“I am Ironman…” Naa, but at times it kind of feels that way.
Many of you know this but for those that don’t – I do actually have a full-time job. I am an Associate Director at Ernst & Young (EY) working in organizational change management. At night and on weekends, I am an author. In many respects, it’s a slightly schizophrenic lifestyle. The Blaine Pardoe that works 45+ hours a week at one of the Big Four professional services firms is different from the Blaine Pardoe that is the New York Times Bestselling Author.
I’ve had people Google me and compare photos. Seriously. Trust me – I’m me.
The Blaine Pardoe that is the author does do his part fighting crime – writing about true crime cold cases. That Blaine gets to go to sci-fi conventions and sign books and play games. He has been a speaker at venues such as the US National Archives and even a few times at the US Naval Academy. He has been mentioned on the floor of the US Congress for his military history books. The author Blaine Pardoe does TV and radio interviews on his works. Hollywood is looking into one of his books for a possible movie deal. That Blaine Pardoe has reinvented himself many times in his writing career, exploring new genres. The writer known as Blaine Pardoe is actually pretty cool. His wife likes to compare him with Castle – profession-wise anyway (I apparently lack Nathan Fillion’s good looks.)
My day job allows me to have my secret identity. Being a successful writer doesn’t necessarily come with bags of cash. I’m still trying to crack that proverbial nut. At my day job, I have a flexible work arrangement so I do work at home most of the time. EY provides me the kind of work-life balance that allows me to huddle in my Fortress of Solitude/Batcave and go out at night and fight crime. I respect that from my employer. That respect is paid with hard work and long hours (when necessary).
A few years ago I met an internal auditor who had the task of purchasing my books and reading them to make sure I didn’t misrepresent the firm. That was two steps past awkward. A part of me was mad, but then I realized that EY was buying my books – so the mercenary in my soul kicked in and the anger washed away. Still, the thought of Big Brother watching me was creepy. It was also pretty funny. That was years ago though…I’m sure they aren’t still monitoring me…right?
In my writing-alter ego, no one ever really asks about my day job. However in my day job, from time-to-time, people find out that I am also a writer and it comes up in conversation. For example: This week I was in a meeting in McLean and one of the first introductory questions that came up was, “What do you do outside of work?” Nice icebreaker, but there’s no good way to dodge that kind of question. As such, I always handle it awkwardly. It’s like Bruce Wayne talking about Batman…you have to choose your wording really carefully. I don’t deny that I’m the author, but it is sometimes a little strange discussing it with people out of context. At work the typical topics are not very exciting…not true at all when you are researching and writing a book.
I’m also quite sure that being a successful author has hurt my career. One senior leader told me once, “I just don’t see how you can be dedicating yourself 100% of the time to your job when you are off doing this stuff on the side.” Ouch. The implication was clear, I was somehow cheating my employer – that was his explanation for why I was a successful writer in the “real world.” The fact that I have two careers wasn’t an accomplishment to him, it was a ding on my work ethic at the only job he chose to acknowledge. Sadly, over the years, he’s not the only person to cast dispersion’s about how I manage my time. They seem to ignore how I consume my vacation time to do book tours or conduct interviews. I am sure (though unproven) that behind closed doors, this aspect of my life has held me up from promotions or other opportunities.
You would think they’d make me a poster-child for flexible work arrangements. Instead I’m a suspect in crimes that are unspoken or unknown. I accept that my having a life outside of work is a CLM (Career Limiting Move). I don’t like it – but it is a small price to pay.
Whispers of “He must be hiding something…” nag me at times. But the answer is simple.
I am hiding something. My not-so-secret identity douchebags.