Saturday, August 12, 2006

Work (its a long one, but a gem at the end)

I have had the most insane two weeks ever. I am still in disbelief that I have survived. This was a learning experience about me too because I am astounded at what I can do. And I am still trying to figure out what it was that made me driven.

I manage a discipline division in a branch office for a consulting firm.
Our company has "practice" leads who are responsible for business development, like the BIG stuff, for each of the (7) disciplines under which the company provides services.

A month ago we decided to pursue a proposal for a gov entity, and decided that we didn't have enough local experience to lead the effort. This was the most complicated proposal I have ever seen. Printing out the documents ended up as a foot-high of paper. I was confused trying to read through it and roped someone else into doing that for me.

I had been talking to another company with some experience and they agreed to take the lead.
We brought on 2 more companies - one with local experience in the NW (which neither of us had), and another firm that currently holds a contract for this work (we'll refer to them as Incumbant).

Three weeks before the proposal was due we had a kick-off meeting in our office and delegated the preparation to the appropriate people. Later that week, the lead firm sent us a document outlining all of the data they wanted us to send them. I had a week to pull it together. It involved filling out forms that had been created by the Gov, sending documents to existing clients asking them to give us references, having all the technical people in my firm do these resumes forms, and begging everyone to turn everything around in a week (5 days that is).
I emailed off all my data, got on a plane, and went to Chicago to celebrate a friend's birthday.

As soon as we got to Chicago, I got a call from the lead firm telling me Incumbant had pulled out of our team and they were going to stop the effort because they didn't think we could be successful without Incumbant.

I was sitting in a restaurant awaiting my first meal of the day (long story, but we hadn't eaten since waking up), 7 hours, a flight, train, and cab, after waking up.

What the muthafucking fuck!

I was STRESSED! This opportunity is HUGE! So I called a couple of people, told them what was going on, and gave them tasks to get us back on track with the intent of picking up the pieces on Monday.
1. can we be the lead?
2. can we find another firm to do the CA work 9 days before our "print" deadline?

Well - it was a fun weekend; we got home at 10pm on Sunday (that means no laundry, no shopping, no errands before work on Mon).
We got another firm to do CA, I got those practice leads to agree that we could take the lead, and I went into Hyper-Super-Lisa mode.
I worked from 7am - 8pm everyday that week
I worked from 7am - 11pm on Sat and Sun
I worked from 7am - 1am on Mon - Tues
(I am NOT an allnighter person - three degrees with no allnighter and I'm not going to start now)
and when I say worked I mean - sat with my computer on my lap and two phones at my side. Periodically Greg would bring me food on a plate and fill my water glass.
We printed on Tues.
Every one of those days I had to convince the 3 Practice Leads working with me that we could get it done and have a "quality product". This meant that between writing, editing, nagging subs to give me data NOW, I had to negotiate with 3 TOP people every couple of hours. And mostly, the resolve was that I would agree to take on more of the work - which meant more writing, editing, nagging subs. It got to the point where I couldn't think of words anymore in conversation. If someone started talking to me about something that didn't apply to this proposal, I would walk away; when someone (I knew well) asked me a question, the only sentences that could come out were like this:
"I asked him to look at those fucking things, and put them into that other fucking thing so that the fucking fucks would be ready for the other people in the morning"
If people told me "no", I would look at them blankly and say "ok, I'll get that from you in an hour".

I realize in retrospect that the work alone would have exhausted me, but what put me over the edge was the emotional negotiating, and carrying all of those people along.

Everyday, I would come home and say to Greg, I think this is only happening because of me. I think I am "selling" all these people on bogus reasons to continue because I am being determined.

I decided that it was my drive that was going to get us to the end.
And it did.
Those 3 people, and the poor proposal person who agreed to pull it together into that "quality document" all said to me at one point over the weekend - "I wouldn't still be working on this if it weren't for you".

I felt like I had won something, accomplished something HUGE by the time I got the fedex confirmation of delivery - and then I realized.

I still had to wait to see IF we would be AWARDED a contract for this to be a success!!!

God dammit! all that effort, all that work, and I still don't even know if its going to mean work for my firm!

I know that I have a reputation of being demanding, a "bitch", not very nice and all that, and I think I've written in this blog that I believe it is because people don't expect women to act direct, frank, bottom-line, honest (you know, those MEN traits), and so they don't expect me. But when people get to know me, and they see what I can do, and they see what THEY can do when they are working with me, they realize that I am good!
But in this effort, I wonder if I pushed some people away.
I always console myself when I have that thought by following it with
"yeah, but, I bet some other people REALLY respect me now!!"

The really shitty thing about all of this, is that I had to get this old before I realized what my strengths were and how I can leverge them. I think I am in the wrong industry, the wrong position, for my powers to be truly utilized. I don't know if its too late for me to figure out the best place to put myself, this is a thought I ponder more than any other. I also realize that I have less energy than I did when I was younger - obviously - but if I was in a position like the one I pulled off last week when I was younger, I would have ROCKED!!!! because I would have had energy. I haven't worked out, I haven't danced, I haven't called or talked to anyone socially. When I was younger, I probably could have fit that in too.

Anyway - that's where I have been for the past two, actually three weeks.


deetour said...

U need a raise!!!

Aaron Stiner said...

Congratulations on standing in your power Lisa - nice job!

Did you find out yet if you were awarded the work? Either way, you did your best =)