"Starbucks would appreciate me more."
She was talking about her current job and how people didn't appreciate her ideas, let her try new things, or listen to her creative suggestions. She was humble enough to know that every idea shouldn't be accepted, but she was also smart enough to know that she saw how things could improve. If they would just listen. If she wasn't confined to the role of her job description.
She took the job nine months earlier, thinking she could work her way up or around, break out of a job that paid her not a lot of money and was well within her realm of skill and talent. But, early on, she recognized she was hired to fill a spot, do work that lots of people could do, and keep things moving as long as usual.
And now she'd had it. She was tired - tired of a 9-to-5 that had no challenges or inspiration, tired of colleagues who were anything but friends, and tired of having her wildest dreams go unfulfilled. So there, sipping venti lattés, she looked around and said it:
Starbucks would appreciate me more.
Yes, they probably would. So, I pushed back. "Then work for them," I said.
"I can't," she replied.
"Then give your place an ultimatum. Tell your boss you want to be heard, you want to try new things, that you want to have a voice and an impact."
"They won't listen. They don't appreciate me."
"Then why stay? When will you be appreciated?"
Many of us work at places that seem like they don't value our time, talent, or energy. Our impact is smaller than we want, our work less than what we're capable of. And we tell ourselves that we need this job, in effect saying that it's okay for a place to ignore us while slipping us a paycheck every few weeks.
This is mortgage we pay on a dream deferred. It looks like we're building up value over the long term, but who knows when our bubble will burst and we'll be left with a few lines on a resume and a page full of regret?
It's time to move on to somewhere - anywhere - that will appreciate us. It's a sad state of American business when small companies and well-meaning nonprofits simply want bodies to fill seats. The most innovative companies seem to be those large multinational ones, with big budgets and long payrolls, but working for them makes you feel like you'll be just a number.
But what are you where you are now? A body?
There is no shame in working where you're valued, no matter what name appears on the upper left corner of your paycheck. Maybe it's yours, maybe it's a coffee chain's, or maybe it's a local start-up. Go where you're valued. If you're not there now, things are unlikely to change. It's much more likely that you'll find a better place than that your place will find a better you.