I Have Finally Discovered the Perks of Working at Planet Boola-boola

This article was originally published on Anan Tello’s Blog (Nov. 29th, 2016). You can find the original article here.

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, I worked for a company that seemed very beautiful on the outside — at least in my eyes, but on the inside… ugh! Please don’t get me started!

The person who hired me did not understand a word in my resume, nor was he familiar with anything I said during the interview… and that was just for starters. I was simply an alien who made a bad career decision and landed on Planet Boola-boola. I had a huge brain which was only good at criticizing me, a set of large eyes that could not see the very obvious ugliness around and shiny, blue skin which barely appealed to anyone on that planet.

Back then, I fell in love with Boola-boola! I decided to work at that company for a month so I would write a book about my ‘exotic adventure’, or maybe at least a series of blog posts. However, unfortunately I spent a lot more than a month in that place and only wrote angry diary entries and frustrated WhatsApp messages to my besties. For a while, it turned into a challenge. I wanted to make a significant difference in the place as if I were a heroine in a movie — funny, I know. I did make a difference, but God knows it costed me a lot and was not worth it at all — reminds me of the difference Tilly from “The Dressmaker” movie made when she returned to her small town in rural Australia.

The place was horrible, but with my sense of humor and my longing for change and adventure, I fell in love with its every single detail. The walls, the windows, the chairs, the tables and the laptops told stories of gigantic bombings, crazed staff and creative wars. The laptop I used was violently scratched and missed around 7 or 8 buttons. When I asked why it was so, they told me it survived the bombing which turned the wall in the conference room in which I sat into pebbles. Having been raised on a boring planet where my best adventures included hailing a cab instead of calling my personal driver, I was thrilled!

Trips to the restroom were not fun at all, but yet I found an adventure in them. Men and women shared the same restroom, which was quite awkward… that’s for one. Two, the poor ole bulb dangling miserably from the ceiling was broken, so there was a chargeable flashlight plugged into a wall socket all the time because, for some reason, if you unplug it, it becomes quite useless. The toilet seat was also very miserable I felt guilty every time I took a piss in it, and my greatest fear was to touch anything in there.

Nevertheless, walls, chairs, laptops and toilet seats were not much of an issue for me. To the contrary actually, they gave me something to make jokes about and laugh. My problem was the extreme lack of professionalism across the company. For a long while, I got depressed and felt helpless. I was stuck unable to figure out what to do. My gut told me to leave, but I did not want to leave without any gains after all the pain, until I sat and reflected on my tenure with Boola-boola. I figured there were countless gains, and the following are a handful of them.

1) An unhealthy work environment helps you discover the ‘gangsta’ inside you.

I was used to being the utterly nice, joyous and absolutely professional person at the workplace with a sense of humor most — if not all — people around me enjoyed.

However, I got to unleash the beast inside me at Boola-boola … in fact, I discovered for the very first time in my career life that there was actually a beast inside me. I would switch between ‘professional’ and ‘gangsta’ modes several times a day, which, for many, seemed like dramatic mood swings when in fact I was merely switching to the mode necessary for the situation with which I was faced.

There were people who would not respect me unless I turned the gangsta mode on in full swing. For instance, if I needed, say, to get the miserable, broken A.C. fixed during the hottest month of the year, August, I’d first go about saying, “please”, “s’il vous plait”, “law samaht”, “por favor” and so on, but no one would listen, so I would suddenly awaken the kraken inside me and say in the most fierce of tones, “FIX THE DAMN A.C. AT ONCE!” Worked like a charm.

I did not want to be the kind of person who bossed people around and treated them like dirt, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

There were also those who would add top management to the email loop if they wanted to ‘scare’ you. That really waked the kraken inside me because I’m not someone who accepts being threatened, and it only encouraged me to disrespect the top management who did not penalize that kind of immature behavior… but mostly fostered it.

When you’re surrounded by hypocrites, insecure bullies, failures with titles and vulgar people who lack integrity and a proper upbringing, you need to unleash that dragon locked inside you.

2) Teaches you a thing or two about gratitude.

I was a brat and took all my previous jobs at several wonderful international companies for granted. I even refused a job offer from one of the most famous business magazines in the universe because I wanted to go on an adventure, and thought back then, “How adventurous could working for a perfect company be?”

I did not understand back then that working for international companies was a luxury, so I was not grateful… and consequently, I was punished.

The more grateful you are, the more good you receive from the Universe (from God), and when you’re not grateful at all, you eventually lose your blessings and everything you took for granted and whined about.

Sometimes the only way for us to learn is through punishment, but that is not the end. As long as we’re still alive, things can get better. You don’t like where you are? Look for the good in everything bad and be grateful. A new door to happiness will surely open and you will forget this whole mess ever happened.

You could be too depressed to see anything good, but that is okay, I’ll tell you how I managed it. I bought a mini notebook with a beautiful teddy bear cover (the cuteness bit was for motivational purposes) and at the end of every work day I wrote 3–5 things I was grateful for. Some of my entries were like, “Glad I don’t have Bruno’s hyena smile”, “Thank goodness for headsets”, “One of my teammates said a good joke today”, “I made someone smile”, “I’m grateful I don’t work for our sister company”, “Glad I’m the one who’s changing the company’s culture” and “My existence threatens many and that is proof I am overqualified”.

Among the many benefits of gratitude is that it improves physical and psychological health, it enhances empathy and reduces aggression, improves self-esteem, increases mental strength and helps one sleep better.

Be grateful and remember: the sun smiles after every storm.

3) Adds to your life experiences.

I learned that life can be utterly unfair. Hard work does not pay off, slackers and bullies get easily promoted, professionals are not appreciated, the bad guy wins and backstabbers make it big while good people weep over their wounds.

At Boola-boola, we spent months with no direct management, but I was used to working without the direct supervision of my managers because: 1) I am not a child, 2) I was there to work and hated having my time wasted and 3) I am responsible enough and can supervise and evaluate my own performance perfectly well.

However, that was not the case for my coworkers. Within a couple of hours, they turned the place into an animated zoo. Dance parties were thrown every 15 minutes and every hour was lunch hour. I suffer from ADHD, and so staying focused was already an issue. I had to fight with almost everyone every day, but they wouldn’t cut the crap, so I put up with them until we were finally granted some manager.

Apparently, my new manager was impressed by my demeanor, skills and expertise and later on explained to me that his first mission was to “get rid of me”. Yes, it is what you’re thinking. Instead of commending me on my dedication to work, some nark went to the top management and trash-talked me… and obviously, the management’s source of information was some insecure liar.

I witnessed slackers and major schemers get promoted while I sat there working my a** off and hoping my hard work would pay off like it usually did… but no, I was not appreciated or recognized in any way. Actually, they did recognize me for my hard work only by dumping more responsibilities on my plate without making an effort to promote me or give me a pay raise. To the contrary actually, I was insulted and disrespected.

I promised myself that I would show appreciation to everyone who put the least effort into doing anything because now I know what it feels like to have my light dimmed.

4) Helps you learn more about the power of words.

The words that escape your mouth are not merely sound waves, spit and air. They can hurt others and prove you unworthy. Your words actually say a lot about you and the way you were raised.

I had to listen to some bully say to me out of the blue, “I can replace you within two weeks.” It’s a given that when companies lose a talent they immediately rush to replacing them, but only an insecure, extremely scared bully would say it to an employee’s face. He was feeling worthless and replaceable, so he said it to one of the most talented, hardworking people he knew.

You know what that encouraged me to do? Leave and replace the whole company where I was paid badly, treated poorly and unappreciated!

I also listened to him — as he met me to give me a counteroffer — tell me that the only place I’d go to if I left that company would be a ‘cowshed’. You can now imagine what kind of Boola-boola that was.

Moreover, some managers would have the guts to come to me and say stuff like, “If you say this, you are not professional.” And “If you do that, you are not professional.” Really? But how much do they know about professionalism?

Planting spies between employees, hiring people without proper contracts, terminating employees in a moment of rage, bullying employees, provoking and encouraging gossip, undermining team members in front of their coworkers, conspiring against their employees, openly practicing political incorrectness at the workplace and kicking employees out of the office was just how professional Boola-boola was.

5) Gives you something to vent on and joke about instead of — or besides — politics.

I almost totally quit writing about politics while I worked at Boola-boola because there were sexier topics at my workplace! I was never interested in reading books or articles about the workplace, but now I read this stuff a lot more than I read fiction!

Every time my bestie and I met up to smoke hookah or go for a walk… or even at the gym, the topic of our workplaces was brought up. There were always outlandish stories to tell and hundreds of good jokes to make.

At Boola-boola, the best employees would be sentenced to house arrest following some envious gossip breakout. The gossiper’s intentions were never questioned — maybe because they were the boss’ pets, and the suspect was never told what the crime is. Moreover, some clown would all of a sudden turn off the whole company’s internet connection and that would go unquestioned, managers kept reporting each other to top management about nonsense and secret meetings would be held to conspire against the weakest employee and to innovate bully strategies.

Almost every two days, I had a story to tell my best friends abroad, and it always felt like telling a horror story at night in the wild around a bonfire. I have become a story-telling guru.

6) Not only do you step outside your comfort zone, but you actually live outside it.

Nietzsche summed it all up when he said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

We are continuously urged to step out of our comfort zones because success resides there. And, no, I did not waste my time at Boola-boola. That experience impacted my life and my personality. It enriched my understanding of the world and was an eye-opener for me to see how dirty, unfair and tough this world can be… and to discover the true warrior in me.

My comfort zone is the classy place where I was raised, but usually those who eventually make it to the top are not the ones who lead easy lives. You won’t feel satisfied and achieved unless you go through some hardship and beat the odds. Titles are meaningless and so is wealth. What matters most is who you see when you look in the mirror.

I was bullied as a child, as a teenager and as a young adult at international firms, but none was a match for the Boola-boola experience. No one imagined that I would stand, let alone survive, an environment like that… my parents were betting that I would give up within a couple of months, but I did not.

Stepping out of your comfort zone means doing things you don’t feel comfortable with, getting outside of your comfort levels, pushing yourself in unfamiliar places and doing things that you wouldn’t normally do.

Thanks to Boola-boola, I learned that I was resilient and strong beyond my wildest dreams.

Originally published at anantello.blogspot.com

Once upon a time, in a faraway land, I worked for a company that seemed very beautiful on the outside — at least in my eyes, but on the inside… ugh! Please don’t get me started!

The person who hired me did not understand a word in my resume, nor was he familiar with anything I said during the interview… and that was just for starters. I was simply an alien who made a bad career decision and landed on Planet Boola-boola. I had a huge brain which was only good at criticizing me, a set of large eyes that could not see the very obvious ugliness around and shiny, blue skin which barely appealed to anyone on that planet.

Back then, I fell in love with Boola-boola! I decided to work at that company for a month so I would write a book about my ‘exotic adventure’, or maybe at least a series of blog posts. However, unfortunately I spent a lot more than a month in that place and only wrote angry diary entries and frustrated WhatsApp messages to my besties. For a while, it turned into a challenge. I wanted to make a significant difference in the place as if I were a heroine in a movie — funny, I know. I did make a difference, but God knows it costed me a lot and was not worth it at all — reminds me of the difference Tilly from “The Dressmaker” movie made when she returned to her small town in rural Australia.

The place was horrible, but with my sense of humor and my longing for change and adventure, I fell in love with its every single detail. The walls, the windows, the chairs, the tables and the laptops told stories of gigantic bombings, crazed staff and creative wars. The laptop I used was violently scratched and missed around 7 or 8 buttons. When I asked why it was so, they told me it survived the bombing which turned the wall in the conference room in which I sat into pebbles. Having been raised on a boring planet where my best adventures included hailing a cab instead of calling my personal driver, I was thrilled!

Trips to the restroom were not fun at all, but yet I found an adventure in them. Men and women shared the same restroom, which was quite awkward… that’s for one. Two, the poor ole bulb dangling miserably from the ceiling was broken, so there was a chargeable flashlight plugged into a wall socket all the time because, for some reason, if you unplug it, it becomes quite useless. The toilet seat was also very miserable I felt guilty every time I took a piss in it, and my greatest fear was to touch anything in there.

Nevertheless, walls, chairs, laptops and toilet seats were not much of an issue for me. To the contrary actually, they gave me something to make jokes about and laugh. My problem was the extreme lack of professionalism across the company. For a long while, I got depressed and felt helpless. I was stuck unable to figure out what to do. My gut told me to leave, but I did not want to leave without any gains after all the pain, until I sat and reflected on my tenure with Boola-boola. I figured there were countless gains, and the following are a handful of them.

1) An unhealthy work environment helps you discover the ‘gangsta’ inside you.

I was used to being the utterly nice, joyous and absolutely professional person at the workplace with a sense of humor most — if not all — people around me enjoyed.

However, I got to unleash the beast inside me at Boola-boola … in fact, I discovered for the very first time in my career life that there was actually a beast inside me. I would switch between ‘professional’ and ‘gangsta’ modes several times a day, which, for many, seemed like dramatic mood swings when in fact I was merely switching to the mode necessary for the situation with which I was faced.

There were people who would not respect me unless I turned the gangsta mode on in full swing. For instance, if I needed, say, to get the miserable, broken A.C. fixed during the hottest month of the year, August, I’d first go about saying, “please”, “s’il vous plait”, “law samaht”, “por favor” and so on, but no one would listen, so I would suddenly awaken the kraken inside me and say in the most fierce of tones, “FIX THE DAMN A.C. AT ONCE!” Worked like a charm.

I did not want to be the kind of person who bossed people around and treated them like dirt, but sometimes a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do.

There were also those who would add top management to the email loop if they wanted to ‘scare’ you. That really waked the kraken inside me because I’m not someone who accepts being threatened, and it only encouraged me to disrespect the top management who did not penalize that kind of immature behavior… but mostly fostered it.

When you’re surrounded by hypocrites, insecure bullies, failures with titles and vulgar people who lack integrity and a proper upbringing, you need to unleash that dragon locked inside you.

2) Teaches you a thing or two about gratitude.

I was a brat and took all my previous jobs at several wonderful international companies for granted. I even refused a job offer from one of the most famous business magazines in the universe because I wanted to go on an adventure, and thought back then, “How adventurous could working for a perfect company be?”

I did not understand back then that working for international companies was a luxury, so I was not grateful… and consequently, I was punished.

The more grateful you are, the more good you receive from the Universe (from God), and when you’re not grateful at all, you eventually lose your blessings and everything you took for granted and whined about.

Sometimes the only way for us to learn is through punishment, but that is not the end. As long as we’re still alive, things can get better. You don’t like where you are? Look for the good in everything bad and be grateful. A new door to happiness will surely open and you will forget this whole mess ever happened.

You could be too depressed to see anything good, but that is okay, I’ll tell you how I managed it. I bought a mini notebook with a beautiful teddy bear cover (the cuteness bit was for motivational purposes) and at the end of every work day I wrote 3–5 things I was grateful for. Some of my entries were like, “Glad I don’t have Bruno’s hyena smile”, “Thank goodness for headsets”, “One of my teammates said a good joke today”, “I made someone smile”, “I’m grateful I don’t work for our sister company”, “Glad I’m the one who’s changing the company’s culture” and “My existence threatens many and that is proof I am overqualified”.

Among the many benefits of gratitude is that it improves physical and psychological health, it enhances empathy and reduces aggression, improves self-esteem, increases mental strength and helps one sleep better.

Be grateful and remember: the sun smiles after every storm.

3) Adds to your life experiences.

I learned that life can be utterly unfair. Hard work does not pay off, slackers and bullies get easily promoted, professionals are not appreciated, the bad guy wins and backstabbers make it big while good people weep over their wounds.

At Boola-boola, we spent months with no direct management, but I was used to working without the direct supervision of my managers because: 1) I am not a child, 2) I was there to work and hated having my time wasted and 3) I am responsible enough and can supervise and evaluate my own performance perfectly well.

However, that was not the case for my coworkers. Within a couple of hours, they turned the place into an animated zoo. Dance parties were thrown every 15 minutes and every hour was lunch hour. I suffer from ADHD, and so staying focused was already an issue. I had to fight with almost everyone every day, but they wouldn’t cut the crap, so I put up with them until we were finally granted some manager.

Apparently, my new manager was impressed by my demeanor, skills and expertise and later on explained to me that his first mission was to “get rid of me”. Yes, it is what you’re thinking. Instead of commending me on my dedication to work, some nark went to the top management and trash-talked me… and obviously, the management’s source of information was some insecure liar.

I witnessed slackers and major schemers get promoted while I sat there working my a** off and hoping my hard work would pay off like it usually did… but no, I was not appreciated or recognized in any way. Actually, they did recognize me for my hard work only by dumping more responsibilities on my plate without making an effort to promote me or give me a pay raise. To the contrary actually, I was insulted and disrespected.

I promised myself that I would show appreciation to everyone who put the least effort into doing anything because now I know what it feels like to have my light dimmed.

4) Helps you learn more about the power of words.

The words that escape your mouth are not merely sound waves, spit and air. They can hurt others and prove you unworthy. Your words actually say a lot about you and the way you were raised.

I had to listen to some bully say to me out of the blue, “I can replace you within two weeks.” It’s a given that when companies lose a talent they immediately rush to replacing them, but only an insecure, extremely scared bully would say it to an employee’s face. He was feeling worthless and replaceable, so he said it to one of the most talented, hardworking people he knew.

You know what that encouraged me to do? Leave and replace the whole company where I was paid badly, treated poorly and unappreciated!

I also listened to him — as he met me to give me a counteroffer — tell me that the only place I’d go to if I left that company would be a ‘cowshed’. You can now imagine what kind of Boola-boola that was.

Moreover, some managers would have the guts to come to me and say stuff like, “If you say this, you are not professional.” And “If you do that, you are not professional.” Really? But how much do they know about professionalism?

Planting spies between employees, hiring people without proper contracts, terminating employees in a moment of rage, bullying employees, provoking and encouraging gossip, undermining team members in front of their coworkers, conspiring against their employees, openly practicing political incorrectness at the workplace and kicking employees out of the office was just how professional Boola-boola was.

5) Gives you something to vent on and joke about instead of — or besides — politics.

I almost totally quit writing about politics while I worked at Boola-boola because there were sexier topics at my workplace! I was never interested in reading books or articles about the workplace, but now I read this stuff a lot more than I read fiction!

Every time my bestie and I met up to smoke hookah or go for a walk… or even at the gym, the topic of our workplaces was brought up. There were always outlandish stories to tell and hundreds of good jokes to make.

At Boola-boola, the best employees would be sentenced to house arrest following some envious gossip breakout. The gossiper’s intentions were never questioned — maybe because they were the boss’ pets, and the suspect was never told what the crime is. Moreover, some clown would all of a sudden turn off the whole company’s internet connection and that would go unquestioned, managers kept reporting each other to top management about nonsense and secret meetings would be held to conspire against the weakest employee and to innovate bully strategies.

Almost every two days, I had a story to tell my best friends abroad, and it always felt like telling a horror story at night in the wild around a bonfire. I have become a story-telling guru.

6) Not only do you step outside your comfort zone, but you actually live outside it.

Nietzsche summed it all up when he said, “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.”

We are continuously urged to step out of our comfort zones because success resides there. And, no, I did not waste my time at Boola-boola. That experience impacted my life and my personality. It enriched my understanding of the world and was an eye-opener for me to see how dirty, unfair and tough this world can be… and to discover the true warrior in me.

My comfort zone is the classy place where I was raised, but usually those who eventually make it to the top are not the ones who lead easy lives. You won’t feel satisfied and achieved unless you go through some hardship and beat the odds. Titles are meaningless and so is wealth. What matters most is who you see when you look in the mirror.

I was bullied as a child, as a teenager and as a young adult at international firms, but none was a match for the Boola-boola experience. No one imagined that I would stand, let alone survive, an environment like that… my parents were betting that I would give up within a couple of months, but I did not.

Stepping out of your comfort zone means doing things you don’t feel comfortable with, getting outside of your comfort levels, pushing yourself in unfamiliar places and doing things that you wouldn’t normally do.

Thanks to Boola-boola, I learned that I was resilient and strong beyond my wildest dreams.

P.S. “Planet Boola-boola” is a fictional company that resembles bad work environments, and if it were anything like a real company you’ve dealt with, then that is merely coincidence.