Disability Visibility

This book I checked out of the library. The Amazon.com book description testified that the first-person accounts were told “with love and hope.”

A lot of the stories in this collection feature events that dehumanized the disabled person.

The word is Crip to talk about this movement of disability justice. Other people can use the word Crip because I won’t.

Elsewhere in an internet article a person living with a disability compared the pros and cons of viewing your first-person experience through a lens of Positivity or Negativity.

In this Forbes.com essay the author signaled that the distinction between the two views often comes down to your socioeconomic standing in society.

If you live in poverty and have a disability this could alter your frame of reference. Dealing with daily struggles you might focus on the negative parts of your life.

If you are better-off and your finances don’t limit you it might be easier to have a sunny-side up view of your disability.

What do I think? I’ve been in a frenzy of reading Disability and Social Justice first-person accounts. The next book that’s coming my way is Care Work: Dreaming Disability Justice.

The drawback to the Positivity crew’s stance according to the Forbes article is that it can be seen as being critical of disabled individuals who don’t make it the way others do who have disabilities.

My own compassion is rare. My literary agent told me once: “It’s remarkable. You pulled yourself up by your own bootstraps. Yet you have compassion for people who are unable to do that.”

The bootstrap myth is just that–a myth. “It Takes a Village” to live with a disability every day. Those of us who struggle deserve to be given help and compassion. On our terms. Not the terms of the do-gooder who decides they want to help us or thinks that we need their help.

At my job whenever I see someone come in a wheelchair I don’t ever ask: “Do you need help?” The distinction is that I ask them: “Would you like help?” This signals that I understand they are not so disabled that they can’t do things on their own if that is their choice.

As regards focusing on the Positive instead of dwelling on the Negative I’m guilty of this. Not telling anyone how hard my life is. Not expecting outsiders to understand what it’s like to have a disability.

I’m an Optimist. That is my nature. I’ve had to be an optimist, or I wouldn’t have survived what I went through.

In my life I soak up like a sponge what has come to be called “inspiration porn.”

Give me joy and cheer and hope.

The reality is that not all disabilities are equal in severity. This doesn’t matter. Whatever your disability is it’s plenty hard enough for you.

So–I wouldn’t be quick to minimize or discount what a person goes through when they are in remission or have a less chronic illness.

In the coming blog entry I want to start to talk about a topic I’ve become inflamed about: worker’s rights. I’m going to use this blog to expand in detail on what I wrote about in the Working Assets book.

It’s a fine line: who to trust to tell the personal information about your disability.

A book like Disability Visibility is necessary to bring to light the distinctive perspectives personalities and experiences of those of us who have a disability.

Barriers to Employment

One in 5 Americans has a disability from what I’ve read in a book and online.

In the RespectAbility internet article one woman wasn’t getting job offers. She disclosed on interviews that she had a disability. After not getting job offers, she stopped disclosing to hiring managers.

Having an invisible disability is no better. Given the choice to “pass for normal” would you want to? A friend pointed out that a lot of peers don’t want to hide in a closet for the rest of their lives like gay people who pretended they were straight.

“This is part of who I am” is the war cry of many people living with disabilities.

The term used is ableism to refer to how outsiders view a disability as a liability that is aberrant.

Unlike a lot of disability rights activists, I’m okay with being called “courageous” and “inspirational” in the face of adversity. This won’t win me any fans.

To people who use wheelchairs, for instance, rolling around is a normal part of their lives.

What do I think?

The interview is a sales pitch for how you can solve an employer’s need with your service. You want to “close the sale” and get a Yes in the form of a job offer.

As a candidate across the desk, you wouldn’t dwell on deficits and drawbacks.

Sadly, this is how having a disability is perceived: as a limitation on what a person can do.

I have a Visionary archetype. As a Visionary, I had the audacity to think a person with a mental illness could hold a job. In spring 2022 my goal is to publish the book Working Assets: A Career Guide for Peers – Finding and Succeeding at a Job When You Live with a Mental Ilness.

How to risk identifying as a having a disability:

If you’re compelled to be honest you must frame having a disability as giving you the mindset, creative problem-solving skills, and competitive edge to get results for the company. Try quoting the following statistics to make this case:

            A 2018 Accenture study revealed that firms with the best practices in hiring individuals with disabilities saw:

  • Twenty-eight percent higher revenue
  • Double the net income
  • Thirty percent higher profit margins

On average over a four-year period.

I talked about this Accenture study in a prior blog entry.

The fact is that a businessperson might be thinking about the increased health insurance costs that a staff member with a disability could incur.

How to prove you’re a capable and competent worker to a hiring manager in a half-hour interview?

It’s obvious to those of us living with a hardship that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”

A lot of us have grit, strength, and resilience in the face of adversity. How could we not perform better than lazy coworkers or rude coworkers or entitled coworkers?

This is obvious to me. On one interview I went on over 11 years ago the HR person asked me: What hardship did you experience that made you who you are today?”

Sorry, talking about having had a breakdown when I was 22 wasn’t the answer I gave. I talked about what it was like when I was 22 and my grandfather was in a coma hooked up to a respirator in the ICU.

Having a mental health issue or diagnosis is [intractably] not seen as a selling point.

Not that any illness should be more acceptable than another. Every illness should be seen as an ordinary part of the life of a person living with a disability.

Folks: I don’t live in hiding. Google me and the truth is out there: in my memoir Left of the Dial, in my blogs, and on my website.

In the coming blog entry, I’m going to review the book Disability Visibility. Twenty-first century voices talking about living with a disability.

Diversity Equity and No Inclusion

In this and coming blog entries I’m going to talk about disability and barriers to employment.

First up in here I’ll talk about my experience having a disability and working at a job.

I say: Good Luck advocating for yourself and others once you’re hired. My story is a tale of Diversity Equity and No Inclusion.

In June I filled out the online application to join the DEI Council. On the form I identified as person living with a disability. My platform I advanced had this 3-part agenda:

Giving employees hardship pay for working during the pandemic.

Creating a one-month paid time off option for staff who had been employed for 15 years.

Starting an internship program for teens and young adults with disabilities.

Readers, I was rejected for admission to the DEI Council. Was it possible that because my goal of economic reparations would benefit every staff person that the members of the first DEI Council rejected me out of hand?

Sadly, the current DEI Council didn’t connect the dots that paid time off would benefit BIPOC staff who experienced microaggressions on the job.

I wondered if a person with a disability was chosen for the second DEI Council.

According to a RespectAbility internet article corporate leaders don’t think about disability when forming policies on diversity. Race, gender, and sexual orientation/identity are examined.

Per RespectAbility: “Disability needs to be a part of every conversation that the business community has about diversity and inclusion.”

Five months later I still can’t get over the fact that the current DEI Council failed to see as I did that economic reparations should be part of the solution.

It was like they rejected me because my platform didn’t focus only on BIPOC individuals.

In the next blog entry in this carnival I will talk about the reality of barriers to employment when you have a disability.

Getting in Indie Gear

The career guide in the photo above is the best quick read on how to create an independent income for yourself.

In my view it’s the best book in this category. I plan on buying a copy to read over and over.

In tandem with this practical business book I recommend one other book wherever I go and in whatever I write:

Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions.

Ben Arment the author of Dream Year reinforced what I’ve always realized: Those of us who choose a different path in life or a unique career can become riddled with self-doubt.

Strive to conquer the self-doubt which is a natural feeling to have when you’re an Artist/Creative or other maker or person in business for yourself.

Use the self-doubt as the catalyst for examining how to overcome this fear. In Dream Year you will be given the confidence to “Go confidently in the direction of your dreams / live the life you imagined” as the famous quote implores.

I’m getting ready to publish Working Assets the book in print and e-book format. My goal is to have the book go on sale in the early spring.

I checked Dream Year out of the library which you can try to do if you don’t want to buy it.

Dream Year is a sharp, succinct, and cohesive collection of action steps to take.

Crowdfunding

Crowdfunding is another way to drum up cash to start a business or fund a project.

The 3 main crowdfunding sources are GoFundMe, Kickstarter, and IndieGoGo.

Kickstarter is for creative projects. GoFundMe can be for human interest projects like supporting a family whose house has burned down in a fire. IndieGoGo is where you can find the latest in cutting-edge tech projects.

See GoFundMe here. See Kickstarter here. See IndieGoGo here.

For all of these funding platforms you must start strong on the first day your project goes live on the website for funding.

See each source’s terms and conditions. You might have to raise all of the money you seek or you won’t get any of the money given to you.

You can go on YouTube to watch videos about how to execute a successful crowdfunding campaign.

With Kickstarter you offer your funders something in return for their money. Like a copy of your book when it is published.

Other Side Hustle Approaches

Individuals with disabilities often do well starting their own business, according to the authors of The Next Millionaire Next Door.

For residents of Brooklyn in New York City the Brooklyn Public Library hosts a yearly PowerUp business plan competition.

Locals can create a business plan and pitch it to a panel of judges. The best business idea wins seed money so that the person can start up the business.

See the Brooklyn Public Library website for details.

See if your local library system has a Business and Career Center like the Brooklyn library does.

Often there you can get information about starting a business. The Business and Career Center will also host virtual workshops today and in-person workshops once the pandemic ends.

In the coming blog entry I will talk about crowdfunding to generate money for your business or other plan that requires capital.

Side Hustle Muscle

From January 2007 to September 2015–close to 9 years–I had a second job as the Health Guide at a mental health website. I wrote news articles about hot topics in recovery and answered questions in the Q&A forum. At that time I was in the vanguard writing about things no one else thought to write about. Just like I’m doing today.

I recommend getting a second job or having a side income stream. Rather than selling your soul to earn the big bucks at a job you hate or that doesn’t fit your personality.

Below this blog entry I’ll offer links to websites that can help you create a side hustle.

You can read the Kimberly Palmer book The Economy of You where she talks about going into business for yourself part-time in addition to a day job or full-time if you’re able.

See also the Chris Guillebeau book: Side Hustle: From Idea to Income in 27 Days.

Buy the Patrick G. Riley guide: The One-Page Business Proposal. I own this book and have used it myself. One page is all you need to pitch your service.

In coming blog entries I’ll talk about other ways to earn extra money.

Here I’ll end with one caveat for creative folk:

You often won’t get paid to write an article for a website. HealthCentral paid me when I was the Health Guide. I call the use of free mental labor an “intellectual sweatshop.”

Here’s a list of websites that can help you:

Writers Editors and other Creatives can search for work at MediaBistro.

Entrepreneurs of all stripes can find help at the Small Business Administraion.

SCORE or the Service Corps of Retired Executives I have used years ago with video chat help.

Shopify is a way to sell your product(s).

Guru is the place to find and hire freelancers. I found my local web designer here.

Getting a Performance Review

Getting a yearly performance review at your job can seem if not capricious at least stacked against you.

At one corporate insurance job in the 1990s I wasn’t given a pay raise. At all. Zero. Zip. Nada in compensation.

At the job in the law firm library I wasn’t given a promotion. That’s when I obtained my union job. Here the pay raises are set via negotiation for all employees in the union.

Going over my performance review printouts was a case study in how to earn what you’re worth.

It’s been my experience that if you have a union job it’s hard for you to be fired. Unless you have a city job and low seniority and the city is experiencing a financial hardship. Like the coronavirus pandemic that shut down New York City. Then there might be “LIFO” layoffs of the Last in First Out.

Reviewing the performance reviews of two different supervisors can be illuminating.

How is it that one person can give you only a “Satisfactory” overall rating and another person gave you a “+” rating which is better with a few “Superiors” checked off?

You need to have a stronger constitution to deflect not getting a positive performance review.

If you don’t work in a union your job might be on the chopping block in the future if you keep getting sub-par performance reviews.

See: Kennedy Rolland, Florence. The Persuasive Negotiator: Tools and Techniques for Effective Negotiating. New York: Taylor & Francis, 2020. and Dawson, Roger. Secrets of Power Salary Negotiating: Inside Secrets from a Master Negotiator 3rd edition. San Francisco: Red Wheel/Weiser, 2010.

Ideally, you will negotiate a higher salary when the company makes you the job offer. They wanted you and only you. So getting into the habit of negotiating up front is key.

Role-playing this kind of negotiating with a friend or therapist or practicing if possible with a professional could help you become comfortable asking for the money you’re worth.

In the coming blog entries I’m going to talk about creating a side hustle for yourself. I recommend having a second job or income stream to bolster the pay you get from a “day job.”

This is because any time you work for another person your career–and its trajectory and eventual success–is often in their hands.

Finding the Right-Fit Job or Career

It’s a myth that you can do what love and always be paid what you’re worth.

The solution is to have what’s commonly called a “side hustle”–a second job or income stream. In addition to your “day job.”

The fact is that when you work for a business or for anyone else you have no control over the trajectory of your work history.

How to gain control?

To be proactive in choosing a career that is the right fit with your personality.

In this blog I wrote about a year ago about taking a detour.

In my own life I spent 9 years in corporate and legal jobs. The first 7 years in insurance offices. The second 2 years in a law firm library.

Figuring out quick that though the new job was in the library field I wouldn’t get ahead playing by a supervisor’s rules. I was passed over for a promotion there. This turned out to be a good thing.

Today I’m a professional librarian in a public library. For close to 9 years I had a second job as the Health Guide at a mental health website.

The point is I didn’t recover until I found this job that was the right fit with my personality.

Wherever you work whenever you are subject to having a supervisor give you a performance review your career path is in someone else’s hand.

Thus my enduring urge to tell readers and audience members to have a second job or income stream in addition to our day jobs.

The yearly evaluation your supervisor gives you can seem capricious.

Though I favor acting true to yourself I remain skeptical about always disclosing your mental health issue to your boss and coworkers in the workplace.

This is because it can influence how your supervisor rates you and how much money you get in a raise.

Is this universally true? No it is not. Yet it is a distinct possibility.

Coming up in the next blog entry how to navigate what happens when you receive a performance review.

The better you like your job and what you do for 7 hours 5 days a week the easier it will be to take your yearly rating in stride.

My experience has been that different supervisors have different personalities. Their worldview and their own quirks in how they perceive other people factor into how they rate your performance.

I will use a “case study” approach from my own files to demonstrate why working at a job you love and having a side hustle could be the way to go.

Acting with Radiant Defiance

Today I value as I did when I was a disc jockey in the 1980s having the radiant defiance to be unusual.

I’ve read the book The Next Millionaire Next Door shown above. Those of us who are financially well-off have what’s called “social indifference.”

I’ve coined the term “radiant defiance.”

Individuals who have social indifference to the trappings of acting rich become millionaires.

“Keeping up with the Joneses” is the route to a miserable life of mounting debt.

The millionaires next door become well-off through hard work, discipline, conscientiousness, and integrity.

They don’t live in luxury homes in upscale neighborhoods. They don’t drive a Mercedes Benz.

These millionaires are frugal as a rule.

Why am I writing about this? It’s to get readers to value doing your own thing, not what others are doing.

Millionaires don’t follow the crowd. They don’t (and I don’t either) spend time on social media or watching TV. They don’t spend hours getting worked up over political issues.

In short, the millionaires next door act differently from how most people live.

The point is that I urge readers to reject having what constitutes success in America–the mindset of earning more and more money to be able to buy material goods that make you appear rich.

Real millionaires don’t succumb to “affluenza” the disease of consumerism.

Nor does where you start out in life determine how far you can go. It’s the habits you adopt along the way that determine whether you succeed or fail.

In the book shown above the authors corroborated that individuals who have disabilities often go into business for themselves and do quite well at this.

To wit: your SAT score and college GPA don’t correlate with whether you’ll be successful later in life. See under my Book Reviews category my review of Late Bloomers, which also denounced the early “conveyor belt” of SAT scores and elite colleges as being predictors of future achievement.

It’s commonly called social indifference. I call having the guts to act true to yourself radiant defiance.

Being normal isn’t what it’s cracked up to be. What makes you different gives you an advantage.

I’ll end here with one thing the millionaires next door share:

They chose a career that is the right fit with their personality. They saw a need in the market and capitalized on filling that need.

Coming up in the next blog entry I’ll talk about my own work history to give readers insight into how acting with radiant defiance can help you succeed in any goal..