Archive for July, 2012

Changing Hats

In the fast paced world of retail and commercial construction project management results are measured by deadlines and budgets. At the end of the day no one wants to hear about how hard you worked, what you did or how many obstacles were thrown at you…did you or did you not achieve the desired result on time? That is what counts. If, for example, a fashion retail store has its grand opening scheduled for the day after Thanksgiving, no amount of hard work will give you a pass for not getting the job done until Saturday. I have spent years with terms such as pro-activity, get in front of it, drop dead date. It is all very black and white. Either the artwork was installed on time or it wasn’t. The lighting fixtures either came in on budget or they didn’t.

And so it is these past few years I have been struggling to transition from part to full-time professional genealogist. I do understand that there are no guarantees that a land sale will exist for a certain individual, and, if it does exist there is no guarantee that it will be found in a certain repository, or even sometimes at all. So, I understand the concept of charging an hourly rate for a search that bears no fruit. Or, that is to say, I get the concept. But…I am programmed to deliver results at the end of each day. So if that day yields no results, then I spend time trying to figure out what to do to produce results that I feel comfortable charging for. I have tried giving myself pep talks and comparing these task to other tasks that involve paid work for no results. But still I am resistant. This has been the main challenge for me in changing careers.

On the flip side, I have used my former project management and data crunching hats to create some excellent time-saving tools. I just added time line and log modules to my custom genealogy database. The time line module lets me quickly enter data that may or may not apply in the early stages of the project to yield a report to take with me into the field. It is also helpful to spot anomalies. As more work is done, only the relevant items need be put into more formal language. The log helps me track my back and forth contacts with clients, prospective clients and volunteer projects so that I can stay on top of who has been waiting too long for an answer, research proposal, status update, project report.

Right now I am hot on the trail of someone’s illusive Huguenot ancestor and thus there are a few too many individuals that have been waiting too long to hear back from me. And so, I had best get cracking!


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