical question.  I already know about history industrialism capitalism social etc.)

A weird part of me wants to fit in, or at least wants to know that I could fake it pretty well if I needed to, but the wiser part of me knows that that’s not really a thing.  It’s a lie that I think we were all raised with (at least in the 70s and 80s, and probably a good portion of the 90s) to believe that we could walk in both worlds without compromising ourselves.

The real “tragedy” here is not that I have a hard time fitting into that world.  (We already knew that.)  The problem is that I can’t “pass”, and therefore I am rejected by that world.

I know, I know, cry me a river… except that I really, really like having money of my own.  I like being able to buy treats, pay my bills, contribute significantly to my household, get things for people…

There’s nothing for it, then.  It’s self-employment again, and I might as well stick with what I’m good at and do the art…

If you want to support me (and I know you totally do), you’ll keep an eye on that aforementioned comic (it updates on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays), and if you like what you see, you can kick me a chip through Patreon (and/or tell your friends about it).  If you’re more an old-school type, be patient and I’ll be offering the collections of comics later on in book form, with added content and expanded commentary.

I love you guys, I really do.  Help a sista out.

My Art Portfolio

Yeah, yeah… it’s a post, not a page, but that’s just how WordPress does it.  Galleries aren’t available as pages in this theme.

Anyway, here are the important things to know:

  • I have 25 years of art training and experience, including:
    • acrylic painting (on canvas and wood)
    • clay and poly sculpting (large scale and small)
    • pencil and charcoal sketching
    • extensive pen-and-ink (nibs and ink wells as well as pre-made pens)
    • wood carving and small-item builds
    • wire sculpture
    • paper maché
    • knitting (lace, cable, and garment design)
    • costuming (sewing, construction, makeup)
    • watercolors
    • colored pencils (not just Prismacolors, there are other brands)
    • probably lots of others I don’t even remember
  • I have a brilliant capacity for both emulating styles and coming up with my own vision.
  • All of my best illustrations and paintings have a story.
  • I collect new media methods like some people collect bottle caps.  (Actually, like I collect bottle caps, which is often.)
  • You’re going to love 10 Reasons You Want Me as a Tattoo Apprentice.

An Update on Muggings

Twin Hearts muggingRemember when I was talking about doing those hand-painted mugs?  And remember how I pulled the plug on that project because the internet is full of liars?

Well, I think I found the problem and fixed it.

Just to be clear, the original internet legend says that you’re supposed to be able to use oil-based Sharpie brand pens to create awesome designs on already-glazed porcelain.  The advice they give, though, is that “the cheaper the glaze, the better it sticks.”

Eff a bunch of that noise, in my opinion.  I like high quality mugs, I like solid cups that I can trust to not have obscene levels of lead or mercury or whatever the newest cost-cutting Chinese second-rate glaze is made of this year.  (Did you know there’s no industrial regulation in China?  That’s why it’s so cheap to get stuff made over there – any standards have to be enforced by the company that runs the factory.)

My personal favorite is BIA Cordon Bleu mugs.  I love the sizes, I love the shapes, and I love the glaze.  And I don’t love how even only hand-washing my hand-painted mugs, the designs started falling right off.  (Bloody stupid Sharpies…)  Oh, and the amazing rich-color designs I love to do?  Sharpies fade to bizarre and not-okay colors.  The amazing journey of the sea turtles through the blue-and-green ocean turned into the sludgy trek of the sea turtles through brown-and-sickly-ochre sewage.

Not good eats.

HOWEVER!

Y’all know how much I love painting on weird things I shouldn’t normally be painting on, so I went on a quest to find out out how the hell to make it work, and I think I solved the problem.

Testors enamel such as the kind you use to paint model cars is much more durable than oil-based pens.  But wait!  Isn’t that pretty NOT food-safe?  Why, you’re totally right – until you cure in it a low oven in the same way you would the Sharpie mugs, which is the same reason you cure the Sharpie mugs.  I repainted the Darling Beloved’s gryphon mug with the enamel pens, and the only place the enamel has come off was where the old Sharpie paint was still hanging on – and that’s after being put in the dishwasher several times!

And just to revisit the “low oven” method:  Let the painted mug sit for at least 24 hours after the last bit of painting is finished before curing it.  Place the mug on a cookie sheet in a COLD oven, turn the heat on to 350º F (175º C), leave it there for around 30 minutes, and then turn the oven off and LEAVE THE MUG IN THERE.  Do not open the door.  Let the heat come down nice and easy.  This is not about the mug being too hot to handle (though, DUH!), it’s about exposing the porcelain to such a massive temperature change that it violates the integrity of the material, which can cause cracks that will turn to breaks either immediately or over a slightly longer period of time.

For instance, have you ever gotten a really nice hand-painted mug from a friend of yours, used it for hot coffee, gone to pick up the mug, and then ended up with just the handle and part of the mug in your hand with the rest of the mug on the table and the hot coffee all over your papers and magazines and autographed copy of “Stardust” that happened to still be on the floor where it landed the night before after you fell asleep reading it?

Me, too.

So, to my crafty friends, that’s how to get around the embarrassing problem of making amazing-yet-temporary art-on-mugs.  Go pro or go home.  To my other friends, this means that my Etsy store will soon have an excellent selection of muggings available for purchase.  (Yes, I know it’s still a little rough around the edges, don’t judge me just yet, I’m working on it.)

 

Leaps of faith

leapoffaithI take them.

Sometimes they’re bigger than others, of course.  Almost a year ago (almost exactly a year ago, actually), I took a huge chance and instead of slinking off into the wilds of gods-knows-where in the midst of a break-up, I popped The Question to the man of my dreams.  It was the ultimate make-or-break moment because either he was going to choose to stay indefinitely or we were never going to see each other again.  Really, when you pop the question, those are the only two options because if you say “no” or even “not yet”, it gets awkward and uncomfortable.

Likewise, when you start a path – or even start investigating a path – it can slip the leash and start running rampant.  Sometimes it’s something as simple as looking for a job – or even just looking at other jobs – and then suddenly you’re neck-deep in realizing how unhappy you are at that moment in your current position, and then you have to analyze why you’re not happy so that you don’t end up there again… and that’s kinda where I am.

So, we moved into this amazing house, and we knew it was going to be a little more expensive, but it was will within out paper budget.  There are little pleasures I like to indulge in, though, like pedicures.  And food.  And that’s when I really started looking at my bank account and feeling the pinch not just of being underpaid but of being undervalued.

That’s the rough spot right there:  my last job review was glowing and my boss is happy, and he offered to scrape up a whole thirty-cent raise.  He also gave me a pretend-promotion.  Woo.  It might seem a little ungrateful, but I actually felt offended and slighted rather than rewarded.  When you’re not even making a livable wage in the first place and you’re outperforming the people in the tier above you, thirty cents and more responsibility without a real title is not a kudo.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m grateful that I have a job at all, and I’m grateful that I’ve been able to stick with it as long as I have, but being grateful for a thing is not the same as staying unnecessarily loyal to a thing.

And that’s the lesson I learned from my first marriage.

So, I started peeking at other jobs.  I started putting out some resumes.  I seriously started to consider putting pants on.  Seriously.  And lo-and-behold, I’ve had three preliminary interviews in the past week for two jobs, and both jobs look promising.  One pays much better than the other and might require slightly snazzier dressing, but I’d be happy with either, in fairness.  I’m debating continuing to put out resumes until the end is decided, because a bird in the hand and all that, but could I top the offers I have?  Probably not, but I could find similar things.

Here’s what’s remarkable about this, though.  I realized that as I was looking for new jobs, I was doing so with a solid sense of what my work was worth.  When I worked for the video game company, I was woefully underpaid for what they wanted/needed me to do, so I found I had a very hard time (especially at the end) giving a damn about the company at all.  Add to that the stress of having no guidance but all the blame, and there was no amount of money that could make that okay.  Now, I’m looking at a position that is in the same discipline but a different market, and I feel I can confidently ask for something other than the lowest end of the spectrum.  Even if I did take that low end, my take-home would be far better than where I am now.

All the kudos in the world don’t make up for being undervalued.  I refuse to continue feeling like Cinderella, where I can only move up in a career or do the things that I want to do until I’ve taken care of everyone and everything else – often only to have my gown torn to shreds rather than receive the pay-off.  I will have my pay-off now, thankyouverymuch, because I have more than paid my dues several times over.

I don’t say that I’ll never work for peanuts again – sometimes when that’s all you can get, that’s what you take – but I can say that I’ll never pass by an opportunity because I think I’m not good enough, despite a proven track record.

I teach people all the time how to feed themselves, cook for themselves, in order to show and develop their self-love, and this is me feeding myself now.

It’s thrilling and exhilarating, and I really, really hope there’s a pile of straw at the end of this fall because I’m not sure how much longer my awesome and sweet customers can make up for the gnawing reality of being grossly taken for granted.