When we established The Leader early in 2018, we had the grand idea that we would prepare our blogs and newsletters in advance, keeping perhaps two or three “on the shelf” to avoid any last minute issues around deadlines. Suffice to say that never happened!
"Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans."
Quotable Quotes Readers’ Digest 1957.
However, I did come across some content languishing in a folder which I had written in December 2017 – two months into semi-retirement. Some of it now makes me feel quite uncomfortable when I realise that often I was sailing pretty close to the wind. But it speaks of a different time – reflecting on a 24 year role which started in the mid 1990s. So, I’ve presented it below. Remember too that it was written pre-pandemic.
In the late 1970s early 1980s there was a wonderful series of TV adverts for Martini, with the strapline “any time, any place, anywhere”. Even though the ads were self-deprecating, today they would still be considered sexist, and not very PC. And yet, they captured the glamour, excitement and Yuppie culture of the time beautifully.
They were aspirational, and their key message was to convey wealth and success. You could enjoy a Martini no matter where you were or what you were doing, and you could even have your drink brought to you by a roller-skating leggy blonde female expertly balancing a tray. In fairness, she did skate past Muscle Beach, so I guess the equalities agenda was being addressed.
I have recently retired from a busy role, leading the funding, marketing and communications department in a large and thriving social enterprise which operated 24/7/365. I always used the phrase “Martini working” to describe my working style. My younger colleagues would look at me blankly, but soon understood the concept, after they had watched and laughed at some of the adverts which are available on YouTube.
Since I had responsibility for comms my phone was always close at hand, and never switched off. I treated email in a similar fashion, preferring to keep on top of it with short, frequent check-ins every day, rather than switching it off and having my inbox hit with a tsunami when I next checked in.
This also meant that I could keep the work pipeline flowing, and quickly respond to items, or delegate them. My team also knew that I would always be at the end of the phone or email, and this level of comfort allowed them to make and take decisions without developing analysis paralysis. This helped build strong trust between the team members and between the team and myself, and almost counter-intuitively lessened the number of calls and emails.
Martini working really came into its own when I was travelling, attending conferences or events or participating in study tours.
I think that keeping your mind on a constant “trickle charge” also makes it more receptive and alert, and I believe it helps to nurture your creativity. I hope someone has researched this topic which will prove or disprove my theory. That’s a google search for another day!
I know Martini working might not work for everyone, and it does seem to fly in the face of having a healthy work-life balance, but for me it was the right solution to allow me to support my team, pace myself and sustain my energy and passion for a job that I loved.
As I move into an encore career where I hope to share my leadership experience and learning, I’ve been asked if I miss the responsibility and pressure of the Martini working style. Having worked that way for many years, I have been surprised at how easily I’ve been able to let the responsibility go.
What I really miss are the people, but that is easily taken care of by finding time to meet and catch up over coffee (or Zoom). So, the Martini working has been replaced by a slightly slower pace, but I still have lots I want to do.
And look on the bright side, if I stick to coffee, there is a fair bit of research around highlighting its benefits, so that might make my encore career last a bit longer!
Working hard for something we don’t care about is called stress; working hard for something we love is called passion.
Take care, lead well