I spent two days teaching a 9-year-old how to do my job. Let me first say, Kavaliro is not a babysitting service, but we do understand that life happens and sometimes you have to bring your kids to work. With that said, I volunteered to hang out with Carlee, while she was at the office for two days this summer, and teach her how to do my job.
First- a few things about Carlee. She is nine years old, bright and very curious about everything! Her mom is really intelligent and is an integral part of the Kavaliro team, so I had no doubt that Carlee would be just as brilliant. Carlee is a pretty average kid; she likes swimming, after-school activities, and is just a delight to be around! She can be shy at first, but once you get to know her this kid is full of spunk!
Right before the school year started Carlee had to come to work with her mom for a few days. We have had kids come to work with their parents now and then because, well, life. I work in marketing so I have all the fun stuff: Kavaliro sunglasses, fidget spinners, a laminator, and a fancy camera… so kids usually come to hang out with me for a bit. Oh! I also have a stash of candy, but I like to tell myself that the kids like me for me, not for my giant bag of M&M's.
Carlee came to my office the first day she was here and asked what I was doing. I told her I was getting ready to record a training video for the team and asked if she wanted to help! She said, “sure,” pulled up a chair and proceeded to do my job for me.
We started working on a script. We talked about the beginning, middle, and ends, and reiterating your message at the start and finish. We chatted about lighting, microphone placement, and proper editing. This kid asked excellent questions and picked everything up so quickly! Next thing I knew she turned in to a movie director, telling me where the lighting was the best, performing a sound check, and calling "action."
When we were done instead of going back to watching whatever show the kids are watching nowadays, she asked what was next. I said, “well, I have to go through some emails... I kid you not her next question was, "can I do that?” My answer: "HECK YES"! Carlee sat at my desk in front of my computer and proceeded to move through my inbox with the speed of a cheetah (here are some tips to manage your email). In under an hour we had organized, responded and managed every single email in my inbox (it didn't stay empty for long). The day continued like this until Carlee left for the day. The heart melter moment, before she left, she said: "save some work for me for next time!"
A few days later Carlee came to work again with her mom and was ready to work! She informed me that we would be going to lunch together today and that we needed to take care of this week’s video. I got out of my chair and said: "take a seat boss, lets get to work"! This time I was her assistant. She came up with the idea for our weekly training video "Payroll" (I guided her a little bit towards a more specific topic) and then she proceeded to write the script, direct, and star in the video! Then we spent the rest of the day in Photoshop working on some art for a team incentive (which she designed without my help), and we worked on some email marketing campaigns. For those keeping up with our busy schedule, we also had tacos for lunch.
Photo Credit: Carlee
So, why am I writing about the two days I spent with Carlee? Well, because I learned so much. When she started hanging out with me I thought I would be the teacher, and she would get bored, and that would be that. I was so wrong.
Here is what I learned:
Kids work slower than adults.
There was good and bad to having my day slowed down. The benefit was that I had to pay attention to what I was doing and why I was doing it. Carlee helped me realize some of the things I do are a tad redundant and I should reassess my processes (like how I manage my email). Slowing down also helped me cultivate my message and be more direct in my approach. The bad: I got less done, but Carlee was great and let me power through stuff for the last few hours of the day while she did some non-computer stuff.
Breaks are important.
As a grown-up, I feel a responsibility to be at my desk as much as possible and available all day (I often eat lunch at my desk). Carlee is 9 so breaks are a must. I didn't realize how much I needed to take breaks! When I could tell Carlee was fading a bit we would take a 10-minute break, grab the mail, check in with her mom, get snacks, go to lunch. When I would get back to my desk (with Carlee), I would feel oddly refreshed. I have read all the things that say take breaks often, and drink lots of water, but I thought it was all kind of a bunch of malarkey. News flash, it isn't, you should take breaks.
Finding joy in the little things can change your day.
Working with Carlee taught me that the stuff I thought was mundane and boring was actually fun and exciting. I was forced to step into Carlee's shoes or rather remember my 9-year-old self’s dream of being a "business lady" like my mom. I think that is what it was like for Carlee in some respect, it was like playing "grown-up," but you are getting to spend time doing grown-up things. I guess what I am trying to say is Carlee has reminded me that the tasks I think are tedious now were once really exciting and fun to my 9-year-old self. Bringing back some of that excitement and thrill made my day go by way faster and put me in a better post-work mood. Moral of the story, think back to when you were young, and you felt that answering emails all day was cool and fun, then try and bring some of that to your adult day to day.
Don't forget to ask questions.
I get into routines just like everyone else. Carlee, however, broke up my habits and removed the spell of monotony that I had been living under. She asked me a million, billion, trillion, gazillion questions about everything. Examples: "Who is that new person? Does Kavaliro pay you the PTO like money? Why do people call you to fix their computers? How many emails do you get? Why do you get so many emails? Who is your boss? Why do you use that program instead of the other one?" The questions were all brilliant. It reminded me that I need to keep being curious and ask my co-workers and others more questions. I am not planning a rebellion or anything but questioning the way the company and/or I do things can be beneficial. As Kavaliro's COO Bill Peppler always says, always ask for the "Why."
Final thoughts on my time with Carlee. I have a pretty cool job. I mean, come on, if a 9-year-old elects to hang out with me for two days I must be doing something fun (I would like to think it is because I'm super cool, but I try not to lie to myself). I asked Carlee what she thought of her time with me, and I am going to sign off after sharing her words.
"I think her (Kati's) job is very interesting, however, it can be hard sometimes. Her job is hard because she has so many people coming to her asking her to do stuff for them. I love doing challenging stuff, so when I grow up I want to be like Kati"*
*I'm not crying, your crying!