Jessica Williams

OVEREMPLOYED with SVP People Jessica Williams

Jessica WilliamsSenior Vice President of People

Jessica is the SVP at Refine Labs, but before she landed this position and recent promotion, Jessica spent her lockdown working for two different companies full-time! Tuning in, you’ll hear all about her experience of working two jobs for 12 to 15 hours a day ranging from how she managed her time all the way to what eventually made her decide to work only one job. Jessica tells us what should make you consider taking on two jobs, how she would handle one of her employees wanting to do so, how her old employees reacted when they eventually found out (two years later,) and why slacking off is not an option! We also discuss the ownership that companies think they have over their employees and why it’s a thing of the past before delving into when overemployment becomes an issue. Finally, she tells us what her ultimate career-based goal is and how she plans on achieving it.

Episode Transcript


[00:00:05] RS: Welcome to Talk Talent to Me, a podcast featuring the most elite talent leaders on the front lines of modern recruitment.

[00:00:12] FEMALE: We actually want to understand the themes of someone’s life. We want to understand how they make decisions, where they’re willing to take risks, and what it looks like when they fail.

[00:00:22] RS: No holds barred, completely off the cuff interviews with directors of recruitment, VPs of global talent, CHROs, and everyone in between.

[00:00:31] FEMALE: Once I went through the classes and the trainings and got the certifications through diversity inclusion, I still felt something was missing.

[00:00:39] MALE: Talent Acquisition. It’s a fantastic career. You are trusted by the organization. You get to work with the C-suite, and the security at the front desk, and everybody in between, and everybody knows you.

[00:00:52] RS: I’m your host, Rob Stevenson, and you’re about to hear the best in the biz. Talk Talent To Me.


[00:00:58] RS: Here with me today, on Talk Talent To Me is the SVP of people over at Refined Labs, Jessica Williams. Jessica, welcome to the show. How are you today?

[00:01:07] JW: I am doing amazing. I’m so excited for this conversation.

[00:01:11] RS: Me as well. Refine Labs, that is the one and only company you work for, correct?
[00:01:15] JW: Yes, at the current time, I just have one employer. I see that happening for the foreseeable future, but you’ll never know.

[00:01:22] RS: We’ll never know… Leave it open, right? Never say never. You also, since we spoke last, you have gone from VP of people, to SVP of people. Congratulations are in order.

[00:01:32] JW: Thank you. It’s been a long time coming. I’m on the road. I keep telling people I’m on the path to become a chief people officer. That’s the ultimate goal. So that’s my next, I think that’s my next step.

[00:01:42] RS: First, what do you think is a step from VP to SVP?

[00:01:46] JW: Well, for me in my current role, that means I’m taking over like when I was doing all things VP, I’m now taking over the financial model for the HR department. Basically, all people ops and talent, I’m going to do all the budgeting with our CFO. I was in those conversations, but I didn’t own the process and that’s going to be the biggest difference is that I now get to own all of that. It’s all mine, I get my own budget, but I can say what I need, which before I was doing it, but I was doing it through my chief operating officer who is who I report to, so now I get to own it for myself. That’s the major difference, but I still have the same team. I’m still having the same culture and initiatives and all those things. Now I get to own the budget. I want the purse strings.

[00:02:27] JW: Right. Yeah. Yeah. Congrats. It sounds like before you had been doing it, but it was more like, “Hey, here’s my recommendation for what we should do. Now it’s “This is what we’re doing.”

[00:02:36] JW: Yes, exactly.

[00:02:37] RS: Amazing. Then the follow up I want to ask is, what do you think in your mind is the difference between SVP and Chief People Officer?

[00:02:45] JW: If I’m being honest, I don’t see that much of a difference. Depending on where you are. I know places where like they don’t even have a Chief People Officer like right now we don’t have one. My reporting structure is not going to change. I see it for me as growth in the organization. So as the company continues to grow, we’re a small early stage company. We only have 100 employees. As the company grows, then I would then grow into my role as Chief People Officer. Where I’m at right now in a startup? It makes sense to grow with the company, but at a lot of organizations, there’s really no difference, but the money’s different, you know what, that I will say that.

[00:03:21] RS: Yeah. Yeah. There’s that sweet, sweet sea level thing you can put on your LinkedIn and a nice little bump in your [inaudible 00:03:27] there. I want that for you, too. I want you to crush this SVP role for long enough, that like, “Ah, right. Your Chief People Officer.”

[00:03:36] JW: Let’s do it. That’s where we are. Now let’s go back a little bit and learn about you, Jessica. Would you mind walking us through your journey, how you got going in talent and how you wound up at refined labs?

[00:03:48] JW: Yeah. So actually, funny enough, I wanted to go to medical school. My background is in psychology. I went to the University of Sydney, and got my master’s in International Public Health, thinking that I was going to come back and go to the University of Texas Medical School. I actually got accepted. Now I look back and I say it was an epiphany at the time. It was a breakdown. I have little bit of a breakdown and decided that I don’t want go to school anymore, because I didn’t actually take a break from my undergrad, my masters like in the span of two weeks, I moved from Dallas, Texas, to Sydney, Australia, and started a master’s program and I was tired. I was tired of going to school.

I convinced the University of Texas that like, “Hey, I don’t know what I’m going through. I’m going through something let me defer my enrollment.” So they let me defer, but in the midst of that I had to get a job, because I had no money. I got a job, a contract job working as a recruiter. I was brave enough to tell my manager at the time like, “Hey, I actually don’t think I want to go to medical school, but it sounds crazy to my family that I’ve done all of this work. I have the grades. I got accepted and that I wouldn’t go.” She was like, “You know, could work in business. You can work in HR.” At the time I had no clue what HR was.

I took this job, just because it seemed too easy. I was just going to do it for six months. That was 11 years ago. I stayed at that job for three years. They hired me on from my contract. I went into an HR generalist role. I had a manager who was willing to really nurture me and teach me everything that she knew. I grew from there. I went from a generalist to a manager, ended up moving from Houston to Chicago, to go director role at a small startup. Fun fact, I worked for a crime scene cleanup company in Chicago. I was their first HR director, a lot of great stories about cleaning up crime scenes. Then from there, I moved back to Texas, and I’ve gone from there from director to VP and all of that.

Along the way, obviously 2020 was a big year for everybody, but along the way, I had an epiphany and 2020 of, I’m bored. I have always been a high achiever. Everything about me is I get things done. So I sat around and thought, I’m so bored, could I work another job? Would that work? Something in me said, why not? Why wouldn’t I try it out? So that’s how I ended up having two HR jobs at one time. This was at the beginning of 2020. I want to set the context where I was at home, I could not leave my home, give you some insight about my personal life at the time, my dad was battling breast cancer. So for me, in order for me to be able to see him, I had to not leave my house.

I legit, when I say didn’t leave my house, there would be days where I did not leave my house, because I could not be around other people for fear of if I want to see my dad, and he’s in the middle of chemo. I don’t want to give him COVID, you know what I mean? I truly had nothing else to do with my time. I was bored. I thought, I’m a high achiever. Why couldn’t I work two jobs and get away with it? So I did.

[00:06:48] RS: Here we are, hell yeah. That moment where you’re like, “Look, I’m shut inside. I can’t do anything. I can’t go anywhere. I can’t do any of my regular hobbies.” You could have taken up cross stitching or written a novel or remodeled you painted your house something. What made you decide instead of to spend your time just doing some frittering away your time on some new hobby. You’re like, what if my new hobby was just another job?

[00:07:12] JW: Yeah. Let me be clear. I’m money motivated. Okay. People don’t like to say that, but I’ll say it. I’m money motivated and in my mind, I thought, well, at the time I was a single woman, it’s like, “Well, why not?” I’m the only one supporting me, why wouldn’t I get another job? Now, mind you, I did take up a hobby. I love yoga. I literally started doing yoga in my living room, but that’s like 45 minutes, so that wasn’t really enough to occupy my time. I thought, why not get another job? As I was doing this, as I was thinking, “Could I pull this off?” I remember thinking, I have to be the only one that thinks this way. I didn’t know there was a community of other people thinking the same way, but I remember thinking I’m the only one smart enough to do this. Yeah, I look back and think that’s funny.

[00:07:57] RS: It is. It is. I want to do – yeah. Shout out for calling out that your money motivated. You’re right, people will get uncomfortable with saying that, but it’s capitalism baby. That is literally like the ideology that drives business. Okay. Especially early in your career. Why do you want this job? I’m broke.

[00:08:17] JW: Yeah.

[00:08:17] RS: That’s the main reason. I got to tell you, there’s a big drop off to reason, too. So that I don’t think should be shameful at all. Then, when it comes to the adding a second job, I am so excited to talk to you about this, because I talked about this a lot on the show, and just this notion that you are being paid for 40, 50, 60 hours a week, but It’s quite possible that your job doesn’t take you that long. That it actually takes you 25 hours a week. That if you are really efficient, it shouldn’t take you 40, 50, 60 hours a week. So what do you do with that remaining time?

In your case, you’re like, “Well, I’ll fill up my time. I will continue working.” Right? Like, you could just, “Oh, I’ll go for walks and I’ll get really into painting.” I don’t see the problem, though with adding work to it. I guess, I’m like a kid in a candy store right now, because I wanted to talk to about this for so long. I don’t know which element of it to attack first. I guess, can we start with just the logistics of can I even do this job? Let’s not even indulge the like, should I? The thought experiment is, could I? Can I have two jobs? Have bosses from two different jobs, two different slack instances, two computers, meeting schedules? Is it possible to juggle that? How did you attack just the time constraints of needing to have two jobs?

[00:09:27] JW: Yeah. For me one of the ways and I look back the way it worked for me and the reason I could pull it, I pulled this off for 12 months. I want to be clear. I did this for an entire year. That was not the plan in the beginning. The plan was just to do it for 90 days to see if I could do it. Then I kept moving the goal, but I did it for an entire year, but I want to be clear that both jobs I was a director level. That is what helped me, because I was in control of my calendar. No one was really telling me what to do, because I was a director. I was a director of HR at both roles. So there was a lot of transfer of knowledge, like it wasn’t like I was working in HR, and then working in engineering. You know what I mean? They were the same role at different companies.

Now, these companies were not competitors in any way, shape, or form. One was in Healthcare. One was in oil and gas, completely separate. They were in different time zones. One was in central at the time, I was in Texas, and one was on the west coast. The different time zones also helped me, because I could be different time zones, all that good stuff. But I think if you’re going to do this, you have to have some level of independence to your job, or it won’t work. If someone’s micromanaging you or something like, really looking into what you’re doing day-to-day, this will not work. But it worked because I was the director at both roles and that was very, very important. When I started to interview for these roles, I specifically found a role that was just like what I was already doing. I’m talking about when I looked at the job description, everything that they wanted in the second job I was already doing in the first job.

[00:10:58] RS: This phenomenon of over employment, it came on my radar with this hacker news post around like late 2020. The poster had said, I have had nine different full-time jobs this year. I’m going to W2 a few million dollars just in base compensation. The reason I’ve been able to do it is, hiring is a joke, right now, because everyone needs software engineers, and you breeze through the interview process. Also, because of COVID and the civil unrest that was going on companies are really understanding to you, missing meetings, missing deadlines, not being responsive, whatever. This person, in the example, the first example I experienced, was deliberately doing a bad job, and was basically saying like look, “Each of these jobs will fire me, but it will take them so long to fire me that I will just bank these multiple paychecks while they build a case of terminating me.” When people bring this ethical consideration of like, “Oh, how can you work two jobs?” That to me is the only point.

[00:11:57] JW: Yeah.

[00:11:57] RS: To the ethical conversation, if you are deliberately doing a bad job and deceiving your employers. Now, that person was deliberately half-assing or more accurately, one-ninth-assing their employment. Jessica, it doesn’t strike me that you have to ask anything.

[00:12:12] JW: No. Not my style.

[00:12:13] RS: From what I know about you, what was the performance of doing two jobs at once like for you?

[00:12:17] JW: Yeah. So it never crossed my mind that I would slack or that I would do less at the second job or the first job. That never even crossed my mind. I was actually offered a promotion at both jobs. The reason I ended up leaving the second job, is because they wanted to promote me and give me more direct reports. I take my leadership role very serious. I knew if they added more direct reports that I wouldn’t be able to give them what they needed. So I decided to leave. I was not half-assing it. I was full-assing it at both the jobs. You know what I mean? Like I was going above and beyond and if you go back, if you were to go back and look at all of my performance reviews, I was exceeding expectations at both jobs.

Now mind you, I want to just point out that the only reason I think I could do this was, because the beginning of the pandemic, I didn’t have a social life, but burnout was real. Towards the end, I was clearly in a stage of burnout, because I was working 12, 15 hour days. There was nothing else for me to do. But no, the thought of being like, “Oh, just wait until they fired me that just was never crossed my mind.” I did exactly what they wanted me to do and exceeded their expectations. I just was doing it twice.

[00:13:29] RS: To be clear, neither employer knew about the other one, right?

[00:13:32] JW: No. They found out when I made that LinkedIn post.

[00:13:36] RS: What did they say?

[00:13:38] JW: No one is, I mean, one person and not my previous manager, but one person that was a peer to me, reached out and was like, “Oh, my God. I can’t believe this. How did you pull this off? We would have never known.” They know now, but like two years later, but no, they never knew the whole time.

[00:13:54] RS: What do you think they would have said if they found out? You think they would have been like, “It’s him or me? You have to make a decision.”

[00:13:59] JW: Yeah. I think they would have been upset, but I think they would have been upset, because they believe in ownership. I own your time. All of these things. I don’t believe that. I think that you are paying me to deliver a task for my thought leadership specifically in a director role. I gave that to you. If you’re mad, I don’t really care.

[00:14:20] RS: Can you speak on that notion of ownership a little more?

[00:14:23] JW: Yeah. I think a lot of companies and this is very, I find this to be very boomer centric. I’ve heard this from a lot of boomers, where they’re like, “No, no, no, you are being paid for 40 hours.” Let me be clear. Specifically, years ago, I worked in an organization where I can tell you right now, I was getting my job done in half the time and I was bored out of my mind and I would literally go walk the floor and just talk to people, because I had nothing else do.

[00:14:52] RS: Killing time.

[00:14:53] JW: Just killing time every day, all day. I could get my work done in two, three hours a day. I was literally told I had to stay in the building until five o’clock. So you think you own my time, so the game has changed. Like being in a digital space now, you don’t own my time. I am doing a task for you. I did the task. Now if I wanted to, I could go sit on my couch. If I wanted to, I could go for a walk, but I wanted to just go work on and do something else. The thought of ownership, I think those days are over. If that’s the way you think about your employees that I own 40 hours a week from you, you’re so out of the loop.

[00:15:33] RS: You’re right. The game has changed, because there’s not this expectation of being in office. This would be really hard, maybe impossible to pull off if you were in the office, because it wouldn’t even be as simple as like, “Oh, I do my job for the company at whose office I’m in. Then I switch and do the other job.” No, because presumably you’re using their computer, using their internet, they can argue that’s all their property. That’s a huge breach, right? That would be a problem. But now you’re at home, you’re using your own internet, you might be using your own computer, or probably you were sent a computer from each company –

[00:16:07] JW: Yeah. I have two separate computers, like two – I’m talking two separate computers, two separate keyboards. I have divided it up. You should have seen the way I just toggle back and forth like one computers up, I have a big screen. Yeah, it was completely separate.

[00:16:21] RS: How long did you keep this up?

[00:16:23] JW: For a whole year. The goal kept changing like I said, originally, it was 90 days. I was going to do this for 90 days. I had these financial goals. My original goal was I’m going to save $25,000. I got to 25,000. I thought, wouldn’t it be crazy if I say 50,000?

[00:16:38] RS: Yeah.

[00:16:39] JW: I got 50 and I thought, well, wouldn’t it be really crazy? So by the time I was done, I had saved $100,000, just sitting in my savings account.

[00:16:48] RS: At what point did you decide, “Okay, let’s stop this.” Were you just tired? What happened?

[00:16:52] JW: I think it was a combination. I had hit the financial goal. Never in my life did I think I would have $100,000 in savings. Let me be very clear. I did not grow up with money. Everything that I have is because I hustled for it and I bought it for myself. No one like, you know the saying, no one’s going to save you. No one was coming to save me. The only way that I was going to ever be financially free, is if I, Jessica, hustle for it. So I was willing to do that. I hit the financial goal. I had $100,000. I was completely burnt out. They wanted to promote me. I like, literally they – I felt bad, because they did on a Thursday, they called me in and they’re like, “Jessica, you’re doing amazing. We want to promote you.” On Monday I quit, because I was like, “Listen, I don’t want to promotion. No.” They definitely tried to convince me to stay. Obviously, they didn’t know that I was like, “Listen, I got another job.” I was just like, “This isn’t working out. I don’t want to be promoted.” But yeah, it was the combination of all three that. I was like, “It’s time for me to go.”

[00:17:49] RS: You just cut down one of your jobs. You cut down both and got a third to replace those two?

[00:17:54] JW: Yeah.

[00:17:56] RS: Okay. You were just like, you hit the goal, you executed. At this point, presumably, vaccines are starting to come out. People are starting to get back outside again. You’re like, “Okay, I have opportunity to do things besides be in my apartment.”

[00:18:08] JW: Yeah. I took some time off. I financially had enough money to take some time off. I took about three months off. Then that’s when I found Refine Labs and started at my current employer as a VP. But yeah, financially like, I took a trip. I went to San Antonio. I went to San Francisco like, I was all around. Anybody that like, once I got my vaccine, you couldn’t tell me anything, I was going everywhere.

[00:18:30] RS: Yeah. Just a trail of $100 bills in your wake. Oh, gosh. The world starts opening back up. People are getting back out there. This phenomenon that was born in part from being able to do it remotely during lockdown, lockdown ends, but the phenomenon does not, people are still doing it. You are not, right? You have one job. Under what circumstances do you think someone ought to consider this?

[00:19:01] JW: Once I made that LinkedIn post, so many people want to slid in my DMs and told me they’re doing it. They’re actively doing it right now. If you’re listening to this, especially if you’re in talent management or recruiter, I know so many recruiters that are doing this, right now. The phenomenon is real. Then two, what I would say if you want to do this, I think it’s really hard to do it if you don’t have a level of independence. For a recruiter, obviously, they’re recruiting all day. They’re on the phones, what’s the difference if they’re recruiting for one company or the next company? So that’s why I think it’s easy for that particular role, but specifically in software engineers, I can think of three software engineers off the top of my head right now that have two jobs, and they’re killing it.

Level of independence, but to be quite honest, if somebody in my current employer came to me and told me that they had another job, I would not care. In fact, most of the people at Refine Labs have side hustles, like they have their own businesses, they’re doing all types of creative stuff, and we don’t care. Like just, get hear just get your job done. That’s what we’re paying you to do. Yeah, I have actually started giving people advice on how to do it. After I made that post, people started reaching out like, “Hey, how can I do this?” So maybe I’m now on the advice person. I don’t know. Maybe that’s my newest business.

[00:20:17] RS: It makes all the sense in the world, for recruiting specifically, you’re talking in these candidates say they are not interested in the one company. All right, well, what about this one. Or what if they go through the process, and they don’t get an offer, but it’s like one of these situations where they were great, they were just our second choice, right? We got our first choice, but we hire them if we could. Okay, great, like take them over to – I’m like, “Hey, sorry you didn’t get it, but I got another one for you.” It’s the work you’re already doing. You just send one more email, and then that work is to X, basically, right? For two different companies. I think it needs to be in a different industry, right? I think there’s probably a conflict of interest. If you are – some companies who have more higher security clearance, I can see why one might take issue.

The argument against doing this, it’s like an ethical argument. It goes something like you were saying before, listen, that company hired you to do this job for them. It’s dishonest to have more than one job. If you have time, then you should just be doing more work for the job that you have. This is a straw man version of the ethical argument. Could you present what the criticism is of over employment? Then we’ll just take it down together.

[00:21:26] JW: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think you’re right. It’s the whole thought of ownership. I own you for 40 hours, and you better be doing my work and only my work, which is just a false narrative. I also think people think, to your point earlier about the person that had nine jobs, or however many jobs they had like, “Oh, you’re just lazy. You’re just doing this, but you’re not actually doing the work.” But the people that I know off the top of my head that are doing this right now are working. They’re doing the job. One of them has been doing it for the past two years. They pulled this off for two years. They’re clearly doing the job. It’s the narrative of like, “Oh, you’re just taking the money and you’re not doing the job.” Which is not the case for most people that I know that are doing this. They’re doing it for financial freedom.

[00:22:08] RS: Yes. To make a comparison, we see over employment in lots of other areas.

[00:22:14] JW: Absolutely.

[00:22:15] RS: There’s no issue with it. I’ll give you an example. I’m technically over employed, right? I make podcasts for different companies, because it doesn’t take me 40 hours a week to make one podcast. None of my clients have an issue with it. Now I’m not a W2 employee. They don’t give me benefits. There’s not like, that standard contract that says, “I own you” does not exist, right? Maybe it’s not a one-to-one comparison, but these clients don’t take any issue with it. They know this is going on, it’s not a secret. Another example is like look, you can work at Starbucks, and Target, and McDonald’s, line those jobs –

[00:22:48] JW: All day.

[00:22:49] RS: As long as you stay broke. No one seems to have an issue with it.

[00:22:52] JW: Yes. People have the problem when I say how much money I made. That’s when people have the biggest problem. I say how much money I made, because I want people to know that there is freedom out there. You can go get it, and you could be successful. Like I said, never in my wildest dreams that I think that I could work enough, specifically like, there would be no way I could do this without that being the case. Yeah, I’m really open about it. I’m willing to talk about it, because one, I have a current employer who is like, we don’t care what you did, really. That’s fine like, you’re doing a great job here. Two, I think this is the way of the future. I truly, without a doubt think that the next generation, when I think about I have a niece who’s 21 her generation wouldn’t think twice about doing this.

[00:23:37] RS: Definitely not. You answered this earlier, but I want to hear you speak on a little bit more. Now that you are the SVP, you’re responsible for a big team, a growing team, presumably, you said that if one of your employees was doing this, you would not take issue with it?
[00:23:53] JW: No.

[00:23:54] RS: Would it ever occur to you like, “Oh, I need to give them more work, or if they have time to do their job for me and another job and they clearly can do it more for me.” What would your approach be with an employee doing this?

[00:24:05] JW: No I wouldn’t care at all. I think the reason I wouldn’t care is because it wouldn’t change the work that I’m giving them. If I’m giving you all the work that I need you to do, and it’s getting done, what you’re doing outside of that is none of my business. I actually made a post the other day about my team taking naps. People were pissed, because I said, “Oh, I tell my team to take naps all the time.” They’re like, “They should be working and it’s between eight and five.” I’m like, “I do not care if the work is getting done. Take a nap. Work another job. Go do yoga. I don’t care.”

[00:24:35] RS: If a boss had a problem with me napping, if I’m napping through meetings, that’s one thing, or like napping a lot and missing targets, missed like not doing my work, different story. But I could not accept that. This is like the, “Oh, you should be working.” Who are these people who are just loving, getting the boot of capitalism stomped on them that like are worshipping this notion that was, you gave up autonomy and independence, and you are just making the sacrifice at the altar of your boss.

[00:25:04] JW: Yeah. I know. I don’t believe in it. I think that narrative is very outdated and to my point, I do think this is the way of the future, because we are not going back to 2019. Everyone is not going back to the office. No, I don’t care what any CEO says about it. It’s not going to happen. This will continue. I think we’re getting to the point where we have a lot of people now that like digital nomads, and people want to do freelancing, and they want to work multiple jobs, and they only want to work for three months and then take three months off. This is the way that it’s going to be in the future. I just got ahead of it.

[00:25:39] RS: Yeah. Did you ever have anxiety that one of the companies would find out?

[00:25:44] JW: Absolutely, 100%. There was actually a day and people asked me, too. How did you – did you ever have meetings overlap? I actually did. One day have a meeting overlap. I ended up logging in. I basically logged into zoom at two different companies and had myself off camera and on mute, and was engaging in the chat in both companies. Yeah, there were definitely days where I thought they were going to find out. In my head, once I had gotten to about 50k. I didn’t care, because it was like, find out, fire me. I don’t care.

[00:26:11] RS: Yeah. I did it. Yeah, it’s all gravy at this point, right? I already did what I wanted to. That sense of freedom comes up in these conversations a lot where, oh, you got laid off from job two and you’re like, “I don’t care.” Right? “I still have another job.” This is job security in a world where you are expected to give loyalty to a company that when the shoe is on the other foot doesn’t need to give it back.

[00:26:35] JW: Yeah.

[00:26:36] RS: It is smart to cultivate these options. It is smart to now put all of your eggs in one basket, because the company isn’t putting all their eggs in your basket, right? They’re not necessarily expecting you to spend your whole career there. If times are hard, they will get rid of you.

[00:26:48] JW: Yeah. I work in HR.

[00:26:49] RS: Then it’s on you.

[00:26:51] JW: I’m the one who has done layoffs before. I have laid people off before. I have been on that side of the table. I have also been laid off before. I have a very keen sense of I am in control of what happens to me. I will not rely on a company. I will not rely on a manager. I will decide what will happen to me. When I decided I’m going to work two jobs, it was because I’m going to get to a point where I am financially free enough that I can do what’s best for me. Taking that ownership pisses people off, because they’re like, “You can’t do that.” “Yes, I can. Yes, I did.”

[00:27:26] RS: Yeah. Yeah. Because it just it shakes up this expectation of how work is meant to go. We’re going to use our psychology degrees, Jessica.

[00:27:35] JW: Yeah.

[00:27:36] RS: I do think, when people hear this, they have to immediately attack it, because if there’s merit to the idea, then they have to admit that they may have done something wrong this whole time. Then they’re like, “Oh, well, if this is such a good idea, then was I wrong?” No, that can’t be right. I will just tell myself that it’s wrong. I will attack it to validate the decisions I’ve made in lieu of doing this.

[00:28:00] JW: Yeah. My family was the only people that knew when in the midst of it what I was doing. My mom thought it was the greatest idea she ever heard of. She’s a social worker. She’s worked for the State of Texas for years. She was like, “Absolutely, do it.” Yeah. She was the only person who knew when I was actually in the middle of doing it. She called me like, “How’s it going at job number one? How’s it going at job number two?” That’s how we refer to them. It was job A and B. I was like “How job A? How job B?” Yeah, I talked to my family about it, because like I said, I didn’t grow up with money. The thought that I was able to do this and save up that amount of money to my family was mind blowing.

[00:28:41] RS: Yeah. It’s revolutionary. It hasn’t been possible historically, right?

[00:28:45] JW: Yeah.

[00:28:45] RS: It’s really exciting to hear.

[00:28:48] JW: Yeah.

[00:28:49] RS: Not to give the link to the PDF of the Anarchist Cookbook here, but let’s do that a little bit. Let’s say you have one job. You’re like, maybe I can pull this off. You are going to go through an interview process. You get the job. It’s all remote, blah, blah, blah. It’s going to work. They’re going to ask you questions like, when are you leaving your first job? Do you have to lie, right? Or what do you say?

[00:29:13] JW: Yeah. You definitely, you are going to have to lie. I basically said I wanted to take three weeks off. So obviously I didn’t, I just stayed working for those three weeks, but I took a week off job one when I started job two. That whole week I took vacation, because that’s an onboarding week, you’re going to be in onboarding classes, you’re depending on how big the company is. You’re going to be in a cohort of other people. So that’s the pro tip that first week at the second job you got to take off on the first job.

[00:29:41] RS: Got it. Yeah. There’s a way to lie only by omission, right, like you’re going to answer a different question than you were asked like, “When’s your last day?” “I don’t know.” Which is not a lie.

[00:29:50] JW: I’m available to start on this day. You don’t just really like, yeah, just say this is what I’m available to start. That’s it.

[00:29:56] RS: You don’t owe them any more information than that, right?
[00:29:58] JW: No.

[00:29:59] RS: You and express that in a congenial way, right? Like, “Oh, when are you finishing up your next job?” “Oh, I’m not sure yet, but I’m looking to take some time off. I’m excited to start on date blank.” Right?

[00:30:09] JW: Yeah.

[00:30:09] RS: There is no lie in that. You are also able to do it in a way that doesn’t cause you to be rude and dismissive to your new co-workers.

[00:30:17] JW: Absolutely.

[00:30:18] RS: That’s a hot tip, take a week off. The other one I’ve heard about meetings is that if there’s an unmissable meeting for one company, schedule yourself a one-on-one with real or fake with company number two, so you don’t get that time booked over it. A one-on-one is move constantly. The majority of my one-on-one’s probably, have been either moved or just delayed or cancelled. It’s not a weird thing to move it. That is just an easy way to block time on your calendar that doesn’t need to be explained. It does feel, it feels rare that there’d be an occasion where there’s just two completely unmissable meetings at the same time.
[00:30:53] JW: Yeah. It’s rear.

[00:30:54] RS: Maybe it’s like, what happens if you, you could just get that bad luck, where oh, it’s team all hands is at 10am for both companies, right, like, oh. What do you do?

[00:31:02] JW: Then log on, put yourself on mute, and they’ll go on camera and log into both meetings. That’s what I did, but to your point, I also put time blocks on both calendars. Basically, every Sunday, I would go through for the whole week for both companies, and block time on both calendars that I had to be in meetings for each other. On Sunday afternoon, it would take me probably an hour to go through and calendar block for both companies so that I could be in all the meetings that I needed to be into. Like I said, it helped that I was a director. I could literally say move this meeting.

[00:31:35] RS: Yeah. Yeah. That was a good call. You have to have a little bit of sway, right?

[00:31:39] JW: Yeah.

[00:31:39] RS: If you have a job where your boss can ping you and say, “Hey, do you have time for meeting right now?” And you can’t say no to that, then this may not be for you, unfortunately.

[00:31:47] JW: Yeah. It’s not going to work.

[00:31:48] RS: The way that people are protecting their time, in other ways is also upsetting. I have a friend who works completely remote. Her birthday was recently, I bought her this beautiful mechanical keyboard. It’s like, “Oh, you’re working from home now. This is for your setup.” She’s like, “Oh, I have the best home setup now. I have the keyboard. I have the ring light. I just got my mouse mover.” Do you know what that is?

[00:32:10] JW: Yes.

[00:32:11] RS: Yeah. The mouse mover is to keep your dot on slack, green.

[00:32:15] JW: Yeah.

[00:32:15] RS: It really bummed me out that this was necessary for her. That if her dot went idle, that was a conversation she had to have. I wouldn’t want to work at a company like that. It’s privileged for me to say so, but that just feels toxic.

[00:32:30] JW: Yeah. I mean, if I had to work somewhere where that was the case, I would quit. Never in the whole year that I was doing this, that someone say like, “Hey, you weren’t here for 30 minutes. What were you doing?” No.

[00:32:39] RS: Yeah. Explain yourself. Were you napping? You better not have been napping or I’ll quit my shift.

[00:32:43] JW: Yeah, better not been napping. You better not work another job.

[00:32:46] RS: Yeah. Yeah. Of course, not. No –

[00:32:48] JW: Just sit there on keyboard.

[00:32:50] RS: Yeah. If your work is done, then you sit and you stare at your screen. Yeah. It’s really silly. Also, this is going on in recruiting and other ways just with different packaging. This is the agency model. If you’re a recruiter for an agency, you’re hiring for a handful of companies, probably. You’re getting billed less than you’re worth, frankly. If you’re able to make hires for three companies at the same time, but that’s the same conversation you’re having. You are talking to one candidate. The job doesn’t work out with client A. So, hey, what about client B, C, D, E, F, right? That’s the same process is going on. If you put it in a nice little package and wrap it up with a little bow. Call it an agency model. No one has a problem with it, but now that you have two W2, suddenly it’s a scandal.

[00:33:31] JW: Yeah. I don’t regret what I did. People have asked me that like, “Do you regret it?” Or “Do you feel bad about it?” I don’t. I don’t feel bad at all. If push came to shove, I’m in a different stage of my life now. I’m about to get married. I want to have a baby. I’m not in a stage in my life where I’m going to work 12, 15 hour days. If it came down to it, and I really needed the money, I would hell, yeah. I’ll do it again.

[00:33:54] RS: I love it. Jessica, I don’t think we’re going to find a better book end than that. I really, I really could keep going, but we’re at optimal podcast length here. Thank you for being candid about this. I’ve been meaning to have this conversation for a long time. No one would go on record into it. You’re very brave. You’re awesome for doing this. Hey, I would love to have you back on and talk about Refine Labs at some point, and talking about the one job that you’re doing currently, because –

[00:34:19] JW: Which I actually love, so yes.

[00:34:21] RS: Which you love, which is your it. It’s made an honest woman out of you.

[00:34:24] JW: Yes, I’m honest now. I have one job.

[00:34:28] RS: Yeah. You’re doing some awesome work over there, but we’ll get to that at some point. I’m sure. For now, though, Jessica, I’ll just say thank you so much for being here. I have absolutely loved this conversation.

[00:34:36] JW: Absolutely. This was fun.


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