Dealing with Unprofessional People and Start-Up Issues

I will be the first to admit that I am still learning about how companies “should” be run, how employees “should” be treated, etc. Recently I have had an experience that while it put a bad taste in my mouth, I actually learned quite a bit. A few of these notes are from various projects I have worked on. I cite this as a learning experience and hopefully writing about it will help others learn from my “mistakes”:

1. Some people really abuse the intellectual property of creative people with ease and no abandon:

I had this happen to me once before. It was not a pleasant feeling, that first time the person in question was reprimanded for plagiarism. They got what was coming to them. This time it was purely my trusting nature that put me in a bad spot, a rock and a hard place if you will. From now on people will be signing NDA’s and contract agreements when they wish to use my work, or discuss it in anyway. I hate that I have to do that, I wish I could just trust people… but when it comes down to it, some people (I am not saying all of them, just some) have a really loose understanding of creative rights. You can’t really explain it to them either, its like talking to a wall, a very very dull wall…

image credit – http://www.spaces.nl

2. If you feel that you aren’t being disrespected in any way; get out, get out fast:

Now this is different then not liking your boss or your co-workers. Some people just clash, that is the nature of the beast in social environments. This is about not getting basic human respect, you should never have to do something that goes against your morals. Furthermore you should never put up with someone who is blaming their own misfortune on you. The latter was my experience. I was told that if I marketed this “thing” better my co-worker would have had a paying job by now and the company would be bringing in money already. Which I knew not to be true, all my friends in marketing also knew that this statement was ridiculous. A company in its infancy, being 3 months old, should not expect to even be breaking even yet. He just wasn’t experienced, and he was taking out his lack of professionalism on me. Which was inappropriate and very disrespectful to the work I was doing. When I went to the gentleman in charge he listened and then said he would talk to him about it. Which I was happy to hear. Though… nothing happened, there was no sit down talk about it, no apology. That should have been the first sign that I needed to leave. It seemed like neither of the individuals seemed to understand that start-ups in the first couple of months don’t gain a ton of traction without any network connects of ties to other companies and projects. This was the case with this one, I was running in the dark with little to no support and expected to preform “miracles”.

image credit – INC online

3. Never sign into a company until you have a better idea of their operating policies:

One of these projects; I never really had an idea of where is was going, or what people thought my role was. To use “couch therapy” lingo: I feel as if I was putting a lot in and not getting a lot out of it. I feel like I was doing plenty of work and then being told that I was not doing enough because they viewed giving money and expensive equipment as more valuable in an employee. I just shrugged it off in the beginning, things really hadn’t heated up yet. Then life happened and I needed to take a short break from being super involved with the company. This was a unpaying gig, that I was spending money on, I was doing it in my free time. They seemed very understanding, though I heard later there was some very ugly smack talk being thrown around out why I needed time off. Some of my friends that had a better idea of what was going on set the record straight with the others but it was just so… well unprofessional. Then I started to hear from other people around town about how things were going. I didn’t like what I was hearing, but I tried to consult with people about it. “It’s bad but It’s not THAT bad.” “I’ve seen worse.” “Yeah, I don’t know, I doubt this is going anywhere.” is what I was hearing from other people involved with the project.

Red flags were being raised all over the place. There was clearly a difference in opinion on how the company should be run, and how the project was being handled. Those in higher places were content, those in lower places were not. No one was speaking to one another about it, people were being defensive and avoiding bigger issues. It was getting ugly.

To be honest I had signed into the company at put money in before I truly knew these people. I did so through an online posting – which I will never ever be doing again without asking some serious questions first.

image credit – mudflats.net

Since then I have invested time and money into other start-ups but only after I had a better understanding of the people and their operating policies. People are always going to have different ideas on how a company should be run. If you are signing into something and the people involved have no idea, can’t answer simple questions, and have a “We’ll figure it out as we go” attitude then to me that’s a bad sign.  It is understandable that some instances will occur in a start-up unexpectedly, that you will have to figure something out as you go but that shouldn’t be your policy. Also if they can’t commit to a company structure and they all seem to think they are in charge, than that’s even worse. Companies need some structure in order to function properly and live past the infancy. You can be casual about somethings and open about others but making your operating polices clear is something you should be more firm with.

Clearly the biggest thing I got out of all of this was a greater understanding of what a “bad” company looks like. Also if you are in your infancy and you are loosing members left and right, and loosing most of your founding members… Not a good sign. I met some wonderful people in the process and really learned a very valuable lesson. I just hope some others can also learn from my mistakes! Mainly if you aren’t getting paid, your not being respected, then just leave. Other things will come along, I promise.

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PO Dog – Ballard [A review]

Please go to Po Dog in Ballard if you get a chance, why? Well there are plenty of reasons, so let me name a few. Po Dog in Ballard has a stellar staff. They are fun and casual, they treat you like a family friend and are willing to chat. They are willing to change around toppings to make your perfect dog! The dogs are great too, so many fantastic options and they cook dogs like you should, a quick boil for a plump oversized beef dog that will make your mouth water. Steamed buns that are sort of brioche like hold up to their oversized dogs well.

Po Dog – Dub T Dog

Remember those options I stated? My favorite is the Texas dog with potato chips instead of onion straws. This dog is covered in crushed Ruffles, Tilamook cheddar and a smoky barbecue sauce. If you like onion straws then totally keep those on there. My other favorites are the Dub-T dog, the Chicago Dog and the Mac & Cheese dog. Their dog of the month option is also a favorite, they incorporate fun and fresh toppings with interesting themes.

The sides and drinks at Po Dog are also good. Sometimes I head over purely to get some of their shoestring french fries. Greasy but not too greasy. crispy yet slightly soggy, covered in a great seasoning, they give you a heaping amount in an order too. I just wish they did cheese fries and chili cheese fries. Then I would be there once a week… So maybe its good that chili cheese fries are not on the menu.

The decor is also fun, sort of gothic yet light hearted, black and white patterned wall paper and chair railed walls. Its little tables are cozy but the bar is my favorite place to sit when I am alone. A tiny little hole in the wall with a great staff, wonderful dogs and a endearing interior. Why wouldn’t you go?

Image Credits [ Yelp Seattle for the image of the Dub T, Image of the store: http://seattle.eater.com/archives/2012/03/16/laura-olson-says-ballard-po-dog-will-open-march-23.php ]

The Best Burgers in Seattle – Part Two [Red Mill Burgers]

Okay, firstly my Dicks Drive In article in this run did bring some controversy. I find that to be pretty common when talking food in Seattle. People form pretty solid opinions on food and I don’t blame them! Food is a comfort, a necessity, a keeper of memories; its a lot of things. People in Seattle take this pretty seriously, which I like. I like the opinionated food lover, foodie if you will (though I kind of hate that word), that speaks their mind. If you don’t agree thats fine!

Just remember that this is my quest to find the best burgers in Seattle, with the distinction being that it is my quest. Fully influenced by my tastes, which believe me I know are not everyones! So without further ado…

Red Mill Burgers – That Place GQ Mentioned

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that there is a menu

You have probably seen our next place on the travel channel or in a magazine. I knew about Red Mill way before I moved out here… way before. GQ even says this place has one of the 20 burgers you must try before you die. I am not sure I really agree with that statement, maybe I have yet to experienced that burger with them. But I will keep trying until I have that angels singing in the choir experience.

Red Mill is a little flat top burger joint thats name to fame is a mountain of precooked bacon that lies beyond the counter waiting for the next bacon burger to happen. The have as you can see many additional signs tacked on to their menu, as do most good burger joints. The only time in which this place doesn’t really give me that good old burger joint vibe is when I notice their memorabilia  area and when they were trying to win some silly hottness contest. I don’t need hot chicks to serve me burgers, I just need a good burger!

I digress, lets talk burger, since that is what we are here for. I often get a cheeseburger with bacon and pickles when I visit Red Mill. There cheeseburger is usually just cheese, mill sauce, and lettuce. Here is my problem with red mill, they seem to have a tasty patty but they tend to over cook it. When you have a patty as thick as theirs it could stand to have a little pink to improve flavor. This is something I have found others often complain about. I mean its good, the mill sauce is a great smoky addition to the flavor of the bacon and the meat. The bacon is often cooked perfectly, crispy and chewy all at the same time. But… something is missing, I can’t quite put my finger on it, but something is not quite there for me.

burger and onion rings at the Mill
burger and onion rings at the Mill

I will eat Red Mill, don’t get me wrong, sometimes I crave their mill sauce getting mixed up with that cheese. I hate there is something missing there for me, I really do. I want to have that awe inspiring experience that even Oprah has seem to have had with Red Mill. I really do, maybe my problem is my choice of burger here. They do have other options. Maybe thats my problem. Maybe I will update this article once I find the perfect burger at Red Mill. Maybe being told that it is supposed to be so freaking good by so many people has jaded me though. Maybe its good how it is; well done 1/4 patty, covered in cheese and mill sauce, topped with lettuce, pickles and bacon. It sounds good, when I am eating it, it tastes good. It is entirely possible that GQ has put too much pressure on this girl… I wish I had more to say about it. Just go read their article.

Image Credits: Burger and Onion Rings (Urbanspoon), Menu (http://www.dream-burger.com/)

The Best Burgers In Seattle – Part One [Dick’s Drive In]

Something I learned pretty quickly when I first moved out to Seattle is that there is no shortage of burgers, good and bad. It seems like something that Seattleites secretly crave at all hours of the day and night. The lines outside of Dicks and the amount of burger shop chains out here should be proof enough of this theory. One of my pet projects, as long as I live here, is to try all the various burgers this city has to offer. I figured as long as I was doing this I should share my thoughts, as I quest for the best burgers in Seattle.

Dicks Drive In – A Seattle Staple 

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“My” Dicks Drive In – The First Dicks in the Wallingford Neighborhood

Plenty of people harp on Dicks, I honestly don’t know why. Dick’s is honest about what it is, more honest then most restaurants. It serves burgers, fries and shakes. That’s about it. There are no frills and no substitutions. Don’t even try to ask for a burger without ketchup and mustard, you’ll just hold up the line. There is always a line at Dicks, I don’t think I have walked straight up to a counter more then twice in the three years I have lived here.

You have your Special/Deluxe and your regular burger. There is a price difference and a totally different flavor profile to both. Want a completely no frills, fast, tasty burger? Get yourself a Dicks cheeseburger; a patty, cheese, bun, ketchup and mustard. The bun is steamed and squishy, the patty is local beef with that nice flattop flavor. Want a Seattle original? Then you must try the Special or the Deluxe. The only difference is the Deluxe has cheese and an extra patty.  The Deluxe is the burger for me half the time; two 1/8 pound patties, cheese, mayo, shredded lettuce and pickled relish all on that perfect steamed bun.

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The Amazing Deluxe Burger

The best thing about Dicks is that you get an all out Deluxe for $2.70 and a regular cheeseburger for $1.50. My husband and I frequent Dicks, visiting once a month often eating for a whooping total of $11.40 and we are very full at the end of it. We get fresh local cheeseburger on the cheap. The only thing we don’t really like about Dicks is the fries, they are tasty just too soggy and short for my tastes. I do highly suggest it to anyone who visits Seattle but with two important things to remember:

– You can’t sub anything on the menu, or ‘hold’ anything off your burger

– If you want ketchup for your fries you have to pay for it, 5 cents gets to a little tub of it.

Which to me is fair enough when their tasty burgers are so cheap! Better then McD’s or Wendy’s any day of the week, worth a try if you are in the market for a $2.00 burger.

Update: I will be reviewing all the burger joints I frequent and give my thoughts as I go. At the end I hope to name my “Best Burger”!

Morning Coffee – The Best Brew

Living in Seattle if you don’t like coffe you are a tad alienated from the population. There is coffee EVERYWHERE and I don’t just mean on street corner cafes. I don’t just mean the battle of the Tully’s, Starbucks, Seattle’s Best (which I guess is owned by Starbucks now), etc. I mean that I pass by a video rental place going to University District the serves coffee. I used to work at a desert shop during the evening that had a espresso machine, which I guess isn’t too odd. People sometimes came there just for my lattes Sunday mornings. I had a tendency to put almost an inch of caramel in the caramel lattes, what… your watching your waist? Whoops…

So while I am not a Barista in the truer sense of the term. I have met a lot of Seattle Barista’s that are cut throat, this is their career and they compete to be the best. I do have my favorite places to go get coffee and my favorite coffee suppliers and drinks. I also have perfected my favorite way to brew my own cup! Without further ado, let’s jump in:

1. Best Overall Coffe – Cafe Vita in Fremont, Seattle

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This a location of this coffee empire is really close to my newest apartment, so it is made all the better by the fact that I can walk there. They roast their own, in the Queen Anne neighborhood of Seattle. They only thing I don’t like about they, which really isn’t their fault at all, is that on weekends my neighborhood is packed with cars and people trying to get a cup. I guess that means other people like it just as much.

2. Best Place to get more with your Coffee – B&O Espresso  in Ballard, Seattle

Just go and get a Milky Way (Coffe, Ghiradelli cocoa, house made caramel & whipped cream) and a Ham & Gruyere crepe. Tell them Alicia sent you, tell them extra homemade whip = happiness. You’ll thank me.

3. Best Coffee Drink – The Latte @ Anchored Ship Coffee Bar in Ballard, Seattle

This one was hard, there are alot of places I love but I thought long and hard. What really sets this latte apart is that it doesn’t feel like it needs any sugar at all. Yes I add sugar to coffee but only if the brew is really harsh and overly bitter. They really know how to pull a shot here!

4. Best Coffee at Home – French Press using Cafe Vita’s BRAZIL RANCHO SAO BENEDITO blend

Alright, like I said, I am not an expert but here is how I brew my coffee at home… I am not an expert but this works really well for me! I use a tiny little Bodum press and it works really well for me, I need to buy a bigger one, I  am starting to need more coffee in the morning. I use the word “need” loosely of course.

Also I adore these two pieces of equipment, I find them necessary to get the right cuppa. My Black and Decker Smart Grind and Programable Electric Kettle. The B&D Smart Grind take 3-4 presses to get the right coarse grind for me! Its pretty sweet. Two heaping tablespoons of beans is right per cup. The blend from Cafe Vita is floral and sweet, its great for that morning cup.

The B&D Programable Electric Kettle is also super awesome. Its programmed for things like coffee, a general herbal tea setting, boiling, etc. You can also pick the exact temperature  you want the water for super tea lovers that want that right brew on their leaves (like my husband!).

Coffee can be intimidating in Seattle, but don’t let it be! Stay away from the chains, welcome the tiny coffee houses and you will get some of the best coffee of your life in this town.

Social Media is Scary? – Part One: Facebook Privacy

I recently met a couple woman that despite their careers benefiting social media platform use they are still fearful of it. I don’t blame them, but I also don’t see how.

I understand a desire for privacy and there are ways to achieve it online. You know what the best way is? Don’t post ANYTHING you don’t want people to know or see. There are other ways to control who sees what and actually if anything Facebook has started giving you more control with this. I left my posting settings on “close friends” for three weeks once by accident and I was wondering why my Klout score was dipping. That was why! Those new posting settings do work… if anyone is fearful that their privacy is still compromised, it is… sort of.

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Yes, there are targeted ads, and yes you really really need to pay attention to allowing an app to access your information. I think this is the big one. Once you allow an app to see your information I highly doubt there is a lot Facebook can do about that. Its like anything else, read the fine print, better yet READ ALL OF THE PRINT.

facebook-privacy (1)

This is something that seems to be plaguing society right now; an inability to read something entirely. I have witnessed people sign agreements with no understanding of what they are signing. Once you do that there is no recovery, that signature relinquishes any power you may have had to protect your privacy, your belongings, you intellectual property, etc. It scares me that people sign things willy-nilly now, even more so when money is involved. You have the power to understand how to protect yourself on-line you just need to read it!  Facebook posts everything that has to do with their privacy agreement, you can access it at anytime here. If you have any questions about allowed access then you should really read this and ask questions! Facebook does have a support, they have a help section that will guide you. There is no gray area here to my knowledge. There are no secret Facebook dark agents that sell your information to the highest bidder, there are no secret government agencies that have access to everything, they can get access… but that just it, they have to get it.