Sunday, January 24, 2010

Oh hai blog: where I been.

Hi there. Long time, no write. I've just come up for air after one of the longest weeks ever. I wrote a bit last year about how I was really flailing about professionally and that I wasn't sure what was in store for me. It was definitely true, and in some ways I still feel that way. It is hard sometimes to wake up every day and face an office when all you want to do is knit and blog and ride your bike around a fabulous city. But lately things have been better, despite the long hours I've been putting in recently. I have a new boss, who can never replace my fab old boss, but who is pushing me harder than I've ever been pushed professionally. I've always known that while a self-starter, I always work best when somebody is continually raising a bar for me. I am in some ways very lazy unless someone is constantly pushing me to be on my toes. New boss definitely does that, and when I stopped resisting it I found myself more and more engaged with my work on a daily basis. That's something I haven't felt in a while.

I've also been attacking some workplace demons that were born, in my mind, out of the innate differences between American and British business culture. I've had to learn a lot about humility, graciousness, hard work, compromise, and status - things that don't really seem to matter in the American workplace. Obviously you have to be a team player and treat people with respect in the US, but otherwise shameless self-promotion is the only way to the top. Here in the UK, at least at my company, there seems to be an intricate web of reputation, hierarchy, and playing to ones strengths in a humble nearly invisible way that drives promotion and seniority. A young brash American can't simply say, "I brought you £X worth of business, promote me" because it's all about how you did it, who saw it, and the impression you made on them while doing it. It's been a really bitter pill for me to swallow, but I'm starting, slowly, to get it. I'm hoping my dawning realization is in time for me to prove to the senior staff that I am committed to doing a good job in London and I'm not heading back to the new world any time soon.

Until then, though, it's looking like more early mornings and late nights... hopefully I can fit in the time to update BloodyBrill despite my epic workdays.


  1. Hi Danielle

    Nice post. I have an american friend and colleague here in London who really struggles with the very problems you have described. I haven't yet been able to explain where he is going wrong at work but I think I may show him your post.


  2. Hi Sam - thanks for the comment. Definitely do share the post because I have found amongst my American friends here, most of us have experienced this situation. It's not like an anti-American thing, more just our concept of career progression is just different than the British. It makes one question why we keep struggling in a different type of meritocracy, but in the end international experience is invaluable in more ways than one. D.