On Vacation, and Collaboration

{My journal on vacation: Photo by me}

I was on vacation last week. Did you notice? And now I’m back. Cheers to Lauren and Alyssa, who kept things running seamlessly while I was away. Hurrah! Later this week I’ll be back with tales from the vacation. Once, you know, my lap top with all my writing on it gets out of the shop (Sob!)

I could write a treatise on the importance of taking vacations when you’re self employed, but I’ll say in sum: if you want to save your sanity and not burn out, it’s one of the most important things you can do. As a self employed person, one of the only times I can fully power down my work brain down is when I’m away, forcibly unplugged. It gives me time to think, and reflect, and usually makes some new plans by the end of the trip. I figure out what is working for me, and what’s not, and well, I nap a lot.

One of the things I realized on this trip is how much I miss collaborating. I started my professional creative career in theatre, which is the most collaborative of art forms. I produced, I threw galas, I raised money—all things that made me work with people non-stop. And now I’m making my living blogging, writing, and running a business. If I so chose, this could be the least collaborative of art forms, but I’m not having that. As APW has grown and changed, it’s become a powerful community gathering spot (yay!), full of writing by guest posters (yay!), and now I have a staff to help me out. And I can’t tell you how much I love working with a staff. I have people to bounce ideas off of, to meet with, to make spreadsheets with, to make plans for world domination with.

{Erin at Mighty Summit by Zan}

And collaboration was part of the reason I was so delighted to participate in the Stories I Only Told My Mom e-book (which is now available on Amazon for ease of purchase). Not only did I get to write an essay on a topic I wouldn’t touch on the blog, but I was able to work with fabulous people, including Erin Loechner of Design for Mankind, who is truly one of the sweetest, feistiest, and most has-your-back-girlfriends on the internet. Seriously. I’ve ended up sharing a bed with her at the last two conferences I attended, sort of accidentally, like the universe is throwing us together to learn from each other. And then, in Stories I Only Told My Mom, Erin wrote the essay that smacked me upside the head with humor, and wit, and truth.

She wrote about the importance of WHO you work for, something I thought a lot about on vacation last week. We talk a lot about entrepreneurship on APW, and working for yourself has been great for me. But working for yourself isn’t the be all end all, and it’s not right for lots of people (it’s been dead wrong for me in the past). But over and over and over, what’s proven to be true for me, is that who you work for always, always matters. And these days, I think about that as an employer (which feels borderline crazy to say). How do I build a sense of trust and respect? How do I create an environment where creative collaboration is happening? How do I create work for the whole APW team that feeds our souls? I’m slowly figuring it out, and thanks to Erin for reminding me of how important it is.

In short, I was glad to be gone, but I’m really glad to be back, doing the work and collaborating with all of you to create a community of, well, awesomeness.

You can buy the Stories I Only Told My Mom e-book on Amazon, and read my raw essay about finding closure, and Erin’s hilarious and wise essay about finding meaningful work, not to mention 14 other excellent women’s essays.

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  • I just purchased this for my Kindle. I can’t wait to start reading it!

  • Welcome Home Meg!

    • meg

      Thank you! It’s mostly nice to be back… I only miss the sea a little.

  • Danielle

    You’re so smart :)

    My current job is pretty boring, but my funny, straightforward boss makes it easy to come to work every day. I’ve also worked for places that I *thought* I would love (it was the industry that interested me, was a small company, woman-run, etc) and totally hated b/c of the supervisors’ lack of communication, micro-managing, etc etc.

    I’m trying to learn from the managers I’ve liked, and not, in order to become a more effective leader (and person).

    Thanks for this reminder!

  • Marchelle

    Glad you went, and very, very glad to have you back.

  • nothing like stepping away from your everyday life to make you re-evaluate things! hope you had the relaxing time you deserve!

  • It is so true that strong relationships built on trust and respect are the foundations of collaborative success! As is doing work that is meaningful and in line with your values. It is so rare to come across this in organizations, but I am glad to see that you are consciously working toward this model of leadership. Way to go, Meg!

  • I’ve been thinking about business leadership a lot too… I just started a new job and, at the moment, have really been loving that they offered me respect for my skills and my personality right off the bat — somehow I didn’t have to prove it to them (or maybe I did in the interview? I don’t know.) Either way it feels like quite a relief to start from the middle-top instead of the bottom.

    I’m also impressed with the passion, honesty and straightforward communication I’m getting from the (all female) leadership. That they have undying passion and energy for our project is really exciting. Plus, they’re SMART and super savvy… I’m continuously impressed and given examples of how I want to work in the company. I’ve worked for a different woman-owned company before and it was almost like the leaders didn’t believe they should be there and needed constant validation from us, their worker pions, which caused a downward spiral of momentum. It was a weird and difficult and something I wouldn’t recommend you do.

    All that is just to say… I think you can inspire collaboration and joy and passion for your work and employees and baby business by doing what you’re doing– leading by example. You’re taking vacations and then coming home to kick some ass and get published (on paper!) all over the place these days… which inspires all of us readers to exercise our fingers and work our writer-magic as well.

    • meg

      Oh… I don’t think it’s a baby business anymore. As my accountant often tells me, I show a lot more profit than restaurants (poor restaurants, but that’s a side note).

      Anyway, thank you, this is helpful stuff.

      • JEM

        I think she means baby business as in big plans to continue developing and growing, not to say anything about your profits.

  • There is something priceless about working WITH, about having someone who gets what you’re saying because they’re in the trenches and hate the same people you do. Someone who knows what you’ll need because they’ve noticed your day, someone who doesn’t have your exact experience but close enough to get what you’re saying.

    I’m glad you’re finding that in all shapes and sizes!