Learn How!

Since it’s the weekend – and if you read this blog very often you know I don’t really do weekends but I’m stuck on a plane with no wifi and the wordpress app, so it’s time for Mama AnnMaria’s Advice on Life. Try to control your excitement.


Learn how! I mean it. I don’t know how many times I have had the same person ask me the same question over and over. I’m not referring to clients here – they pay me to answer their questions. Complaining about that would be like a waitress complaining people want her to bring them stuff. It’s my job. What does irritate me is everyone else – people I don’t even know who send me an email, people I used to work with, third cousins – basically, anyone who isn’t paying me.

I’ll explain why. As an adult member of society, you are expected to be independent. The meaning of that is “not dependent” as in not depending on me, your roommate or your mom to act as half of your brain.

Here are some things you should be able to figure out how to do by the time you are an adult, by which I mean 18 years old.

  1. Download email using webmail
  2. Edit an image using some kind of software
  3. Write sentences that begin with a capital letter and end in some form of punctuation.
  4. Use Google docs, Microsoft Office, dropbox, Adobe reader and similar software your employer or school might require
  5. Manage your money so you know if you have enough to pay for things you promised to pay
  6. Understand that if you sign a contract, first you READ it so you know what is in it and then you DO what’s in it because that’s the nature of contracts
  7. Handle your own travel arrangements
  8. If you own it – car, computer, cell phone, furnace, whatever – deal with getting it repaired

If you get a new computer and it has OpenOffice or Libre Office instead of Microsoft – figure it out! The two aren’t that different. Don’t complain to me that you know Word and Pages or Google Docs has different features. So what? Adapt! I think Darwin said that was the key to survival and if you can’t even handle a switch from an iPhone to Android without calling me three times your odds in the evolutionary scheme aren’t looking too good.

Imagine yourself as Bob in this scenario,

Bob is traveling to Atlanta next week. He does not know what time his flight is, the hotel he is staying in, how to get a travel advance for the meeting. When he arrives at the hotel (magically), he does not know how to print his boarding pass. When he gets to the meeting (magically), he does not know how to connect the projector to his laptop nor how to get his presentation installed on the laptop, including getting the movie which is a key part of the presentation to run. What should Bob do?

Here is a quick test to see if you are independent, if anywhere in this scenario you imagine yourself calling me, your mom or your one friend who is really good with computers, you are NOT independent. How you work things out is not as important as the fact that you do it by your grown-up self.

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Let’s take the presentation example. When I go somewhere, I bring a copy of my presentation on a flash drive. I also save it on Google drive because if the event has Internet access and an event laptop, I can download it. If they don’t have Internet, I have it on the flash drive. In case they don’t have a laptop, I save the presentation on it and  bring my laptop WITH A CONNECTOR for the projector since I have a Mac and not always does the event have the right cable. If they have not told me in advance they have a projector (or even if they have, if it’s super-important) I bring my own projector.

You know why I have all of those bases covered? Because I figured it out in advance. And don’t even get me started on the “Dude, I forgot!”

Too late.  You forget something once, it’s an honest mistake. Everyone makes one. You forget something twice and it’s a coincidence. The third time, it’s a pattern. Don’t be “that guy”. If everyone else can make the meeting, conference call, deadline despite LA traffic, computer problems and Internet outages, you can too.

Let me fill you in on something  – the real grown-ups in the office DO mind that you are always calling and asking them to install a new operating system, help download a new printer driver, contact the bank about your direct deposit or whatever it is. You know why they know how to do these things? Because they figured it out.

You should, too.

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