Thursday, August 30

In Praise Of Penelope

Oh, there are so many rewarding things about being a reporter: the fast cars, the fat wads of cash, the many houses at which I throw lavish parties to impress my legions of adoring friends!

For me, though, the most rewarding thing about being a reporter is that it's one of the few jobs that regularly introduces you to brilliant people in a variety of different fields from around the country.

If you're lucky, you build a strong working relationship with smart, trusted sources whom you really like and admire -- such as Penelope Trunk.

Trunk's a career advice columnist and blogger. She's the author of "Brazen Careerist." I discovered her writing on the Internet and liked it right away because she seemed to understand what life is like when you're trapped in a cubicle. She didn't tell people to put their blind faith in the HR department. She wrote about finding a way to integrate your personal passions into your career goals.

I first interviewed Penelope for what I had planned to be a conventional Q&A. When I got back to the office, I scrapped the plans for conventional daily story and used the material for a full-page Monday business centerpiece focusing on Trunk's advice for members of the Millennial generation now entering the work force -- and dispelling the bad advice those people may be getting from their well intentioned (but ill advised) Baby Boomer parents. The Q&A ran as a sidebar.

The most important thing I learned from that first interview with Penelope is that the different generations in the work force today -- the young Millennials, the aging Baby Boomers, and the Generation Xers like me sandwiched in the middle -- all have different expectations about careers, life, family and success. Those dynamics are transforming the work force drastically. Now, thanks to Penelope's wisdom, I feel that all of the stories I've been writing about the changing working environment are part of a larger, more important narrative.

I've quoted Penelope in two or three more stories since that original article, and we've volleyed a fair number of e-mail messages back and forth. Our e-mail exchanges never fail to make me laugh. In our last exchange, I congratulated her on her recent success in placing stories in "Time" and "Wired." I joked that pretty soon I'd see her byline in "Guns & Ammo."

Then I came up with some possible stories she could pitch:

-- Where do you wear your concealed weapon when your employer adopts a casual dress policy?
-- Handguns or rifles: what today's most effective managers are using
-- Promoting productivity with pistols
-- If you accidentally shoot someone, is it too late to exchange business cards with them?

I'm quoting Penelope in a story that's scheduled to run Monday. The interview is complete, and the article is already written.

(Oh, the story running Monday has nothing to do with firearms or ammunition. It's about non-gun-related career changes.)

1 comment:

Elise Gres said...

Penelope's fantastic! Not least of all because she inspired you to write this article, which I can't wait to see. But also, I would be not in the least surprised if she were able to offer top-notch advice on the guns-n-biz-card questions. Hope you're feeling better! :) elise

ps: Also, I think you and Britt should buy a plain onesy and use markers - wait, no, puffy paint - to write Craps Master on it. You should take photos of Ryland in it and email it to various t-shirt design companies. There could be a new side career for you in the slogan business...