Thursday, November 10, 2011

Squeaky Wheels, People. Squeaky Wheels!

That is clearly how you get things done in life: being a squeaky wheel. Being a squeaky wheel does NOT mean being insulting people or calling them names. It means not allowing people to walk on you if you're being mistreated or not getting something you paid for. It means asserting yourself calmly & trying to explain things in a way that people will want to help you.

Imagine my shock when I got a call today from the rep I'd spoken to at Michael Ginarais' office. I was skeptical that they were going to do much; after all, I've seen many a government worker & political office worker brush off me as well as others I helped. I do remember dealing with the would-be lobbyist & getting political doublespeak. I know platitudes when I see them, and I've certainly seen my fair share of them. I also have a very cynical view of government & politics to begin with. So I felt like I was being fed a platitude & they weren't really going to take action. Some people hand out platitudes like candy & con others into thinking they are sincere when they really aren't. I'm not sure if the lawyer thing has anything to do with it or maybe that I'm just a loudmouth who'll remind you that you can't treat me like some smelly fart. Ignoring me doesn't make me go away. That will just make me madder.

The rep I spoke to was helpful, gave me useful information & a direct method of contact in case I had future trouble. We also had our 4th Verizon tech arrive & find a problem no one else had. I'm hoping this will be the end of our little rain problem but I guess I won't know this until it rains. Thus far, I haven't lost my service again so that's good. I also had a very busy day yesterday. I attended a financial conference that a Twitter follower was conducting & invited me to. I wasn't sure I qualified as an investor but as I do have a business that should eventually get financing & an interest in doing more investing (because maybe you are one if you have a CD with a bank?), I figured since I was invited I may as well go since I could learn something new that might be practical for my business or for personal investing.

One significant observation: people at this event were much friendlier to me as a stranger than attorneys would be. People actually SPOKE to me & I networked. At lawyers events that aren't "networking events," you're lucky to get a "hello" from an attorney that doesn't know you. I went to a Vault Career Fair a few years back & there was a lunch with it.

This event also had a lunch where you sat with people at a table. The difference is people at this event actually spoke to me and we learned about what each other's work & involvement in the financial industry. I'm also glad to know that there are firms that advise corporations on making sure they are complying with proper corporate governance (such as making sure they have the proper number of independent directors on their boards) & that corporations use them.

I also didn't feel a vibe of snobbery & elitism like most people would expect. That vibe is something I pick up on quickly since I've experienced it so much & I know what I'm looking for.

At lunch, one person said my job was more interesting that hers but I pointed out that the downside is I don't get the financial security since my company's not financed. This is very true: if you work in entertainment, you're not going to get rich unless you're extremely passionate, motivated & willing to work for yourself. You have to seek out opportunities & work much harder than someone with a steady income and company. You'd expect people to immediately back away from me after that but it didn't happen.

The speakers also struck me as being human beings first & foremost i.e. approachable. Not something you'd expect or see much of. I also wasn't in dressy attire while most of the people attending were. I generally won't do that since I don't have to; I'm not here to put on airs or impress folks in that way. We're not in court & if there's no dress code, why shouldn't I dress for basic comfort?

Contrast this with me going to lawyer events that aren't formal networking events, especially if no one I know from a bar committee is there: you can feel the elitism & self-importance in the room. Only more recently have I felt truly comfortable at the bar associations I currently belong to. I still feel distant from folk there sometimes but that could because I'm doing something so different, even compared to other entertainment lawyers. I have much more confidence about it after higher ups in these places have told me to just be myself & meeting people who make me feel less like an outcast or an oddball. Even so, if I'm at an event where someone I know isn't there no one bothers to talk to me so I feel like "Why am I here?"

Bar associations could really take a lesson from sororities when it comes to integrating new members (mine, at least since I can't speak for others). They should view it as entertaining guests in your home & trying to make those guests feel comfortable. In sorority recruitment, you were not allowed to leave potential new members alone for the entire time they were attending your premises; the members had to talk to all of them & be gracious, even if you felt that girl had no business trying to pledge your house (ideally, you had multiple sisters talking to each girl so you could get a gauge of the girl's fit for your chapter). There was a basic standard of politeness expected that I imagine is still the norm today. I think making that effort would really help since not everyone can, in a psychological sense, go approach a group of strangers.

I do have to compliment one of my colleagues who is the president of one of these bar associations (NYCLA) since he does attend events & makes himself accessible to everyone, not just the seasoned members or the most high profile lawyers. The best things about the Vault Career Fair: the swag & networking with one of the lawyers representing a firm seeking applicants. Apparently, he'd been trying to pick me up while I was trying to network.

The other observation from this financial conference: I'm not as ignorant on matters of finance as I thought I was. I had some knowledge of what was being said & I could understand some of it. Taking Business Organizations in law school paid off!

Oh, and they also had some nice swag.

To finish out the day, I decided to go to my first community board meeting. Remember this whole Verizon debacle & how I said it seems I'm going to have to get involved in political matters reluctantly? I did.

One thought, though: is it just me or are forums where the public or others can advocate for their rights deliberately held in locations that are public transit nightmares? My husband's union meetings, for instance, are held in a location where it's a pain in the ass to get there unless you've got a car. I wonder how many people usually attend with that. I can't help but wonder if that's some kind of ploy to keep people from exercising their rights or using their voice. It wouldn't shock me if it was. See the cynical thoughts that come to my head? Not sure you can blame that on my being a lawyer.

Anyhow, I did go & turned out to be a good decision. For one thing, they have public comment at the beginning of the meeting. I was happy to see this since you normally hear about it being at the end & we all know what happens at the end of a meeting: people leave or zone out & won't listen to you. I never like to perform last in a show if others are doing what I'm doing (singing or acting). I got to speak first since the person signed up ahead of me wasn't present.

I was able to eloquently make my point in less than 3 minutes & learned that the chairman along with others in the room had had the same problem with Verizon. I also met members of the community board, one of whom introduced me to another attorney who as it turned out is the spouse of a manager my husband worked with at one point. I warned hubby that if I meet managerial folk from his job, I'd directly ask them about the whole promotions issue & why my husband is not being properly utilized. Everyone knows it's best not to have me meet the library's HR folk because I'll let them have it as the person in charge of HR in my own business (informally but I'm the only lawyer & I've done the interviews for positions that didn't require creative judgments). Same for that library director: I'll take him to task since he deserves it & screwing with my family means you're screwing with me.

Hopefully, the Verizon issue was resolved but I appreciate getting the help and information. It certainly may still be time for a block association considering that abandoned house sitting there & possibly now being a druggie hangout. I did also get the sense that the community board did try to help folk & cared about what was going on. My husband wants to go to the next meeting.

So, a lesson: bother your politicians & go to your community board meetings. Then you can complain about corruption & make an educated decision in casting votes. Squeaky wheels & all that. Plus, getting in people's faces will show them that their constituents are watching & will not let them forget if they screw up or don't take action on some major issue.

However, what I'm not sure is available but would love to see as a smartphone app is an app where you can find out about all your local campaigns, go to all the campaign websites & learn about the campaign contributions accepted by each candidate. There are websites for the campaign contribution monies but I don't know of any one set place where you can learn about everyone running for local office & what their platforms are on major issues, including how they would solve problems within the realm of the office. This could give an edge to candidates with less money, especially if they aren't taking corporate "bribes", appearing in TV ads or invited to televised debates, late night talk shows, etc.

Say, Buddy Roemer who seems like one of the only Republicans who isn't a woman hating, lunatic fringe scumbag who constantly makes "gaffes" and either needs or has had a lobotomy. I wouldn't trust most of the media darling GOP candidates to manage a piggy bank, much less a whole country.

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