I’ve just read the last chapter of the book “Satin Island”, on the recommendation of I think someone I should consider a friend, at least of sorts: Mike Stubbs, the CEO of FACT Liverpool.
I say of sorts, because I’m still unclear – my fault I’m sure – as to what he might want out of our acquaintance.
But a man and artist of real and considerable interest, he most certainly is.
The last chapter of “Satin Island” makes me now want to read the rest. I cannot be anything but grateful to Mike for pointing me in its direction. And it also makes me want to recommend it to you. The narrative voice – at least in Chapter 14 – is cool and composed, and fully self-aware. I won’t say what I have learnt about the book by starting at the end, but I think I can say part of the protagonist’s journey involves choosing wisely between meaningless alternatives.
I empathise strongly with this dilemma.
I have begun to attempt to do the same.
So I now have some priority summer reading. And maybe I’ll discover it more or less tells the story of my past eight months – or perhaps much much longer than that – in some weirdly apposite manner. And maybe not only my own story – maybe all our stories combined, these days.
In some curious and gorgeously wild way, anyhow.
Read it, please. If you like good writing, then you won’t be disappointed. And if you’re at all interested in comprehending life, especially the distractions and confusions of 21st century life, then this book and its author will surely take you to that place.
I didn’t get through to the third phase of my job application.
The first was an interview; the second, a proofreading task of eight documents (though one I was unable to open as the relevant program wasn’t installed on the workstation). I did the work quicker than I needed to: when I proofread, I do so quickly so the information and the connections between the different elements in a document remain usefully to the forefront of my mind. It may not be the best way for some people but it seems to work best for me.
Didn’t get me the job, though.
I wrote a piece on feeling black a short while ago. The job I was applying for was at a small newspaper with what I would suppose you’d call an ethnic- and gender-specific demographic. That’s how one of the people there described it to me, anyhow.
I thought I could do the job well. I think the other candidate or candidates must’ve done the job better. I could’ve added stuff that experience brings, but perhaps experience – when, quite rightly, you aim to empower a certain disadvantaged profile – is quite the worst thing you can add, especially if you are of an advantaged profile.
Most of my life, as a young sufferer of an epilepsy my doctor disbelieved, as an adolescent growing up between cultures never entirely belonged to, as a person in mid-life who experienced severe mental ill-health issues, I’ve felt myself sort of a permanent and recurring outsider.
Maybe when I said I felt black in the piece I linked to above, that’s what I was identifying with.
You can be white and feel an outsider too.
Outside many things out there.
Outside too many things.
The lesson I take from a highly revealing interview process? I can still do interviews; I can still apply for jobs; I can still take being knocked back; I can still look to pick myself up – and dust myself down as well.
Expectations which the environment that I (a bit unknowingly) applied to work in wasn’t able to fulfil this time round? I realise, after seven years of once having worked in a corporation of 100,000+ employees, that I’m actually – still – quite a corporate soul. I don’t mean I necessarily prefer working for huge organisations. But I think I need the structure that manifest process and procedure provide.
At the small newspaper in question, an org which produces a product its demographic seems to be positively in love with, there seems little analysis of end-to-end process: at first glance, for example, there was no intranet – an absolute must I would’ve thought for an organisation that deals in confidential data. But maybe I’m being too picky here. Maybe it’s the slightly sour grapes of still not having got over gentle rejection.
Other things I could criticise in similar vein.
Other things I really won’t criticise.
It’d be human to do so, but – equally – not right in the least.
Confidential is as confidential does.
So let’s finish today, in the light of the above, with the title of the post. What makes for a good work environment?
For me, not too big; small enough, for instance, for me to able to remember the names of the people whose names I need to remember! (This is not an insignificant matter either – my memory of names and faces is appalling … you think this is funny, maybe, but it’s really rather sad.)
Also, sense and sensibility in process and procedure – a logic and rationale behind mostly everything we do.
And, perhaps more important than anything else, to be involved in doing something not only different but also differently.
So. Small enough to be workable in but big enough to provide opportunities to grow.
Real opportunities, mind. Stuff which inspires the parts of an operation to do far more together than they’d ever do by themselves.
That’s how I’d see it, anyhow. Corporate but manageable; organised but positivist.
I never thought such thoughts’d see the light of day.
Whaddya know? I am, after all, a being of corporate inclinations.
So what do you think? Is that really bad of me to have to admit? And might you find yourself admitting the same?
Update to this post: this Guardian article on the Egyptian online newspaper Mada makes for a fascinating long read. Newspapering for a cause you cannot forget – nor forgo perhaps, either. The essence of publishing is to cross borders, after all. And in order to cross borders, there’s always a no-man’s-land to get through sooner or later.
Notable, as a final observation, how so many of the featured journalists and people responsible are women.