CAREERS: Pandora's Problem Page

Q I was hired at my PR agency in June 1998. Those were the early days of the internet boom, when the firm began hiring a lot of people very quickly. I recommended one of my friends for a job, and she was eventually hired. Since then, our workload has been pretty similar. We have both handled pretty significant client work, and I think we both have added a lot to the firm.

Q I was hired at my PR agency in June 1998. Those were the early days of the internet boom, when the firm began hiring a lot of people very quickly. I recommended one of my friends for a job, and she was eventually hired. Since then, our workload has been pretty similar. We have both handled pretty significant client work, and I think we both have added a lot to the firm.

Unfortunately, the MD seems to think my friend is the only one making any contribution. Although she started off in the same job as me, she has already been promoted twice, while I only once. She is no better than I am. I know that. But how do I approach my boss with this subject? I want to let them know that I am very unhappy that my friend, who has less seniority, is advancing at a faster rate than I am. But I don't want to sound like a jerk. How should I handle this?

Mr. D, East Brunswick, NJ

A Sounds like someone has a case of "me too-itis.

Leave your friend out of it.

You need to tackle your own career trajectory with your boss, and yourself.

Had your colleague not been promoted once more than you have, do you think advancement would even be on your mind right now? Or are you just trying to keep up with your friend? Ask yourself honestly if you think you deserve, or even want, a promotion that will entail more responsibility and work, not just a fancy new job title.

If you do decide to approach your boss, don't benchmark yourself against your co-worker. Instead, focus on your own accomplishments and goals.

Q I think I am the only person in the world with this problem. I am a sole practitioner in a firm that specializes in media relations and media training. Like most companies, I experienced a major slump in business, especially in the days following September 11. At first, when things started to get really tight, I was seeking new clients very aggressively, having meetings with contacts, designing proposals to expand business among my existing client base, and reorganizing my accounting and billings systems.

But when things just stayed lean and slow, I gradually started to slow down. I began going into the office a little later, leaving a little earlier, having long lunches. I let my prospects call list languish and, just basically had some down time that lasted about three months.

Now, amazingly, my phone has started to ring with old clients who are gearing up for more work. I know, this is great, right? But I am having the toughest time getting myself reenergized and ready to take on a heavy workload again. What's wrong with me? How can I activate my drive again?

Ms. T, Los Angeles

A A lot of us spent much of the economic boom running around like maniacs, grabbing new business like so much low-hanging fruit, and sacrificing our personal time for the money. When things got tough, there were signs that people were just burnt out. Particularly in the wake of September 11, many ambitious people began to question their priorities. Now that the economy is starting to turn around, and clients are starting to phone, you may be fearing it is the return of the mad merry-go-round. Don't be so hard on yourself. Be careful about not taking on too many new clients.

Try to balance life and work - maybe better than you did during the gold rush. Your energy and enthusiasm will return once you realize you have control over your business, it doesn't control you.

Do you have a problem that no one else has been able to solve? Try Pandora. E-mail her at pandora@prweek.com.

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