September 3, 2007
Calling All Moms:
Join the Cause to End the Corporate Book Club
Let me start by
saying that whenever a new project or opportunity is presented to me, I
always embrace it. I have an open mind, an open heart and I try to learn
from every experience. So about a year ago, when my company came up with
the idea to have corporate book clubs, I was all about it.
‘What a fantastic
way to learn from others,’ I thought. “I’m sure I’ll gain amazing
insight that helps me do my job,” I said to myself. I read the first
book. I enjoyed it. In nerd-like fashion, I even put little Post-It
flags on all the important pages. I was prepared.
Now, 10 months
later, I just hope it goes away.
But I did learn
something. I am a book club snob. My first book club, in college, was of
a highly academic nature. We read books about the Kennedy conspiracy,
and spent hours debating. After I moved to a new city, I joined a
liberal women’s book club. More conspiracies. More debate.
I moved again, and
this time, joined an online book club with some of my old college
friends. This one was quite eclectic. We shifted – gracefully, I might
add – from “The Lexus the Olive Tree” to “Marley and Me”,
but there was something about the absence of camaraderie that made me
leave, seeking a face-to-face alternative.
I soon found it. And
it’s a good one. We’re all busy moms with jobs, who rarely spend time
away from our cubicles or our kids – not because we’re tied to them, but
because we actually enjoy them. The jobs. The kids. The “dream” of
having it all, even though the dream can sometimes prove more of a
nightmare. We read and talk about what it’s like to be a woman in Iraq.
And talk about our sanity, and what helps us keep – and sometimes,
regain – it.
And then, it’s back
to the corporate book club. First, there is no wine or Triscuit crackers
with cheese. Strike one against the corporate book club. Second, there
are no debates. I mean, who can argue with a sales guru who says that
voicemails and phone calls shouldn’t be boring. Excuse the expression,
but, “Duh!” It’s also hard to argue with a corporate culture guru who
says large companies need to embrace the power of user-driven online
media. If “duh” had an adjective, I would use it here.
strikes and you’re out. That was two. And it’s pretty easy to come up
with a third. Take your pick:
the club has more important meetings to attend. No, not just ones they
imagine are more important. Ones that actually are much more
already working 10-hour days, or more. We don’t want to read something
that makes us think about work when we’re not there.
wearing business clothes.
are no couches or oversized pillows or armrests.
cheese. No drinks. Oh wait, I already said that!
So, companies of the
world, I implore you. Forbid such forced socialization. Rather, hire
employees who naturally seek the counsel of other experts, in other
departments, when they need to and aren’t too proud to do so. Be brave!
Eliminate your corporate book clubs. Instead, encourage employees to
come up with their own “aha!” ideas for change and improvement. And
actually use some of them.
Finally, keep in
mind that when I’m in a book club, I’d rather be learning to run my
life, not my sales force. I’d rather laugh out loud – a lot. I’d rather
decide to do something about a social injustice – with other people who
are passionate about it, too. I’d rather talk with people from other
companies who really can share insight on how to do things differently.
And I’ll admit, it
helps that they can also tell me how to get apple juice out of yellow
fabric. Now that’s a tip I can really use – as soon as I get home, as a
matter of fact!
© 2007 North Star Writers
Group. May not be republished without permission.
Click here to talk to our writers and
editors about this column and others in our discussion forum.
To e-mail feedback about this column,
click here. If you enjoy this writer's
work, please contact your local newspapers editors and ask them to carry
This is Column #
Request permission to publish here.