Thursday, November 1, 2018

The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday

The poorer billionaire, or the lessor known, sober actress... might be good for those workers cut from a different cloth. 

I think that a lot of getting through life is figuring out where we fit in.

It might be for our vocations in general, or it might be for the workplace itself, after we've figured out the vocation.

Or, maybe it will be something as simple as a coffee shop.  Some people, I've noticed, are really at home inside the pristine, corporate decor of a Starbucks... preferably one on the upper west side.  Others, though - and coffee lovers all of them - would never be caught dead there; some people would only fit in at the more earthy, somewhat dimly lit and dusty local coffee shops of the lower east side. 

Yet I think if you were to do a blind tasting of the coffee itself, I bet that no one inside either of those very different places could tell which coffee came from which cafe. It's just about the feeling. It's the "fit in" of those people around you.


I don't know too much about the Navy Seals. I think maybe no one does, and I think that's probably just fine with the Navy Seals. From what very few brief interviews I've seen, they are a fairly humble bunch, and they know what their purpose is.  

But from those same, brief interviews, there's a theme that keeps coming through: they fit in with each other. The Navy Seals enjoy the fact, from what I can tell, that they are working alongside other Navy Seals. In fact, it seems to be the most important thing to each of the Navy Seals, even more important than the missions themselves. They've found a place to fit in.

I've never heard a Navy Seal disrespecting someone who isn't a Navy Seal. In other words, they simply realize that they are cut from a different cloth, and it's not necessarily better than any of the others who fill the ranks of the other Navy jobs, it's just different. And yet it's not just different. It's... more.

The Navy Seals have a motto and I learned of it yesterday when I passed by a watch retailer in midtown and saw it written on a watch in the window:

The only easy day was yesterday.

Workplace Culture #1: The Only Easy Day Was Yesterday
I'd never heard that motto and I had to Google it, to see what it was all about. And then it all made sense. 

There's just a type of person that makes it as a Navy Seal, or, actually, makes it as anyone in any workplace which demands the same mindset of its members:  Every day, you will work harder and perform better than the day before. Yesterday, then, will always look easier than what you're doing today.  

People with that mindset - and just the same for people who don't share that type of outlook - know that it's important they surround themselves with others who are the same. Because everyone, like anyone, needs to fit in to the culture they belong in. Whatever that culture is.


One of my fondest memories during my domestic staffing days was helping a perky, bright eyed, middle-aged housekeeper - you know the type, one of those really feisty ones that walks in attentively, eager to understand the job - and even more eager to get out there and actually do the job. Just plain eager!

She had a pretty good job at the time - by domestic industry standards, I mean - except for one gnawing detail: her co-workers didn't like her. They resented the fact that she always wanted to do... more. Her co-workers hated, actually, the fact that when it was a light work day at the estate, she'd always want to go into a back storage room somewhere and clean things up, rearrange stuff so it looked nice (even if no one would ever see it except for the staff), and find some dust bunnies to attack with her swiffer cloths.  

Workplace Culture #2: The Only Easy Day Is Every Day
And as she relayed, her co-workers would often admonish her, "stop working so hard, you're making the rest of us look bad." 

She got this push-back not only from her co-worker housekeepers, but also from the household manager and the personal assistants, as well. 

It was a lonely place for her. They all fit in with each other - and they all had the blessings of the principals. It was a retirement village, and a very successful one at that. And no one there was going to let someone come in and mess that up for them.

But she didn't want to just spend the day sitting on the couch in the guest room and screwing off. She wanted to do something else. This eager worker wanted to do something... more

And this eager worker just didn't fit in there. 


Whether in employment or in any of life's endeavors, I think the most important factor is fitting into the culture. And I think that idea is lost among many people in our industry. Because what I see being promoted by domestic staff recruiters as important for success in domestic jobs - really isn't. 

Someone who is "UHNW" with tens of billions dollars, is not, necessarily, tens of times better to work for than someone with only one tiny billion dollars. Yet, you would never know that, from reading the online job postings and hearing people talk about these jobs.  

And an actress ten times more visible than the others in the Hollywood tabloids, is not, necessarily, ten times better to work for than an actress who flies under the radar and simply does her job of acting well. Yet, you would never know that, from reading the online job postings and hearing people talk about these jobs.

The family office and domestic staff operation of the "UHNW" client or the "high profile" client may actually be a retirement village, one with a revolving door because of the unfortunate high performers who step inside from time to time and get fired for not fitting in; for embarrassing or causing discomfort to those who are hunkered down into the tragic, impenetrable workplace culture of "don't work too hard, you're making the rest of us look bad."

The poorer billionaire, or the lessor known, sober actress, however, might be good for those workers cut from a different cloth. Those places might, in fact, turn out to be truly great workplaces for someone who, like that firecracker of a housekeeper I was so honored to know, walks in attentively every day, eager to do... more... that they thought was ever possible. 

A housekeeper who thinks like a Navy Seal.

A housekeeper who believes, "The only easy day was yesterday."

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