Saturday, May 24, 2008

Day Zero

My new employees and I just spent two weeks training in preparation for my new store's opening. It was a good process, with lots of team-building opportunities built into the process. Since all but one of my new staff members are under 20, and all are female, it was not a difficult process to see these people draw together.

Tuesday is day one. While I'm sure it will be a very, very busy day, we're probably lucky that it's a holiday week, because that will keep us from being as busy as we would have been if we'd opened in, say, mid-November.

Each manager in my department is included in a weekend and holiday rotation: our department works every day. Since my store opens Tuesday, I had volunteered to work Memorial Day. Realistically, I'd probably go in anyway, if only to open up the store so the new employees could have a little more practice time (which all of them want), and to do some prep work so Tuesday morning would go more smoothly. Of course, I'll probably regret that decision come 4:00 Monday morning, when the alarm sounds and I have to get to work before 5:00.

It's been a hard two months. I've worked more twelve-plus hour days in the past month than I had, combined, in my life. Arriving at work around 6:30 to get the old store ready to open, working in the store until training started, attending training, checking on the old store, back to training, catching up on the "desk" part of my job (which has been sorely neglected), then checking on the old store before I go home (and usually sticking around to clean it better than it was left by the person who's been helping out), getting home between 5:30-7:00. It's tiring.

My saving grace has been Craig. Not only has he worked (as a temp) in my old store for two weeks (and done as much cleaning as he could, given that he still had to pick up the kids from school at the same time the store closed), he's also planned and cooked every meal served in our house for at least the past two weeks, kept the laundry in check, and been very patient with my obsessive behavior and conversation. He's letting me eat, sleep, and breathe coffee and staffing and retail and shift planning, and even tolerated my going out for drinks with colleagues more than once this week (if I can't see them in the office, I at least get some face time on hotel rooftops and discos).

Here's the thing. It's going very well. Eyes are on me right now, professionally. I took on a failing venture and turned it around. And now I have the opportunity to not just "not fail" but to succeed, quite visibly. This store will be the social center of the hospital. Its success will be credited to me. Its failure will be on my shoulders. I don't have any doubt that the next few months will make or break my career, or at least this portion of it. And given the past few months' successes (33% increase in sales from March to April, and May looks to be at least as good, if not better), I feel like I'm up to the challenge. I've created some good partnerships in other departments (this is me waving to the directors of security and design and construction), and I think that's going to be crucial to my continued success.

I can't help but think back a few years, when my professional life, if you could even call it that, was absolutely the least of my priorities. I worked because I had to, for money and insurance, and I watched the clock all day. All I wanted was to collect my paycheck and go home.

Even though this month has been hard, it's been great. I'm having a fantastic time. I wake up excited about the upcoming day. I go to bed bone-tired. But it's stimulating and challenging and feels like exactly what I was born to do.


Melissa said...

That is really cool!

You have a great husband too. All spouses should be so supportive.


kalisa said...

Today's iced grande no-whip mochoa tastes exactly like the ones I get in my neighborhood every morning. Well Done!

Anonymous said...

Hey K,

I need a current email for you. I am trying to send you n email but it keeps bouncing back.


jennifer wm

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