Summer Rain

It’s coming up to Christmas and into summer in Australia and its the time we prepare for the happiest of times and for the saddest of times. How I love winter, I love the fact one can get warmth and be warm whilst the weather out side does it’s job, it rains… well most times it’s does. We haven’t had enough rain yet and now coming into summer on the farm is going to be another long one (hot summer) that is. There are areas all over the world that could use rain to get out of drought and poverty, Australia like other countries has them at the moment.

In the country that I live in we have had a below average rainfall, and now summer has hit in a big way – much sooner than we wanted or expected. Outside our temperature gauge hit 37 degrees celsius 98.6 F the other day in spring and this is not considered unusual, it is part of the pattern of our seasons. With these types of temperatures so soon in spring many farmers are watching their crops ripen and set seed early so many will start to harvest. It will be a tough year for farmers in the south-east of South Australia with many harvesting early and many de-stocking to reduce food load on finances.

For the croppers they are cutting crops such as canola, wheat, barley and others early due to low sub soil moisture and no back up rains. They will be expecting the livestock people to buy the hay bales. They will all be wanting a good price for their hay but in times like this where most of them will be doing it I suspect the prices won’t be there, but we’ll see.

There are many things people do when they come into summer – most women shave their legs which they have left over winter as they were either wearing stockings or trousers to hide them and many people look to the perfect spray tan to start wearing summer clothing without looking like the lighthouse beacon with lily-white legs. In the country not only do women think and do these things they also have to work off farm for income and on farm as unpaid labour, the extra pair of hands to help when it’s easier to do the job ‘now’ rather than wait for paid employees. I know many a wife who help at shearing time in the shed as a general roustabouts whilst running and maintaining everyday issues of family, school, business and even continue their part-time careers during this busy time.

Summer also brings the thought of fire, when I hear dry lightning storms I worry, when I read there is to be controlled burn offs by the Government I worry more. I prepare for fire now, after having had 2 in the last 4 years. I listen and act, everything is in place, this year though there will only be a plan for 3 dogs instead of 4 with Pete safely at rest, it has taken some of the stress off me. All fire fighting equipment is checked and at the ready something no one wants to do but is necessary in a country where fire is one of the greatest dangers in national parks and on properties.

No fires for us this year, we keep hoping for summer rain and look to the skies when it gets dark and cloudy. With 9 Fridays left till Christmas it’s time to prepare and get ready for the celebrations with family and friends.

before and after shearing

The art of email

it’s another one of those days, perhaps it’s the weather, stress from the heat, worrying about friends who have their own struggles and a dog who is aging, any way, isn’t the way some people are reflected in the way they don’t communicate any more and hide behind passive/aggressive emails? I struggle with this, I really do and I know we are all capable of sending them and we all realize that email comes with no tone and most should be taken like that and responded to the came.

But we all know about using CAPITALS in emails is akin to shouting, so when it’s done or written we know that there is tone coming from the other person (they are shouting at you) If I get this type of email I will pick up the phone and call, there is no point writing back as it will not be taken in any other way other than an aggressive response, even if you don’t mean it to be.aggressive. Sending emails that have emotive words in them, knowing you are about to upset someone is a passive aggressive and unacceptable.

But there are certain words people use that they know a) they will get a response to b) put in writing to shock you c) put in writing to start an argument and d) send you into a tail spin. Most people know when they hover over the send button that sending a derogatory email will elicit a reaction and I am always stunned when you call them they are quite shocked that you are upset. It’s much like sending a drunken text, you know you should put your phone away when drinking other than calling a taxi – it should not be in your hand with the temptation to text someone.

Sending an email without  your name on it is always an indicator that some one is not happy with you, most people sign off unless they are rude or upset. They also make a point of saying ‘you have” ‘you did or didn’t do” and claim the frustrated / hurt victim end with words such as ‘frustrate’ ‘staff complaints’ the kicker her is ‘we have” the collective general term ‘we’ rather than own their bad manners or anger ‘everybody’ (whoever they are) are dragged out onto the email. These people I have decided have a very shallow view of their importance in your life, perhaps they are having a bad day and ‘it’s your turn” or you are first on the list to receive their wrath.

Either way, don’t do it, write your email, read it back, send it to a friend for editing most people are intelligent enough to know what they are sending is going to upset the reader. Then delete it go on to the next job and come back to the original issue, then show the potential receiver the respect of giving them a call. I’m a reactor, I admit that, I’ll give it right back with word reference to your sent email and I’ll call if I am gobbed smacked by what you have written.

Don’t drink & drive, don’t text & drive, don’t drink & text I have had family members whose cars have been rear ended (and written off) by someone texting whilst they should be driving. Most times now I turn it off when I get in the car so as not to be distracted, I don’t have a modern car that will read me out an incoming text. Above all be kind to each other, there are so many worse things than someone doing something wrong – especially if they are unaware of it.

How much are you worth then?

Following on from my blog on Tuesday, I had many positive responses so obviously there is a whole lotta people out there asking for business tips and services for nothing (and it annoying the askee) the asker at this stage has not weighed in. I have had no one come and ‘defend’ their position of if you do it for free it’s good advertising for you.. hmm

So then what are you worth or I should say what is your time worth? How does one calculate their worth in dollars per hour? What is reasonable in order to get people to ‘hire’ you? In setting your goal of income and expenditure do you start with a figure in mind and work backwards? Calculating how much you need to cover bills, living expenses and carrying other people’s debts? or do you pluck a figure out of the air based on what you would like to earn and work out a rate from there? How does one put a figure on their skill and then ask people to ‘buy’ into it?

I do laser hair removal on a Wednesday (I am a Laser Certified Registered Nurse) and I do need to calculate how much per treatment I get. I travel over 100km’s (return trip) to the place I work out of – small distance in the country and then I have my over heads, so I have to cover these. I use to give out price lists but I found this puts people off, they look at a price and never contact you or speak to you again. As I am in a customer service business I now ask them to come in so I can access things such as skin colour, medical history past & present and then do a patch test. Then I assess how much I would like them to pay and then work out what that realistic figure is. As I explained to one person yesterday who came in and struggling to get her business up and running, we talk price point and I told her I barely have 10 minutes for lunch as I am so busy, she asked if I was going to get a second day and I said no. I had a shop where I was available 6 days per week and people didn’t come, so being available all of the time wasn’t good for my business, now it’s my time, my terms and I am busier than ever. I also told her that I look at the cost of living and calculate that telling someone $90 per treatment is better than $100 and it is just a figure. People can justify $90 over $100, for some reason I can say $100 and people say no where I can say $90 and I get bookings.

So as an independent consultant actively engaged in your own business is that figure $50 per hour or $45 that gets you over the line. Most people when they engage you are probably happier with $45 and that person who comes in at that will get work versus $50 is it the gst loading that make the difference? I have no idea, I just see and know a lot of talented, self-educated people struggling to get buy in from businesses that call them up and ask for ‘free information”. I have also seen that ‘free no obligation 1/2 hr consultation” used by a potential employer and then there’s no buy in after that. Should as independent consultants this time be better used with the potential consultant asking all of the questions instead of giving answers? I think so but not everybody has sales skills. Would you look at this time like you would a job interview?

It is nerve-wracking ‘selling oneself and one’s abilities” as the “proof is always in the pudding.” People who do not know you haven’t seen this proof, perhaps you should have a bio with you for these consultations, recommendations and thank you letters from people and companies you have worked for and offer these to your future ‘business’ or at least have a list of names that you could hand over that they can call to see if what you are saying and selling is what they want.

I don’t know the answers but any tip is better than going blind and waiting for a call that may never come or worse still, giving someone all of the answers and they go back to work and give YOUR information to the junior office clerk to do. This means your hourly rate has gone from $45 to $16.80, but this is what some employers do, they scope the market and ‘use’ their connections to find you, call you, pretend they will hire you and go and not look back.

So here’s the shoe on the other foot , turn the tables find your price point, develop a plan and make sure the information you give even in an interview leaves the listener with more questions than answers. Stick with what you know for that will make you more successful and happier. I go away from interviews and job prospects writing down all of the questions, mine & theirs, then put in the answers and work out next time better answers so that I appear a better proposition than the junior clerk and more value for money. What do you do? I would love to hear from some independent consultants as to their tricks to get hired.

are the words “job” and “happiness” related?

I started another blog but have decided to go down this track following a conversation with a dear friend. I have done it myself over the years and I am sure many more will get yesterdays job ads out and apply for new positions. These are changes people make to better themselves, chasing a higher income, work dissatisfaction or looking to become happier in a work place environment. Let’s face it you spend more waking hours in your job than you do with family & friends so the last place you want to feel dissatisfied is at work. 

Everybody wants people to like them, that is human nature, you make friends and these people become part of your social network. These people are like-minded so you work alongside them and socalise with them out of hours. It is much easier to work with people, than it is work alone. Mind you working from home has lots of advantages but it has similar number of disadvantages, i.e. no work place bullying v’s no strategic planning meetings or loneliness. Most people work for the income, that is undisputed and many occasions I have heard “I want more money to do what I do”,”I know if I have a pay rise I’ll be happy” and “I’m applying for a new job so I can be happy”

So the question needs to be asked, are “job” and “happiness” related? Does one need a job to be happy? or does ones job make one happy? or being happy depends on one’s job and finally happiness is job related. All these quips relate to a place of work and an emotion. Not normally wage or pay packet related. By changing one’s place of employment will this necessarily lead to a new-found happiness? Some people ‘blame’ their place of work for their unhappiness without ever looking at themselves. In some instances they can be correct, some work places can be toxic to the soul, others can be up lifting. I think we all go to find the up lifting one’s we aim for happiness at work so we can come home to forget about it, to regale others with stories that make you laugh. Working gives you independence, not only financially, but mentally stimulates one into thinking & achieving. All this is dependant upon being happy, interactive and most importantly being kind.

It is ok to seek new horizons and it is also ok once you get there to think it was a terrible mistake and then look further afield. This generation move from job to job without the strings of loyalty attached. My generation stay, out of loyalty and normally look for change only move if we relocate from our homes, need a change in our financial circumstances i.e. Divorce, go actively seeking a better place of work and opportunity. But if you are unhappy and this doesn’t change when you get to the new work place them you must look inside yourself to see if you are the change that needs to happen. Say often and loudly, I need help, I thank you for your assistance but remember a job won’t give you happiness but it can be the path to much better things.