What My Family Thinks I Do for a Living – Part I

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I met my now-husband in May 2011 just before I took my entrepreneurial leap the following July. For almost 10 years, he has been with me as my business has evolved, he’s shared in my successes, and has provided a sounding board for advice. I’ve written other blogs on how we function together as dual entrepreneurs, communicate with opposite personality types, and most recently, our rules for working from a shared home office since COVID-19 hit.

All this said, you would think he’s pretty in tune with everything I do in a day. However, the reality is we intentionally keep our personal and professional life somewhat separate. Sure, we ask questions or share a story or update when it feels relevant, but by no means does he know my daily to-do list or even my current client list. And the same can be said of me for his business. This got me thinking that it could be fun to hear, in his words, what he thinks I do for a living, especially when asked to articulate it on the spot.

So for this week’s blog, I graciously asked Scott if he might answer a few “easy” questions about me, and he obliged. Let’s say some of his answers greatly varied from my own views – and I love that! Here’s just the beginning of a multi-part series on “What My Family Thinks I Do for a Living” – take a read and enjoy a laugh!

In one sentence, describe what I do for a living.

You’re a strategic communications consultant who helps clients solve diverse and complex problems.

When I’m typing at my computer, what am most likely working on?

You’re most likely “ghost-writing” for any of your many different clients, and I couldn’t even guess the topic. From our conversations, I know it could be anything from op-eds about politics and government policies to an analysis of the industrial real estate market. I can tell when you hit your stride on a project because you start pounding away the keyboard and become laser-focused; I don’t dare fight for your attention in that moment. So in short, when you’re at your computer I know you’re most likely consumed with putting your thoughts into words – in whatever format that may be needed.

Describe what you think my normal workday looks like?

First of all that not really a fair question, because every day is so different. Some days you wake up at 5 am to get ahead of the curve, be present with the kids during their morning routine, and protect downtime later in the day for yourself whether that’s reading, exercising, or even catching up on a Netflix series (yeah, I see that). And other times you enjoy sleeping in, which is never past 7:30 am with kids, and then intensely dial into work the rest of the day.

I don’t think you have any, one meeting or phone call for a client call that happens more than once per week, and even that is rare. You do a really good job of protecting your time and preventing “scope creep” from your projects.

Rarely do I see you work past 4 pm – and when I do it’s usually for a really good reason and limited to a day or two per month – so you’re almost always present with family in the late afternoons and evenings. You take care of dinner plans every night, grocery shopping, keeping laundry moving, and coordinating most household responsibilities whether kept internally or outsourced. In short, I don’t know what all you do in any given workday, but I know it’s way more than I could handle on top of my workload.

What about my work makes me most happy?

Being compensated fairly for the value you provide to your clients and knowing your work truly makes a difference locally, regionally, even nationally.

And what stresses me out the most?

People (ha!). But seriously, when you have more than three phone calls or Zoom meetings on your calendar in a day, it’s like being sent off for a root canal at the dentist. I know this comes from being an introvert so meetings, phone calls, and high engagement with people back-to-back in a day leaves your energy levels zapped and room for little else to get done. The other stressor would be not having control of your time and feeling like projects are taking more of it than you anticipated. So really, I guess the two go hand-in-hand.

In one word, describe “Work Stephanie.”

Intense.

What makes you most proud of my work?

The passion you have for meeting your clients’ needs and the confidence with which I can recommend you to anybody because I know you are going to deliver. I’ve known you since day one of Bennis Public Relations and have seen every day of your growth, development, and even setbacks. I’m in awe of what you’ve accomplished in less than a decade and the ease and efficiency with which you run your business – at least from my point of view. I can say, that of all the other business owners – even business professionals in general that I know, there are few and far between that function at this level – much less as a sole proprietor!

***

Stephanie’s Assessment: A-

So maybe I need to give Scott a little more credit as to paying attention to what I do each day! This also makes me realize I may need to be a little more discrete on the days where I have a lot of margin and can be found doing, well… “less than work-related” things. Who am I kidding? I enjoy highlighting the freedom and flexibility of entrepreneurship to anyone I can. And with Scott as an entrepreneur, he can often join me on mid-day runs, lunch dates, and a walk around our property during our personal “happy hour.”

The way he described my work in one sentence, what makes me most happy, and what makes me most stressed, are exactly what I would have told anyone else first-hand. And I’ll own up to my one-word description of intense!

The only area Scott’s answer differed from my own would be what I’m most likely doing at my computer. Writing is a huge part of my everyday work, but most often I’m project managing. This means shooting emails out like Grand Central Station, following up with people, sending reminders and meeting agendas, and even giving people some tough love when they fall short of my standards for deadlines or quality of work. I don’t subcontract out the work I can do, rather I collaborate with fellow vendors who enhance my work (graphic design, web design, media placement, SEO/SEM). This takes a lot of project management on behalf of my clients. I’m their single point of contact on a project, yet there can be as many as 10 other “cooks in the kitchen” I’m working with on their behalf.

All that said, Scott still earned an A- for his spot-on answers. I know, I’m a tough evaluator (of myself as well). It’s a good thing for many that I didn’t pursue a career as a judge or teacher.

***

How well does your spouse know what you really do for a living? If you asked them some of the questions above, how might they respond? I challenge you to make this a dinner conversation tonight. There might be some laughs that come from it!

And as you likely picked up on, this is only Part I which means there is more to come! Stay tuned for next week’s Bennis Inc. blog post where I interview my 7-year-old son to see what he thinks I do for a living. This will be as much a surprise to me as it will be to you. And if you want a reminder so you don’t miss it, simply subscribe using the button on this page!

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