Libby On the Job

Temporarily Yours

I just finished up a three-month temporary work gig. I’ve temped at other times of my life, and while it’s a great way to fill in gaps when you need it, it can also be stressful: being new and unfamiliar with the organization, not getting enough work, not getting the right kind of work, being ignored and feeling awkward in the break room, etc.

Not this time – this experience was 100% awesome, and, while I’m glad to be moving on to something more substantive and permanent, I’m going to miss it. What made this time different?

  • Connections: I got the gig not through an agency, but through a friend I made in a professional capacity who needed the help due to a vacant position. As a result, there was already a level of trust and respect there that might not have been if I had come randomly through an agency.
  • Tasks: How many of us – as full or part-time professionals – have the luxury of getting a task and then working on it through to completion? Or how often do you have work that doesn’t have a real immediate and VERY IMPORTANT deadline? In my experience, those are both pretty rare things.
  • Brain Food: In addition, I was getting both ends of the task spectrum: data entry and strategic planning. That is also rare – too much of either one can make your brain hurt. As The Temp, I was given things that had piled up due to higher priority deadlines, or nice ideas that no one had the time to purse. What a bonus for me!
  • People: Folks at this organization were very friendly. One, it was made pretty clear that I was there for a very specific amount of time, so no one felt threatened that I was there to take their job, and two, they’re just nice people! They welcomed me, invited me to participate in staff activities, said hello every day and got my jokes. It was a very warm environment.
  • Thanks: People really were grateful for my help, and I was actually helping (which helps!), which made it that much better. But more than that, they made a point to tell me that – by not only giving more to do, but also verbally expressing thanks. That sounds a little silly, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to do that.

This opportunity came at a time of transition for me as well as for them: I helped parts of the organization grow while adding to my own professional development; I relieved some of their professional stress, and they offered me some financial stability; I provided some fresh ideas and perspectives on changes and opportunities and they offered support and friendship. I thank them for bringing me into their fold and remain forever temporarily and most sincerely theirs. Have you thanked your temp today?

– Libby Bingham

Awesomeness in the World Libby


I’m on a mild hiatus from full-time work this summer (I’m still doing some work to help pay the mortgage, but I don’t have to go to the office every day), so I’ve been trying to take advantage of my time and clean the house. Not the standard cleaning (I actually get some help with that), but the deep cleaning – the cleaning of drawers, closets, nooks and crannies.

It’s harder to do than I thought – I really thought that I’d grown less attached to stuff, especially that which I don’t see very often. But not so. I think because I haven’t seen it in a while, when I pull it out, it’s a flood of memories – anything from my grandmother to my childhood to a fun time with friends. And it’s hard to throw out memories.

Recently, there was an episode of Real Housewives of NYC (part of my hiatus, don’t judge) and Sonja was trying to clean out her basement. She had to enlist friends to come help her get rid of stuff because everything she pulled out reminded her of when her children were little and she was married and they were a happy family. I get that, and even if your life is totally different now, getting rid of stuff from back in the day can make it feel like you’re giving away bits of yourself.

Of course, this isn’t true – your memories are in your brain, not your basement. I tell myself that all the time. And, for me, I’m done growing my family – why am I holding on to random baby stuff? Or furniture that literally does not fit in my house? It’s time to move on. But how?

I think books have been written about this, but here are some tactics that work for me:

  1. Reminisce: As you clean, tell the stories that go along with the items. Share how your grandmother used to take you out for fancy tea when you were six and also bought you your own tea set. Go ahead and remember where in the house that table used to be when you were in 7th grade and you spilled paint on it. Send an email to your brother of you wearing that t-shirt he made for your 16th birthday.
  2. Find new homes: Some things are hard to let go of from a sentimental perspective and some are just in good enough shape that you might just still use them. I might start juicing/espresso making/pasta making one day.  If you’re holding on to some girl-baby things and your uterus is closed for business, think about passing them on to a friend, cousin or good friend. You may know yourself well-enough to know you won’t use a Depression Era punch bowl, but by golly, your neighbor down the street is crazy for the stuff. And when you give it to the designated receiver, share your stories with them – it gives the gift more meaning and life.
  3. Need: There are a lot of people in need of lots of things. Even if it can’t go to a hand-picked home, there are still lots of folks who will use and appreciate what you can offer through a donation organization. It’s not a bad way to go.
  4. A picture is worth 1,000 words: I’ve been taking pictures of some stuff before I toss, donate or give it away. This way, I can still have that same feeling of remembering something when I come across the picture instead of the item. It’s also a great way to get back in touch with family and friends – chances are they remember that lamp/glass/shirt/toy with fondness, too.

I’m not claiming victory over marginal hoarding, but I’m making incremental progress. I figure that what I’m really doing is making room for new memories. And then I’ll just give all my stuff to my son when (and if) he moves into his own home…along with a copy of my blog. Good luck with your cleaning and enjoy your memories!

– Libby Bingham

Awesomeness in the World Libby

Family Beach Vacation

We just got back from a family vacation at the beach…it was so nice and relaxing:

  1. No cooking: So we stayed in a hotel which meant that we had to eat all our meals out – so nice not to have to shop and cook…or clean up!
  2. No rules:  Being on a break from our regular routine means we don’t have to adhere to our standard rules and regulations – late bedtimes, more sweets, wearing whatever we want, more sweets…
  3. Togetherness: During the school year, I often feel like relaxing means being alone (or at least away from my family), but this vacation we were all about togetherness and it was nice to truly enjoy each other’s company.
  4. Fun: Rather than parsing out our fun having, we just let it all rip and had extra fun stuff every day: beach, roller coasters, arcades, unhealthy food, boardwalk games, movies – why wait until Friday?!
  5. Friendly: We were all so relaxed, we were so much more friendly to each other – less parental nagging, less spousal snapping and many more fart jokes.

What is it about being away that makes all these things possible? Why can’t we be as easy and breezy with each other when we’re at home? I’m pretty sure we can be, but I can’t say I’ve mastered the art of getting anywhere close to replicating the feelings of lightness that I have when I’m “away from it all.” I think that’s something to strive for throughout the year, keeping the spirit of vacation in my heart all year ‘round. I’ll probably fail, but I can get closer; if we all make an effort and collectively make headway, I think out time together will be special no matter where and when we are…that’s some memory-making!

– Libby Bingham

Awesomeness in the World Libby


Here are the top five things I love about summer:

  1. Relaxation: Once school is out, it seems that everyone – kids and adults alike – has shifted into relaxation mode. It’s weird – I see it in parents, co-workers, friends and myself. It’s like a switch has been flipped and suddenly people slow down and are friendlier, not any less busy, really, but with a different laid-back type of attitude. I love it and it’s contagious!
  2. Daylight:  It’s so awesome that it stays lighter out longer – it makes it seem like you actually have time to get things done (maybe that’s why we’re feeling more relaxed!). I’m pretty sleepy in general, but having it still light out at 8/8:30 gives me the extra boost I need to stay up until 9 or so…night owl – hoot, hoot!
  3. Music: Not only do I hear music everywhere – in the downtown common area, out of houses, in cars – but it’s all the catchy stuff. I think they wait until summer to release the catchiest, ear wormiest of pop, and the oldies bring back those summer memories from long ago.
  4. Food: Summer has great food – all that fresh produce, seasonal beers and drinks, grilling…awesome! And when it’s hot, it’s hard to overeat – it’s a lot easier to eat healthier in the summer (which is helpful for getting into that bathing suit).
  5. Family: Whether they’re your blood relatives or friends that feel like family, summertime is always the time when gatherings happen organically, when busy people can come together to relax, eat, and listen to music into the evenings…it’s fun and friendly.

What are you doing this summer?  See you at the pool!

– Libby Bingham

Career Libby

New Kid on the Block

I have started a new job. Technically, I don’t start for a few more months, but I’ve been offered and hired and already sent to a meeting.  It was great, this meeting; it is a terrific way to get the lay of the land. It also made me very aware of my “new kid” status.

I was at my last job for over eleven years so not much was new to me, but now everything is new – it’s slightly disconcerting but it’s also very exciting.

  • Lingo: All the jargon and lingo for this organization is new to me – it’s a new industry full of new acronyms and terminology. I got lost about ten minutes into the conversation but kept jotting down everything I didn’t know – I’ve got a laundry list but it’ll be fun to cross each one off as I learn!
  • Reputation: I came from an organization where a lot of the staff where actually members – to them, I probably seem like some kind of anomaly in their midst. I am not sure of my reputation. I know that I’m held in high esteem by upper management, my new boss, but I’m not sure about my peers: Did they like my work? Did they learn from me in the past? Was my style collegial or off-putting?
  • Relationships: The staffer running the meeting seemed hesitant to have me there at first – maybe there was concern that I’d try to interfere or insert myself. It all ended up fine in the end: he welcoming, me complimentary.  But it was a reminder of the process that I’m going to have to go through to get to know people and have them get to know me: gaining trust is not an easy road…it takes hard work and a sensitive eye.
  • Work ethic: In my old job, it was (until the end) a situation where everyone knew I would get my work done and do it well. I don’t have that level of trust yet so I think that means I’ve got to work harder than ever before. My position is virtual, and aside from a few meetings, I haven’t been required to physically go in to the office – it’s my choice to go in once a week for staff meetings. I think it’s important to have that face time to build trust and new relationships, observe how I interact with people, understand that the job is important to me and that I’m a team player.

It’s been a long time since I’ve been the new kid on the block, but I’m going to do whatever it takes to make sure they know I’ve got the right stuff.

– Libby Bingham

Awesomeness in the World Libby

Good Enough

Last week, I was listening to my favorite podcast, Dear Sugar, and they brought up the phrase “good enough” in terms of parenting. It’s a topic that they talk about often, how we (mostly as Americans) are obsessed with being “perfect” parents and how trying to attain perfection is, at least, impossible and, at most, destructive (this is my takeaway – they’re much more nuanced and articulate). It is beneficial for all involved – especially for the child! – for us to embrace the idea of simply being good enough. I thought I might try to apply the concept to our professional selves, as well.

My friend is super stressed about her job – she has a new boss who is micromanaging projects that my friend has been managing for over ten years – it is wreaking havoc with her schedule, her self-esteem and professional confidence. We’ve talked a few times about how it may be time to think about doing something else and moving on. Each time, however, she says she has SO much to do and she doesn’t want to do less than her best, and as a result, she has no time to save herself.

My question is why? Why do we feel compelled to be terrific/great/perfect at everything? Why is being a B student such a terrible thing? Another friend has edified me about the 80/20 rule – if we can get to 80%, call it done and stop obsessing about the remaining 20%. I’m not saying we should phone it in, but if I decide to put in 80% of the effort at work, I’ll have another 20% to put towards my son, my husband, self-care, friends, my aging parents, etc. And that 80% isn’t some ordinary 80%, it’s still kickass and worthwhile, it just doesn’t suck the life right out of me leaving nothing left for other things I care about.

I think it would be nice if we changed the dialogue a little bit, or at least the t-shirts:

  • World’s Most Okay Mom
  • I’m #2

Look, this might not be my best blog post, but I think it is good enough.

P.S. A belated happy birthday shout-out to my childhood friend, Susie…hope your day is beautiful, friend!

– Libby Bingham

Career Libby

Being Bossy

I’ve been reflecting on what it takes to be a good boss. First of all, I know it’s not easy, but it’s probably the most important component of any successful and satisfying career or professional experience. Ask someone about a negative experience with a job and chances are good you’ll get a lot of emotional reminiscing about a particular boss – the memories are still vivid and can evoke stress even years later. I think we all know a “bad” boss when we experience it, but what are the attributes of a “good” one? Certainly it will vary from person to person, but here are a few that I feel are universal:

  1. They respect you. Respect can be shown in a myriad of ways, but it is the one thing that is critical for a successful professional relationship. As a worker, you must feel like your work product is valued and contributes to the goals of the organization.
  2. They see you as an individual. Everyone is different and a good boss will be able differentiate how to interact with each of their staff in a way that works for that individual. It is an important skill to be able to understand how people are motivated and what is important to them – this is where you can find areas of commonality which can strengthen commitment.
  3. They support your professional development. A supervisor who wants your skills to grow is both a sign of respect and a way of telling you that you are a valued member of the team. Not only does it help them achieve their goals, but it makes it more appealing to stay part of the team for a longer time. Insecurity about seeing someone improve their skills – or even learn something the boss doesn’t know – is not conducive to building relationships.
  4. They trust you. Trust is a tricky thing – it has to be earned, but there have to be opportunities given in order for people to show they’re trustworthy…tough! But this is a foundational piece to working with someone, and therefore important to cultivate. In this case, perception is just as important reality.
  5. They listen to you. A professional relationship is not a one-way street. It is critical that a supervisor can listen to, seek out and value your ideas and opinions. If you don’t feel like your views are important, what’s the point?

When you have a truly respectful relationship where both parties feel smart, valued and equitable, the results can be amazing – work can actually be fun! It is important for supervisors to feel secure and to take the time to get to know their staff. When they can model good practices, find out what’s important to you and to be honest, the relationship can grow over time and reap benefits for both parties.

– Libby Bingham

Libby On the Job


Our department is under renovation – not the fun, pick out paint and wallpaper type. It’s the stressful, difficult reorganizational type.

We have a couple holes where staff have recently left. Getting all the work done is hard, especially alongside lots of new projects and endeavors. But our boss has been very strategic in her approach to filling spots and identifying ways to make the most of things.

It’s exciting but also nerve-wracking – I agree with her approach and think it is a smart way to align what we’re doing with the rest of the organization. But we haven’t been involved with the decision making, and people are thinking, “Where do I fit in?” “Which box is mine?” Additionally, there is the added wrench of one opportunity for a little bit of professional growth. The internal candidates are small in number – more than one vying for one spot. Let the hunger games begin!

I joke, but I do feel like there’s potential for discomfort – what happens after the decision is made? How do the people who don’t get a promotion move forward? How might the overall team dynamic change? Will it be helpful or harmful? How can we ensure a shift like this will be a positive experience for the team? How will this change be managed, and can discomfort be mitigated?

There is a team dynamic at play that could make or break us as a department – I only hope we’re resilient, supportive and flexible enough to embrace the change and make it work for everyone. And while I obviously have lots of questions, I also have lots of hope. I’m looking forward to being a part of these changes and doing what I can to ensure my voice is heard.

– Libby Bingham

Inside My Head Libby


I just found out that my co-worker’s grandmother just died. She was – understandably – wrecked and had to leave work. Today, we are all sharing thoughts with her to show support and it got me thinking about my own grandmothers and what I learned from them:

  1. Always have a good time. My maternal grandmother was a party girl – my earliest memories of her revolve around entertaining: hams, turkeys, bloody marys, smoking and swing music. While my mother has a different view of things, to me it was always an environment of joy, celebration and friendship. The warmth she exuded while entertaining was the same whether the house was full of people or just the two of us. Either way, she taught me that it’s important to have fun with the people you love.
  2. If all else fails, make fudge. My paternal grandmother was not the warm and fuzzy type. She was serious, cranky and distant…we had very little in common. But we still managed to connect on a very basic level: she made the best fudge ever. She may not have been able to hug and snuggle me, but that fudge let me know how much she loved me. (That and her mac ‘n cheese…yum…)
  3. A place of refuge. When I was in college, times were tough for my family; we were going through a lot. I didn’t know or understand the extent of things, but I did know that my parents had a series of difficult decisions and there was a lot of stress. My grandmother stepped in with the option for me to live with her. She wasn’t one for heart-to-hearts, but she offered me a place to decompress and process in peace.
  4. Music is important. With both grandmothers, music played a role in our relationships. At both houses, there was always music in the background (my paternal grandfather was a drummer in a Dixieland band). When we would arrive at my grandmother’s house, she would direct us upstairs to “put on your suits” and go get into the pool – she had an old “boom box” that she’d put in the window from the kitchen and blast swing music while we swam. They were both one-woman audiences for all our shows and musicals. They taught me songs that I sing to my own children.

I am under no delusion that my grandmothers were perfect, or that they were even good mothers. But they were important people in my life, people who offered support, guidance, a way out and love…to me, they are wonderful foundational pieces of my childhood and my adulthood. I thank them for all they were capable of giving and for giving it – I think that might be the most important lesson: giving something is better than giving nothing…the smallest things can end up being bigger than you’d ever think possible!

– Libby Bingham

Career Libby


My friend recently went on a job interview. It was a group interview, just her and five staff people sitting around a table…gulp! That’s fairly intimidating, but she said it all went well…until the last question:

“If you were interviewing you for this position, what would be your biggest concern about your taking the job?”

That’s basically code for what is your biggest weakness. How do you respond to that? She said she came up with something clever and somehow turned it into a positive (lots of bobbing and weaving!). And that’s exactly what you have to do, right? In life – especially at work – you constantly have to turn a negative into a positive, continually finding ways to overcome areas in which you do not excel.

But you can’t let your weakness define you – if you do that, you’ll never move forward. If you can’t answer that question by spinning it into a positive, game over. Maybe it’s a little cheesy, but a “weakness” is simply an opportunity to learn new things and build your skills. If you look at it as a flaw, you’ll never stretch and grow. Yes, it’s true that introspection is difficult, but the rewards of overcoming your weak spots are what will propel you into awesomeness. And get you the job.

– Libby Bingham