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Posts tagged ‘hunting’

Eat What You Kill

I’ve been working for others about as long as I have been self-employed, and I’ve learned only one thing throughout all this time: value = delivery. I began the bulk of my professional career as a grant writer, and as a grant writer you are charged with paying for yourself, plus. Usually you are required to bring in three times your salary to justify your job. Seeing as how I was never a highly-Screen-Shot-2012-06-13-at-10.40.13-AM1paid grant writer, but I did win many 6-7 figure awards, this wasn’t difficult to accomplish. My jobs have always been secure…

Now that I am a freelancer, however, I’ve noticed that my personal expectations of what I deliver to clients changed a bit. I expected pay for work–competitive pay–pay commensurate with my skills and experience. What’s wrong with that? Work is a deliverable, right? You need writing services: a blog, a book, web copy, a press release, business proposal, a grant, flier, etc. I should get paid for the work I do based on my experience, talent and quality and the value of what I deliver. Right? Not so fast.

“Eat what you kill.” I have been in the land of commissioned sales, of percentages on projects with little cash laid up front but with lots to gain on the back end, based on the overall success of my deliverables. Some people cower at the thought while others thrive with the sense of empowerment to create their own revenue. I am the latter. I like knowing that the cash in my hand is a direct result of the work I have done. In other words, “eat what you kill.” If I bring money in the door, I get more money. In this strategy, my value is directly correlated with the money I generate.

As a writer, that may sound like a strange principal, and arguably it’s not the right strategy for everyone. It’s not the right strategy for every project, either, or for every client. But, over the past few weeks, it has become increasingly clear that this is exactly how I work best. Pay me most not just when I produce, but when what I produce turns a profit or is deemed measurably valuable to you in some meaningful way.

I’ve watched so many employees walk into businesses with a sense of entitlement that made my eyes water from the stench. They had no sense of hustle, no desire to bring efficiencies or ingenuity to the game, and felt no responsibility to add to the immediate bottom line of their workplace. Yet, they felt completely entitled to continue receiving a salary for breathing, whining and taking up space.

I’m not saying that all staff or contract positions need to conform to this philosophy, but I am saying that if you want to be deemed truly valuable, take on an “eat what you kill” mentality. Take risks that force you to deliver in big ways for you to see real pay-offs. Justify your salary by developing systems that save your company money, eliminate waste and redundancies, produce innovative products and services, commit to constantly increasing your performance and the quality of your work, or better yet bring hard cash through the door in the form of contracts, or developing a new customer base. Eat what you kill.

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Daphne — Urban Mouse Hunter

He looked at me, twitching his whiskers, taunting me… mocking me…

It wasn’t a subtle appearance—they were bold as if they perceived themselves to be thoroughly welcome house guests, anticipating their own set of fresh linens and tasty late night snacks.

20110930-mice-on-bedding-IMG-3948A pair of beady little black eyes and long gray whiskers jutting out from a tiny furry body appeared from behind a box of unopened oatmeal. We stood there staring at each other for a bit, then he scurried into my stove, out of view. I took in a deep breath and sighed. I hoped we could be friends, but these sorts of friendships never end well. One thing was certain, however…

Damnit! I have mice. Oh, sure I only saw the one, but where there’s one, there’s more. How many more is anyone’s guess.

I quickly decided that the last thing I want these infernal things to do is go running all over the apartment and get into my food in the kitchen. So, they’ve commandeered the stove—great. The stove is theirs for the time being until I can figure out how to capture these vermin. That means for me that the stove is off limits. I certainly don’t want to prepare food where these things are dwelling. They are not the tidiest of creatures to put it mildly.

How to keep them out of my food? Well, I will feed them, of course! If they eat their own food, they will stay away from mine. (Interestingly, that tactic actually worked. Don’t knock insanity until you’ve tried it!)

I’ve found that they are quite fond of peanut butter and crackers, and I realized that there were certain times of day that they went about foraging. They seemed quite pleased with the convenient and thoughtful bits I’d leave for them. Little did they realize that my ultimate goal was their capture. I’m certain they found me very hospitable.

And capture I did! Two—the only two I thought I had—I placed their food into an open cage that I had set on the stove. When they entered, I slammed a bit of plastic over the opening so they couldn’t escape. I then secured the opening door behind them, and I had mice in a cage.

How did that work? So, yes. This means that I had to stand alone in my kitchen, during the times I knew they dined, and waited patiently to make my move. Yes, this took hours. Yes, this happened over a matter of days…longer, actually. No, I have no discernible life—stop judging me, okay?

Oh, no. The story doesn’t end here—this is only the beginning…

As I went about my mouse-free life, my mother suddenly fell ill, and I needed to stay at her apartment and help with her dog and a few other responsibilities as she recuperated. Meanwhile, I had a cat that stayed in my apartment, and I would visit her daily, feed her, pet her—all of those things you do with cats as they go about mauling you for fun. Then, when I realized that my stay at my mother’s was going to be extended, I moved the cat over to her place, too.

I’d still go visit my apartment, clean, check on things, discard old food, etc. And, that’s when I noticed it—a pair of old slacks I had meant to donate had pieces shredded from it, and it was lying on the closet floor. I examined other bits of this and that to notice more shredded fabric and debris. Mice!

Now it was clear that while I rid myself of a couple rodents, several more made their way in and called my mostly vacant apartment home. I noticed droppings here and there, food packages with holes in them, and of course the shredded fabric where they attempted to make little nests for themselves.

I decided it was time to move back in, and reclaim my apartment from these vermin. Bastards aren’t even paying rent!

This time there will not be any attempts at trapping them by hand, but I did go out and buy several “no kill” mouse traps, still with the thought in mind that I would just relocate the furry fiends, and we could all just go about our lives… separately.

One afternoon, I’m sleeping. (Hey! I work at night…) I wake up to find a pile of sunflower seed shells up next to my pillow. I was livid! The little bastard is taunting me, mocking me!

I could just picture him there, piling up his mid-day lunch next to my head, then crunched away on my seeds with a smug little look on his face whilst watching me sleep. As if I was some sort of entertainment to him, an amusement.

All sense of civility left me. I yelled at the worthless cat, threw out the “no kill” traps and banged on the stove to make sure the little critters were paying close attention and officially declared war!

I called an exterminator and set an appointment—they would arrive in three days. Yeah, I know. Most of you are thinking—what the hell took you so long? Look, when I was a kid, friends of mine had mice as pets. It’s not as simple as it might seem. Of course other friends had pets like snakes and lizards that ate mice, but I didn’t have access to a snake or carnivorous lizard at the moment, and the cat, like I said—worthless.

I need a mouser…

Walking back to my car late at night, I noticed something. We have a family of half-feral cats living among us. One is friendly enough that she lets me pick her up. Idea! Maybe I can do away with the expense of the exterminator and just kidnap this cat to do a little mousing.

I went back into my apartment, and shoved my worthless cat over on the bed so that I could try to get some sleep. When I’ve almost drifted off, I see my worthless cat out of the corner of my eye prancing around. I look up, and there she is in the center of the room… with a mouse in her mouth!

I sit up in glee—what a wonderful sight. Life’s food chain in full action! My cat isn’t worthless after all! But, if she’s such a great mouser, and she indeed appears to be, why haven’t I seen any mouse corpses lying around?

catmouseJust then, she walks over towards me, and just beside the bed, she is still toying with its near lifeless body.  I watcher paw it, nibble it, lick it and suck on it until I watch her devour it whole… little bones, tail whiskers and all!

The next day I cancelled my appointment with the exterminator. It appears that I’m living with one, and she’s finally covering her share of the rent in labor. Good cat!

 

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