Melody, the work email addict


by Melody Vaught

“Hi, my name is Melody and I am addicted to email.” If I were to join a help group for addicted email users, that would be my opening line.

Allow me to explain.  I am paid to work a regular 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., Monday to Friday schedule and yet, I check and respond to work email multiple times, evenings, weekends, and vacations.  Part of the problem is my work ethic and my ego.  My ego is tied to being perceived as performing at a very high, and obviously, at a very consistent, level.  My email addiction shouts out to my supervisors and colleagues, you can count on me 24/7.  It is not uncommon for my supervisor, who is handsomely compensated for working long hours, and me, who is not, to exchange emails as late as 11 p.m., and, yes, even on a Saturday night, when we remarked to one another that our lives must be very boring if we were spending our Saturday evenings on work emails.  The turn-around time when an email enters my inbox is at warp speed, I definitely take care of business.

I simply can’t disconnect from work.  Believe me, I have read enough articles about the detrimental mental and physical health effects of the American work obsession and I am aware of the six week vacations and long lunch break siestas of our European counterparts.  Matching our productivity to those of European workers, we come out the winners, but at what price?

Katherine Graham’s quote resonates with me:

“To love what you do and feel that it matters – how could anything be more fun?”

I do love what I do and I do feel that it matters and, at times, my work is great fun, but I wonder how much more creative and productive I could be if I permitted myself to disconnect and re-charge.  So, I asked myself, what could get me to disconnect, at least while I was on vacation, and then, I discovered an incentive; not just paid vacation time, but, a paid vacation.

Bart Lorang, owner of Full Contact, a contact management company based in Boulder, Colorado, blogged about his company policy of giving each employee $7,500 (before taxes) to go on vacation once a year.  His employees get a paid, paid vacation; paid for the days they aren’t at work and their vacations expenses are covered.  The rules are:

  1. You have to go on vacation, or you don’t get the money
  2. You must disconnect, no electronic devices.
  3. You can’t work while you are on vacation.

Bart acknowledges that it isn’t healthy to be continually connected to work and validates his position with a photo of the pyramids in the background, and him on a camel, working his phone.   He feels that it would be a better company if his employees would disconnect, at least for two weeks a year, and that everyone in his employ works hard and deserves a nice vacation.

You can imagine the comments regarding his blog which run the gamut from a United Kingdom worker with 23 paid vacation days who declares that the traditional 10 days of vacation a year is what keeps him from ever working for a United States company to the response from someone who theatrically writes that he is dropping to one knee to ask, Will you be my boss?

I might have a few more thoughts to write in this blog, but you must excuse me as Full Contact is hiring and being paid $7,500 to disconnect from work may be the cure for my addiction.  If you want to join me in applying for a position, visit Mr. Lorang’s blog.

About the Author

Melody Vaught

Melody Vaught is an Instructor at the Small Business Development CenterYouth Entrepreneurship Program and Counseling Instructor at Santiago Canyon College.

About What’s For Work?

The Premier Career Site for Women. http://www.whatsforwork.com

Mission: To redefine how employers acquire talent and women find and preserve their dream jobs using innovative technologies.

Company Overview: What’s For Work? helps women take control of their careers by providing a rich set of tools that develop their knowledge, skills and confidence they need to land and preserve their dream jobs.
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How to Network Like a Working Girl


by Melody Vaught

Working Girl

Source: tvtropes.org

The 80’s movie, Working Girl, generated an epiphany for me.  The actress, Melanie Griffith, using information she reads in the business section, entertainment news, and, yes, even a tabloid, pulls together bits of information and formulates a successful business deal.  Having information is powerful and knowing how to put that information to use is genius—so I started speed reading my local newspaper, and, branched out to other newspapers, magazines and online sources.

You may be asking yourself how reading these publications could benefit anyone professionally but trust me, my professional and personal life have been enhanced by making this a habit, including being quoted in The Wall Street Journal.  Here are a few great stories that illustrate things.

Going Down?

Riding an elevator alone, the doors opened at the 2nd floor and a nicely dressed woman entered.  I asked my elevator partner if she worked in the building, she handed me her business card, the elevator doors opened on the first floor, she exited and I pocketed her business card.  Over the next three years, her name was mentioned in complimentary articles in the newspaper twice.  I mailed her the articles with a short note reminding her where we met and congratulated her.  Sometime later, a student came to me with a critical time- sensitive need.  I tapped into my network hoping to find someone who could help fill his need without any success.  I had my hand on my phone to call the student and admit defeat when I thought of the woman in the elevator.  I used her email address on her business card, reminded her how we met, presented the need and contact information for the student and suggested she contact him directly, if she thought she could help him.  This woman not only filled the student’s need but filled it in a spectacular way that changed the student’s life.  My only contact with this woman was that 10 second elevator ride and those two mailed newspaper articles.

Mind If I Quote You?

One newspaper I read is The Wall Street Journal.  I emailed one of the columnists with a website that was related to the subject of her most recent column.  She responded to thank me and requested some information.  When I provided the information she requested about my educational and professional background, she asked me for a quote on the topic of her next column.  She included my quote in her next column, gave me credit and included the name of my work place.

A Proud Teacher and College

Recently, a front page story in the Home & Garden section of the newspaper featured a two page article about an unusually decorated local home that caught my eye.   The front page of the article mentioned the home owner was the CEO of a multi-media company that produces commercials and movie trailers.  The next page included a quote giving credit to the college where I was employed for his start in film.  I sent a copy of the article to the faculty member I correctly thought had been this man’s film instructor.  I discovered that this man had stayed in touch with his instructor and the teacher gave me permission to use his name should I want to contact the CEO in the future.

How to Network Like a Working Girl

Over the years, I have mailed or scanned and emailed a hundred or more newspaper, online and magazine articles to the subjects of the articles, who were people I thought I might like to contact in the future, the top administrators in my organization with whom I wanted to network, and colleagues who I thought would find the information useful, with a short personal note, and, when appropriate, my business card or contact information.

In your business and your personal life, looking for ways to acknowledge the accomplishments of others and validating that you actively listened to conversations and remembered peoples’ interests and needs is a great way to network, make a lasting impression and open the door to opportunities.

About the Author

Melody Vaught

Melody Vaught is an Instructor at the Small Business Development CenterYouth Entrepreneurship Program and Counseling Instructor at Santiago Canyon College.

About What’s For Work?

The Premier Career Site for Women. Real People. Real Connections. Real Support. — with everything in one place! http://www.whatsforwork.com/

Mission: To redefine how employers acquire talent and women find and preserve their dream jobs using innovative technologies.

Company Overview: What’s For Work? helps women take control of their careers by providing a rich set of tools that develop their knowledge, skills and confidence they need to land and preserve their dream jobs.
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