Celebrity fame and productivity

I’ve got one of these. But if I were also a famous celebrity, this is what would happen. You’d hear about me a lot on the news and each time I would’ve got a new book out. Or my shocking scurrilous sordid squid sex secret has been revealed. (Delete depending on what celebrity news outlet you read.)

My personal life aside – we’re all adults here, I don’t judge you, you don’t judge me or at least don’t judge me until you’ve tried it – I think that there is something interesting and something that gets forgotten. These people you see relaxing on the BBC Breakfast couch talking about yet another book, yet another success, they have two things going on that they don’t really talk about and that they are not really asked about either.

First, they need that publicity. I don’t mean that they crave it within their souls or that their lifeforce depends upon adulation, I mean that without you hearing about their book, the book doesn’t sell. They want to eat, sure, but they probably also want to keep on writing books and they need us, they need some floodlights put on their faces.

But the second thing is ridiculous. We listen to journalists asking people about their new book and yet we don’t really, consciously think: “They’ve written a new book”. Obviously they have but we tend to think more that it’s “They’ve got a new book out”. That’s subtly different and I think it misleads us.

To get on the telly talking about a book, you have to write the book.

We see celebrities relaxing, talking happily at events and in interviews, but they solely got there because they did the work. It’s back-breaking work but they have broken their backs and done it.

And tomorrow they’re off doing it again.

I’m not fussed about fame and celebrity, I am very fussed about getting enough sales that I can keep writing books. Do the work. Be productive. And you will produce things.

I have no idea whether that will get you on the telly but I know that you don’t get on if you haven’t done the work.

Stop making these mistakes at work

I work for myself so day to day I don’t have the regular office shenanigans but I’ve been there and I recognise this advice from Fast Company:

You show up to the office on time, you’ve never missed a project deadline, and you always refill the coffee pot when you’re done.

What could you possibly be doing wrong?

You’re Probably Making These Five Mistakes at Work – Cheryl Lock, Fast Company (8 July 2014)

The mistakes include not asking for feedback except at your annual review – oh, my lights, how I loathed annual reviews. Wow. Flashback. My very first annual review at a company ended with me fighting over every tick box on the form. I couldn’t see why I was being marked down for things I knew I’d done better and it turned out to be an early form of the stack ranking that truly idiotic firms used. (Microsoft used it, then abandoned it. Staff have to be graded as something like above expectations, on expectations, below expectations and it has no connection to how they actually do. Get a team of three dedicated, passionate geniuses and one of them is going to be in trouble because of that system.

With me back then, my boss got progressively more annoyed that I was arguing and how the session was taking hours longer than he expected. I think now and I thought then: tough shit. Eventually he told me that he couldn’t promote everyone, so I wasn’t getting a promotion.

It looked then as though he’d picked me because I wasn’t the sort to complain. But of course I fought and while it took me a long time to get out of that firm, I stopped working that day. He lost a worker who had been exceeding expectations and gained one who did 9-5 for the first time in his career.

So while I’m surprised at the level of passion this memory has brought back – I’m struggling to remember his name, that’s going to bug me – I suppose I’m really saying that bosses can be arses too. And that what goes on in an office is magnified. I’ve forgotten the man but I’ve not forgotten the review and even on the strange contracts I had with the BBC I would have an annual appraisal and I’d go in ready to defend myself.

I want you know now that I never got a review again that wasn’t superb. But the bad one stays. It’s like public speaking; I died at one event and cannot forget it.

But where were we? Fast Company’s list of mistakes you may be making at work – and fortunately how to deal with them all. It’s a good read, I hope it doesn’t bring back bad memories for you too.