I Survived Corporate America or Why I Believe in Playbooks

My most vivid memories during my 90-day probationary period at my new job in corporate America include seeing not one, but two managers crying at their desks.  Some background: although I had a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Business Administration, several years of living overseas as a military spouse did not provide opportunities for relevant, current experience. The best job I could find was an hourly, entry-level position as a quality auditor with a national savings and loan in the loan processing department. My goal was to switch to management as fast as possible – at least it was until I saw the second manager sobbing into her hands in her not-so-private cubicle.

When I finally did drink the manager Kool-Aid (doing so with great hope and optimism), nothing prepared me for the huge surge in responsibility and utter lack of true management training. There was plenty of excellent process and procedure training for the job functions but management training strictly consisted of whatever advice you could glean from peer or supervisory managers. If they were inexperienced or indifferent or just certified morons, you were left to your own devices. 

People in many industries today are still stewing in the same soul-sucking cauldron of high pressure and high stress that is saturated with a huge dose of YOYO (Your Own Your Own) hot sauce.  It is not so grim for high-level managers and executives, though; they can afford the hundreds to thousands of dollars it costs to hire an executive coach or organizational psychologist to get help with serious business issues. What about lower level managers or new small business owners?  They can't afford executive coaches or week-long seminars.  However, they can drop $30 a pop for business self-help books and hope that, if they do find the time on top of their already 50-hour work week, that the miracle cure for their problem is somewhere in that book. If they can't find any books, maybe the answer can be found spending lots of time with Google. Maybe you will find effective help. Maybe.

Eighteen months ago, this insightful organizational psychologist I know asked me what I thought about an idea she had: creating affordable, self-paced, online, in-depth solutions to common business-management problems for small business owners, lower-level managers, and business employees.  She called them "Playbooks."  To say that I thought this idea was great is an understatement. Playbooks would be the affordable answer for small business owners who have great products or services but little-to-no management experience.  Playbooks could help new managers (like me when I first started in management) in the business world, profit and non-profit, that are doing the best they can without the support and training they need.

I believe in Playbooks so much that I joined Maze Runners Consulting in August of 2015.  I work with organizational psychologist Dr. Elizabeth (Betsy) Eubanks to develop Playbooks designed to help solve common business-damaging and morale-deflating problems.  Maze Runners Consulting's motto is "Making Work a Game You Win."  We want the Playbooks to not only help you to solve problems, but to also help you enjoy what you do and to make your career or business even more successful.

The first Playbook, called Launchpad Learning, shows you how Playbooks work. The Playbooks are divided into sections that provide information to address the problem you are trying to solve, reinforce what you learned through exercises, and give you guidance on how to practice what you learned. 

There is no cost to compete Launchpad Learning and it is required to complete it before you can move on to another one. We have set it up this way because we want to make sure that you like Playbooks before you spend any of your hard-earned money.

The Playbooks will be ready in the coming spring and we will post the announcement in our newsletter, Notes from the Maze.  If you would like to sign up for our newsletter, just click here (Just so you know: we will not give out or sell any of your information.) If you prefer not to sign up for our newsletter, you can go to our website and click on “Playbooks” to check if they are available.

What problems would you like addressed by a Playbook? Simply send an email to with the word “Problem” in the subject line. 

Look for additional articles describing the first four Playbooks and how they work. We are very excited about Playbooks and hope you will try them.  Life is too short to stew in misery at work if you can avoid it.  We want you to enjoy your job, whether you are job-sharing, an entry-level supervisor, or running your own company.  We are dedicated to Making Work a Game You Win.

Tracy Starkey

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