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August 6, 2011
Gone Corporate: 'Managing Perceptions'
I guess I should have known it would go this way. It’s CORPORATE, for gosh sakes.

I just want a job where I write stuff I’m proud of, for clients who understand the value of written communication, for a company that appreciates me and what I can do for them.

I’m not one to play politics or the blame game or any of that usual corporate B.S. I think it’s unethical, unprofessional, and just plain wrong as a human being. Naturally, this makes me a poor fit for Corporate World. (Of course, Agency World has kicked me out a couple times, but those were economically driven decisions.)

Setting the Scene: As of this writing, I’m still employed. But the company has — despite amazing growth — been conducting about a layoff a week for the past month.

It’s become clear that a person or people in the Marketing department is speaking ill of me to the VP. So that means that my supervisor (Director-level) was tasked with telling me to make sure I’m in by 9:00 a.m. and “managing perceptions” of myself.

Possible Translation #1: Somebody who arrives earlier than me (my commute is horrible, I have a chronic illness, my kids cling to my legs, and other excuses) has whined that I get to show up late. But the truth is that I barely take a 20-minute lunch (usually at my desk), and I’m still at the office WAY after most people have gone. Tonight, I was there until 6:50 p.m., and 95% of the company was long gone.

Possible Translation #2: The Big Boss (the one who “used to be a copywriter” from a few columns ago), who is now reviewing everything that comes out of Marketing, has expressed distaste for my writing style. He has also had a temper tantrum directed at the VP, who is the one who told my supervisor to talk to me. I’m guessing that the VP, fearing for his/her job, is setting me up for a possible layoff.

Man, that sounds paranoid and backbite-y and everything I detest about Corporate World. And heck, Agency World wasn’t and isn’t perfect, or even that much closer to perfect. But most agencies don’t raise an eyebrow over your arrival and departure unless you’re grossly over/under the bounds of normalcy and your work gets done on time and with the right amount of creativity and strategy.

It just makes me furious to have to play this game. I’m keeping a roof over our heads and food on the table and health insurance and all that good stuff. But life is short, and I’m not going to spend much more of it working for other people — much less working with “colleagues” who throw others under the bus.

The Bottom Line: If you can make it on your own — whether you’re freelancing, running your own company, or independently wealthy because Weird Uncle Gary left you his rare gold-encrusted stapler collection — then do it. Because working for others in Corporate World, Agency World, or Waterworld (damn you, Kevin Costner) just plain sucks.

It’s sure as heck antithetical to producing good work and enjoying life. And that’s what I want for myself and my dear readers. (That means you.)

I always like to say that we need to “find what we love and what we’re good at, then find a way to make a living at it.” I can say with 100% assurance that hanging out in Corporate World doesn’t fit into that equation at all.

Thanks for reading.

Preemptive Responses to Various Commenters:
—Yes, I’m whining.
—Of course I’m grateful to be employed...for now.
—I know that being at the office by 9AM is standard for most workers. Between my health conditions, my kids, and my commute, it’s just very difficult to get that done on a daily basis.
—Sorry, ladies, I’m married.

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After a year of creative incarceration in Corporate World, your beloved Corporate Hack finally distracted the guards, outran the bloodhounds and scaled the wall to make his escape. Now that he’s back where he belongs in Ad World, he’s re-branded himself as The Inside Man...but he’s still having Ad-Verse Reactions. 
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