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Just Cannot get Good Help these Days!

November 14, 2012

Operatic baritone and Durham University Chancellor Sir Thomas Allen performing at Alumni event in Chicago.

There are times when I think, “should I really blog about this?”, and this is one of those times where I wonder if we risk disillusioning customers that we’re not a big conglomerate (yet!).  There was actually a time back in the 90’s when I worked in the banking industry in London that I had 2 secretaries and a personal assistant, and I completely felt that my team and I could not live without any of them at the time.  Now anyone that has started their own business knows that these little luxuries are beyond our payroll budget of $0.

So Spinner and I wear many hats and perform the role of many departments.  We have valued independent contractors, reps, etc., but no staff to perform the many admin roles that a business requires.  Late last night the IT department got an email from the Marketing department that the new holiday promo code “TURKEY30″” was going to be starting in the morning and could they make sure that banner on the website was updated.  The IT department looked under her bed to see if a laptop happened to be there, as they often do fall asleep with one nearby. Unfortunately it was downstairs and the middle of the night, so the IT department decided that it would set their alarm and do it in the morning.  (The IT department doesn’t really need an alarm, since they have a new puppy that likes to go out at 5am!).

We often need to scold the Shipping department, which primarily consists of Spinner and her kids – With the exception of when we “hire” interns to help during the holidays and other peak periods.  So I find it amusing when Spinner will reply that she will have to refer an email to the “Shipping Department” after a client query – Which usually means she’ll look up the UPS Tracking code online herself and send an email from the Shipping dept email address.

So while I was at an alumni event for The University of Durham (England) where I received my MBA, I had a funny “many hat” conversation.  As I was introducing myself to someone and said my name, someone from the university spun around and exclaimed, “You’re Jayne Drew, I’ve been leaving messages with your secretary all week!”   I assumed that they must have had me confused with someone else and politely replied that I would have to have a word with her on Monday.  But when they knew that I was connected with Smashing, I was stunned and promised to get to the bottom of the story.  Seems that there was a separate business event that I could have been invited to speak, had my secretary only gave me the message!

So mentioning this to Spinner if she was forgetting to give me my messages, she did recall a foreign sounding guy she couldn’t understand mention my name, but didn’t think it was important.  She still had the message and we listened to it, and it played back in an impeccable British accent.  Guess who is not getting a holiday bonus this year?!?  (Although, she’s still up for Salesman of the Year – but with our new sales reps we’ve brought on board the last few months, think this could be her last year with the honor.)

So with Thanksgiving around the corner, we’re thankful that we’re able to run this company with very little overheads and any doubts about unveiling a bit about Smashing behind the scenes have been allayed with a bit of humour.  However, sure wish my assistant would go get me a coffee now, but since he has 4 legs and a tail, I think I’ll have to fetch it myself.

Have a Smashing day!

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