February 25, 2024 | Rome, Italy

Little engines that do

By |2018-03-21T19:02:49+01:00October 22nd, 2014|First Person|
Ambition means pulling and pushing. And cutting loose...

ew offices, new colleagues, a new schedule. Not too long ago I resigned as the manager of a Ferrari of a winery. Now I manage communications for a winery that’s more like a vintage Vespa or Lambretta.

And I love it.

I admit it: I’m a runner. I’m one of those people who won’t stay in a job for much over four years. And I’m hardly alone. I can count on one hand people I know in my age group (35-45) who have worked at the same company for more than 10 years. Not that it’s an unpopular idea. I know a number of teachers in the New York City public school system busy racking up the years.

But we’re different from the generations that preceded us. We’re less tied down. Plus, the opportunities to work in one place indefinitely aren’t as abundant. One of the consequences of the shift is that our elders, people of our parent’s generation, interpret our work commitments as mere hobbies. Has work become more of a pastime and less a part of our lives?

Not for me.

On the contrary. A theme weaves through my work — and my life — through all the jobs I’ve had. And I’ve had a few: assistant to New York’s Italian Consul General, high school English teacher in a New York City school known for its risks, literary translator. That theme is language. Communications. It’s far more important to me than the name of any company I’ve been affiliated with. Each day I ask the question: “How can I communicate better to obtain the goals that I strive to reach?”

The challenge is endless. Once I meet them, I find new goals. Sure, I might not have the earnings record of a long-time employee. But I have satisfaction. And, most of all, I feel beholden to no one but myself.

The trick is to choose jobs well. Prestige doesn’t guarantee success or satisfaction at the end of the day, week or year. It’s better to take a job with a smaller company if there’s a good chance to improve the environment there. An honorable role, like a teacher’s, is good only if your heart is in it. Teaching — and I mean real teaching: standing in front of a class and helping students grow — can be the most draining occupation on the planet. Planning and implementation take up the time that a mind could otherwise use to create or dream.

Look carefully at your workplace. In a smaller company you can see the effect each individual has on everyday workplace life. Unless driven by amazing leaders, large companies usually don’t care about individual successes. At the 25-hectare winery where I work now, I’m privy to the creativity of the owner’s dynamic daughter. She trained as a theater set designer and runs the day-to-day operations with an eye for details.

Then there’s the patina of Italian history. The estate dates back to the 1300s and was once owned by Florence’s Ospedale degli Innocenti that made it into a home for the illegitimate children of Florentine nobility that needed to be hidden away. All around me is the luxury of authenticity and the whimsy of vintage. Communicating this kind of vitality is a gratifying challenge.

Having changed jobs so often — did I mention that I love interviews? — I’m frequently asked by friends and family to help them with their CVs. Finding order, clarity and focus amid scattered experiences can be thrilling: It helps you realize who you are and what you want to achieve, something I’ve seen with my own daughters.

So here’s a challenge: look closely at your résumé and see if you really recognize yourself in the jobs you’ve held. Ask yourself what themes run through your professional life. If you’re not satisfied, seek change. Don’t hesitate. Shift gears. Either hit the back roads or the Autostrada. Work, success, stability, a paycheck are integral parts of life. They shouldn’t bring you down.

And yes, I’m happy to take a look at your CV.

About the Author:

Stransky lives Tuscany and wrote the "La Una" column between 2014 and 2017.