Updated: Jan 18
Consider the sausage. By definition “it is a cylindrical meat product usually made from ground meat, often pork, beef, or veal, along with salt, spices and other flavorings, and bread crumbs, with a skin around it.” (Wikipedia) The skin or casing is either manufactured or made from the intestines of other unfortunate animals who checked the donor box on their license prior to leaving us. “Manufactured artificial casings are made of cellulose, collagen or synthetic materials,” Wikipedia continues. I am not sure if those ingredients are worse for us or the casings. In the end, the casing serves as a funnel for the sausage to fill and get tied off like a drug addict does, prior to cooking.
With fennel. No fennel.
Fennel seems to be key in making sausage Italian. Fennel tastes like licorice but isn't, or anise, which also has a similar flavor. Origin seems to play a major part in German sausages or wursts. For example, frankfurters come from Frankfurt, Germany. Find a place on earth, and they have a version of a recipe for sausage and a story to go with it.
Some have written about the similarities between writing our nations’ laws and producing sausage. Being a lawmaker notwithstanding, I think just about any job or career is easily comparable to making the tasty links. It’s hard work, requires mystical techniques and recipes, a dash of luck and some things you would rather not tell anybody about. For more pain, add to it the machines and noises that blend it all together. Once made, the phallic food just looks bad, like some of my greatest career successes and failures, which resemble the images of a terrible tractor trailer accident on the New Jersey Turnpike. I struggle to find a career bliss image that looks better than a big number on my W-2. Maybe that’s why so many divert their focus to job titles.
A title is the cheapest thing a company can give you.
It costs nothing for the business but the shrapnel and angst for the employee who didn’t get it. You have to be careful when you accept them. I learned this the hard way. I have been a Chief Marketing Officer, Advisor, Head of Marketing and Sales: Business Development, Global Support, Relationship Management, and any combination of all of them.
I do, however, describe myself as a marketing and business development guy. But you have to be careful with the title you accept.
First, access who the job reports to. I had an ambiguous title once that reported to the top guy. After leaving the company, I found it next to impossible to explain, kind of like explaining why we enjoy sausage so much.
Would you want to be a (add your own title here) to Ken Lay from Enron, or John Scully during his Apple years (he became famous for firing Steve Jobs)? How about Bernie Ebbers from Worldcom, Guccione from Penthouse, or anything Trump? Who you associate (and run with) is important. Don’t get sucked into the sausage casing of corporate titles.
Where’s the beef?
Your career has many ingredients. Many say that like a good sausage, your career has to have a foundation and direction. In the old days, it was something like this: You go to school, become an accountant, latch on to a big company, never even think about leaving, kill all your good ideas just after origination, and receive your award for filling the office floor with broken #2 pencil tips. Congrats! You now have a watch to tell you what time it is for the two or three years you have left before you donate your intestines to become the casing for someone else’s career sausage.
How about this one?
Try everything that interests you. Make that the basis of your own millennial sausage recipe. Who cares if you have the skill; just try it. Give it your best shot. Show up and try. If you have to, cut it and fly. Fill the career menu with your own authentic recipe. Beg, borrow, and steal whatever you can from others.
Next, add some of the you that makes you, you. And there you go. Sounds simple but it’s not.
In addition to the functional areas above, I have worked in the following industries: automotive, banking, recruiting, technology, insurance, and outsourcing. I have never built, marketed, or sold a car, or made a loan. I can’t read code, can only spell actuary, struggle with the balance sheet and its hidden meanings, and have never performed a service. I didn’t follow a script. My dad was a blue collar guy. He didn’t have any advice for me on how to become “the man.”
Accept that your work will be hard, contain pain, discomfort and some failure, too. You will learn a ton of lessons from the experiences you consumed. Happiness and success are easily forgotten. Like with a good recipe for sausage, we struggle to remember unless we write it down. I will bet you, though, that you will remember the time you added anchovies or Spam to your sausage and will never do it again.
My best, Chris