26 in 26: Update my CV & Apply for a job I think is out of my league

Sweet Sorrow

A few weeks back I noticed a cool sounding role advertised at Xero. They’re on my list of ‘places I want to work’ so even though I’ve no formal experience as a technical writer I decided to go for the technical writer position anyway. Well, it’s been a few weeks now with no response other than the automatic “we’ve received your email” email, so I feel fairly confident saying it was out of my league.

I halfheartedly applied for another web based role at the NZ Nurses Organisation and was completely surprised when I was called an interview. I haven’t been interviewed for a specific job in over 5 years so the only thing making me not throw up with nervousness was the expectation I wouldn’t get the role. They did have a few candidates with actual qualifications & experience so I didn’t get that one either, and while that’s the result I expected it’s always a bit of a punch in the guts to be rejected.

The day following rejection number one was revelatory though. The 30 day reinvention project is coming to an end and through a combination of story telling & asking the right questions I think I’ve figured out what I want to do with my life. (!!) I think I really figured it out quite a while back but didn’t have the words to express it succinctly.

I want to help creatives run THEIR dream businesses. I want to be the admin, the assistant, the book keeper, and the extra pair of hands. I want to photograph their art, pimp them out, and be in charge of the lawyers when people are horrible. The amount of pressure to perform on command as a “creative” is too much for me. I’m no good at self promotion or getting things done for myself. Ive always loved organizing things for others, playing with numbers, and meeting deadlines.

In the real world where almost no small time creatives in NZ have the money to pay a helper good money it means I’ll be gunning for great companies first, learning experiences second, and boring but secure and well paying jobs third. All options have benefits. There’s nowhere but up.

This computer will only turn on if you’re pretty

According to the website of one of the temping agencies I’m signed up with it’s a big no-no for women to turn up to job interviews without any make up on. This agency isn’t interviewing for make up artists, counter sales people, or models, so I don’t see how my make up less face is a big deal.

To be honest, I do wear make up. But it’s minimal. A bit of tinted moisturiser, a touch of concealer, a swipe of bronzing powder, and maybe some eye liner on a special occasion.

Does this make me unemployable?

Sometimes a single word is all you need

I’ve been a big fan of Hugh MacLeod’s work for a long time. His art, paired with a sentence or two tend to express exactly how I feel, just more concisely than I am able to express. I always feel the need to elaborate on why I feel a certain way. But this time I won’t, just know that these works express how I feel (or have felt, I don’t think that my current reationship has killed me).

Hugh MacLeod - Gapingvoid: Die for you

Hugh MacLeod - Gapingvoid: Corporate Drone

Hugh MacLeod - Gapingvoid: Sex and Cash Theory

High MacLeod - Gapingvoid: Love Regardless

Hugh MacLeod - Gapingvoid: Slavery

Hugh MacLeod - Gapingvoid: Writer's Block

Is it any wonder that I have so many unfinished and unstarted projects?

I’m currently revisiting an old workplace, helping out with the job I used to do in order to pay the bills and save some money for a summer holiday. It’s data entry work, hardly riveting, but I am getting paid for it nonetheless and therefore should be working.

Instead I am writing this post. It just popped into my head and I felt I had to start straight away. I’ve been here for almost two weeks and have tried to put a self imposed ban on twitter and my personal email account. I tried to give myself an allowance of checking it once per hour, it worked for a couple of days, and then it didn’t.

I have FOMO. And an unfocussed mind. I forget things if I don’t act on them or record them straight away.

If I’m on a computer I see no need not to be connected to everyone all the time. And it has destroyed my work ethic.

As a further experiment I decided to record all the random thoughts that popped into my head throughout the day that I would usually act on immediately so as not to lose them. Many points I still acted on right away, others were good to record so I could move on from the thought and continue working. But all showed just how attention deficit my brain is.

Just now I took a break from writing this to check twitter.

I have a problem.


Almost 7 weeks after writing that I am back at the same job for a couple more weeks and I’m finally publishing this post.

What is wrong with me?!

It’s hard to get out of my extreme lazy habits. Almost like I take it as a challenge to see how little I can do in a day and still manage to survive.

The last few months have been different for me. Business slowed down because I wasn’t paying it any attention and despite my savings I decided it was time to do some temping. I don’t want to have a full time permanent job that I hate ever again, so temping has been a nice compromise. Even nicer that I’ve managed to make the jobs I’ve worked so far part time hours.

After 6 hours in an office all I want to do is chill out. I don’t want to *have* to do something. So while Brend is getting up for work at 5.45 am and putting in 8 hours on his feet then coming home and either writing, playing music, prepping lessons for his new music students, catching up on the news, tending his plants or any number of other things that make him look like an on to it if not moderately stressed out man, I’m sitting on the bed waiting for him to finish so we can watch the next episode of The Wire.

That’s why I need deadlines.

After working for myself for over a year I’ve realised exactly how I work and how to make myself get things done. It’s a combination of doing things straight away so I don’t forget them. And giving myself deadlines that will make me look like an egg, make me miss out on something, or make someone angry if I don’t meet them.

It’s unfortunate. But it’s me. I’m trying.

To the offices that house Public Servants all over Wellington

Your money is a grand thing. It helps people like me, who don’t have formal qualifications but quite like sitting in front of a computer all day and are good at it, do the things they like. Buy the things they like. Travel to places far far away from you.

In your offices overhearing 30 minute conversations about why the printer is taking so long can be quite entertaining. Finding words like synergies and inter-dependencies in documents give sane people like me a bit of a laugh. (Hearing them said out loud however makes it hard to choose between laughing in your face and punching you in the face for being a pretentious dickwad.) And the free fruit helps to battle how gross I feel sitting in air conditioning 5 days a week.

Seeing how much money you waste though pisses me off. Giving temps, like me, work to fill only half their days is a huge waste of money. Money that me, my friends, and my family pay to the government in taxes.

And seeing how much power you give to Middle Managers that have no fucking clue pisses me off. Don’t you know it’s the little people that do all the work? They’re the ones that will leave and find another job quite easily when you won’t listen to a word they say. Sure, Middle Manager, you’re the one that will take the flak if shit hits the fan. But the little people you manage aren’t that concerned about that flak when you treat them like shit.

But do you know what’s great about coming back in to the office after a year away?

It’s reminded me why I left. Why temping is definitely the right choice for me. Why this is a money earner, not a career. And most of all, why focusing on my own business is important.

I want to try harder. I’ve been very slack the last 8 months. I forgot why I was running my business and how amazing that opportunity is.

Now I just have to wait for this assignment to be over so I can try again.

Thanks for being shit.



Existentialism On Cuba Street

Walking down Cuba with my friend Kelly yesterday afternoon we talked about our frightening realisation that we may never work “normal” jobs again.

Until a year ago I was quite happily resigned to the notion that I would work in an office my whole life. The weekends would be for living and weekdays for working. I planned to be well paid with little responsibility, never having to think very hard for myself. This lazy work life would lend itself well to a fun social life, including marriage, travel, and a mortgage. The prospect of this existence didn’t make me want to curl up and die, it didn’t even feel like my only option. It’s what I wanted!

And then everything changed. I no longer wanted someone telling me what to do. I didn’t care about earning a lot of money, as long as I could pay my bills. My relationship broke up. The thought of being tied to a mortgage became scary. And I realised that I wasn’t the same person any more, I was free of all that. I could live in the moment.

The problem for me and Kelly is that this path is not a usual one in our families, so there is no blueprint for us to follow. We’re making our own rules and it’s quite daunting.

And exciting.

Bill Day – Kiwi Bloke/Uber Rich Business Guy

bill day

This months speaker at our young professionals gathering was entrepreneurial Seaworks owner Bill Day. The ins and outs of the Seaworks business aren’t important in this context, and we’d both probably finding them uninteresting unless you’re a fan of marine exploration and using boats to get big projects done.

Bill is extremely personable, intelligent, and rich without being at all cocky, he seems like a dream boss, and the ideal mentor to entrepreneurs. Bill’s talk was full of anecdotes about getting started in the business and scoring big jobs. The explanation on how he got started with diving was that there was this woman, who really loved diving. And that’s about all he had to say to get us engaged and laughing.

Bill went on to liken new businesses to babies shitting on the carpet. It’s hard to enjoy them at that age even though everyone warns you that they’re the best years. He talked about being able to grow his business and create new methods purely because they had no idea what they were doing. They weren’t aware that some pieces of equipment should work in a certain way, they just knew enough to test new things. And the new ideas usually worked, worked better, and worked for a lot less money.

Being a Kiwi certainly seems to help when doing business. Most of the world loves us for our hard working, number 8 wire enthusiasm and the ability to adapt to other cultures. Doing a big business deal with Saudis can be nerve wracking, lots of foreign customs to remember, but if you remember they’re humans just like anyone else (and you’re a male) it might be easier. The night before a project was to be awarded Bill was having dinner with the clients, trying to schmooze remembering to reach with the correct hand, and then he’s passed a plate of sheep testicles as a test. Without missing a beat he grabs one and takes a bite. And then he says…this is great, it’s the first time I’ve been able to get one of these in my mouth without fear of being kicked in the head. It was followed by uproarious laughter and a night full of sheep jokes along with confidence he’d sealed the deal. The next day he wore a tie with sheep on it to the meeting and needless to say Seaworks got the job.


Another time they were trying to get a job for a guy who just doesn’t read proposals. He knew everything would be great and they’d get hired if they could get the guy to read it but they didn’t know how. Bill decided to buy a brand new Louis Vuitton briefcase for the meeting. He put the proposal inside and then put superglue in the locks. At the meeting he tried to open the briefcase in vain, he frantically wriggled and poked at it before asking if there was something to pry it open with. Nothing was getting it open so they decided to take to it with scissors. Both guys got involved at ripping this expensive briefcase to pieces in order to get the proposal out. And he couldn’t very well not read it after all that effort. Of course, he got the job.

Kiwis have a reputation for DIY and ingenuity. Number 8 wire has become a symbol of our “culture” and the ability to take bits and pieces and use them to get the job done. Last year when a helicopter crashed in Lake Wanaka Bill was there on holiday and able to give a hand to police divers trying to rescue the helicopter and body of the pilot. When the dive squad realised their equipment wasn’t going to be able to do the job, because there was no arm on the robot, Bill told them to just use a ski pole, rope, carabina and rubber bands and it worked.

Other funny stories include the time Bill sent and ex navy diver called Raro to be Tom Hanks’ bodyguard on while filming castaway. Raro was later found teaching Tom to do donuts in the golf carts. And the time they dropped a boat 12 times while trying to pull it out of the water. And the other time they had a boat with divided mess rooms for officers and crew and he walked into one of them with a chainsaw in the middle of lunch and cut it down.

After the talk he stuck around to answer more questions and drink beer. Bill runs his business like a family, everyone is equal and he lets the managers get with their jobs. He’s a typical Kiwi bloke who through hard work is now rich enough to buy helicopters for fun.

Unexpected Side Effects of Becoming Self Employed

My creation
  • Mini panics when I suddenly think I’ve only got one day left in my weekend till I have to go back to my horrid workplace. Obviously working in a nasty office left deeper scars than I’d realised.
  • Finding out I’m a night owl and my body would rather sleep until 2pm and then stay awake till 3am than get up with everyone else.
  • Not feeling the need to feed my face constantly. I’m eating probably half of what I was eating when I was in the office. No more eating to cure the boredom, no more left over cake in the staffroom. I often have my first meal of the day at about 4pm now. (um, except for last week where I ate almost 3 blocks of chocolate, a box of popcorn, two ice creams, a bag of lollies, cheese and crackers, and fish and chips)
  • Becoming a bit of a recluse. I haven’t been leaving the house unless we’ve been invited out somewhere, so I often leave the house only once or twice a week. Many days I live in a dressing gown because I don’t see the point in getting dressed!
  • An obsession with the Gilmore Girls. Now that I have no office these ladies are my workmate replacements.
  • Wanting to/having the time to bake again.

And some expected side effects: losing the bags under my eyes, not having such dry skin due to air conditioning, being happy!

Ready to Craft

Carpe Diem - Seize the Day

Opening an Etsy shop can be as frivolous or intensive experience as you want it to be. It really depends on how serious the craft business is to you.

If you’re looking to make Etsy an important part of your business there are HEAPS of articles available. A simple Google search or even better a browse around the Etsy forums or The Storque will give you lots of information on every aspect you can think of. Following links from all of the posts currently out there will keep you occupied for days and I’m also more than happy to answer any specific questions you’ve got about the points in this post, or your shop in general.

With all that information on hand and your Etsy Sellers Handbook on the ready I don’t feel like there is any real need for me to go into depth about starting a shop. So here’s a brief guide to getting started with some of the lessons I’ve learnt so far.

What are you called?

First things first. Once you’ve chosen your product, and assessed if there is a market (knitwear FYI doesn’t tend to do well on Etsy, and there is already a saturated jewellery market so yours better have a unique point) you’ll need to pick a name. If you’re already an Etsy member and you signed up with a name that has nothing to do with your brand then you’re going to have to sign up again sorry. Hopefully you have a different email address you can assign your old login to so you can sign up again, if not you’ll need to contact Etsy direct to get them to close your other login. Login names can’t contain any spaces so if you’ve got more than one word in your name start them all with capital letters. It makes it easier to read. Mine is CupcakesAndMace.
Search around Etsy and the web to make sure you’re not infringing on anyone’s brand. Think of something memorable, easy to spell, and potentially a good search term. If you’re a blogger you’ll be familiar with this process as you would have had to do it when you came up with your blog name or domain name.

What do you look like?

Next you’ll need to create a banner and avatar. Along with your shop name and product photos these will be how Etsy users identify you and your brand. It’s better to use one of your best product photos as your avatar and not a picture of yourself. When you participate in the Etsy forum other members will see your picture and a great product shot might entice them to check out your wares.

What will you do?

Get your policies sorted before you start listing product. Which countries are you going to ship to, are you/can you offer wholesale and if so what are your terms, what happens if something gets lost or broken in the post, is insurance extra, how will you accept payment, when do you expect payment, can you do custom or altered pieces? There are lots of things to think about and you can’t expect people to stick around if you don’t have an answer for them.

Cupcakes and Mace Packaging

How will you present yourself?

Make sure you have your packaging sorted before you make your first sale. It needs to be sturdy enough to withstand the brutalities of any one of the worlds postal systems. Little known fact is that postal workers jump on piles of packages for fun. Make your package waterproof, address it correctly with a return address and include all necessary custom documentation. Don’t bow to pressure to fudge these documents because it could get you into some trouble.

What are you worth?

Pricing is very controversial but very important. I have a spreadsheet that I use to price my work and it’s something you should definitely think about too. It should take into account the cost of materials, packaging and fees. How long it takes to create, making sure to include time for taking photographs, trips to the post shop, listing the item and any other time you spend working. Multiply that time by your hourly rate. Add on your expected profit percentage. And you have your wholesale rate.
This is the rate you’ll sell to wholesale customers, people with their own business who will resell your items for profit. Standard practice is that wholesale is 50% of retail price, and wholesale customers will have to buy a certain amount from you to get the discount.
The wholesale rate is not the price you use on Etsy. You’ll need to multiply your wholesale rate by two to get your retail price. This is the price you’ll sell on Etsy for. Hopefully it meets current market expectations or is unique enough to sell at whatever price you’ve come up with. If it’s too expensive and you’re looking to make money you might need to reconsider your product, the materials, or the discount you give to wholesalers. Don’t ever sell yourself short though. Even if you’re doing this as a hobby remember that others are doing it for a living and if you undersell them too much they’ll get bitter.

How do I find you?

The title, description, and tags in Etsy are all very important as well. Searching on Etsy is defaulted to searching through titles and tags. Make sure your title is descriptive (but doesn’t look like a spammy list of search terms) and use all 14 of your tags! Use them, every time!

Oooo pretty!

The most important thing of all in my opinion is your photos. People like to buy things from professionals, if your photos look good they will automatically make your product seem more valuable and professional. Show your product from every necessary angle. You need to show the customer what they would see if they were holding your product.
Great photos might also get you featured in blogs, and on the Etsy home page.

Alright so now you know the basics, you need to go ahead and do it. If you have any questions or would like a post on a specific point of selling on Etsy let me know in the comments.

With HTML Like This…

A couple of weeks ago I finally managed to get a meeting with one of my managers after weeks of waiting and appointments being changed.
Unfortunately it wasn’t good news, apparently there are rules for Crown Entities right now which restrict their head count to the number it currently sits at. That means I can’t leave one job for a newly created position within the organisation because that would mean hiring someone to fill my current position.
Sounds like a poor excuse to me but one I can’t argue with. Maybe they just wanted to get rid of me, although they say the opposite.

I cannot work for a woman as vindictive and stupid as the one I have to report to anymore, so as many of my readers know I’ve handed in my resignation.

I’m going to be working from home on my little jewellery business, doing lots of writing and scheming. And a bit of cleaning, cooking, and exercising. Hopefully a lot more sleeping too.
I’m going to have ample time to collaborate with others. Lend a hand to their virtual, or otherwise projects. And hopefully meet some new inspiring people.
If you need some help with your projects let me know!

It’s a really exciting time in my life. And I’m so thankful for The Boy offering to be my sugar-daddy for a while. Even though I love the content management job that I’m seconded to 50% of the time it’s time for something new. They really do need a content manager though!

This is their idea of how to set up a table in html. Apparently you just press the space bar till it lines up.