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Do our relationships get us tied up in knots?

by Kate Tykocki

A few months ago, it came out on Twitter that Dave Isbell and I have a #workcrush on each other.

I know, it’s pretty silly. But, he’s just such a nice guy and he truly believes in what he does… how can I NOT have a work crush on him?

Which got me to thinking… with work crushes and happy hours and status updates, where do we draw the lines between colleagues and friends anymore? In this 24/7 world of social media, can we really separate work friends from friend friends? And more, should we?

When I first launched into my professional career after graduating in green and white, I was adamant I would maintain separation of work and play, dangit! I would not be one of those people who was a slave to my job and had no social life.

Fast forward a decade and a lot of life changes later, and I now find myself with a very blurry line between work and fun. A huge part of my job has become building relationships with others, most of whom I genuinely like. I am in a knitting group with the editor of a local publication. I play kickball with small business owners, executive directors, co-workers and their significant others. I’ve helped countless friends land jobs that result in us interacting professionally, and my bestie — who I lived with in Abbott Hall my freshman year at State — now works just down the hall from me. I frequently find myself laughing and having a drink with colleagues, and talking work and career advice with friends.

Somehow that separation is no more and I find my work friends and my friend friends all in one melting pot of the Lansing social scene.

And I love it.

Between Facebook and Twitter and YouTube and texting and email and all the other ways in which we communicate, it’s just too hard to keep up a fake brand; to pretend you’re one person at the office and another after 5 p.m. Today’s society thrives on authenticity, and the fact that my worlds have collided means that whether you’re a work friend or a friend friend you know what I’m all about. You know that I make up words frequently and have a pretty ridonculous “voice.” You know that I love jazz hands, Harry Potter and being involved in my community, which may or may not include knitting graffiti. You know that I adore my significant other Andrew and that we are puppy parents to a fantastic little pit bull named Herbie… you might even know he had puppy pink eye a little while back. And you also know I work really hard to try to make #lovelansing a better place. I’m a huge advocate for alumni “coming home” to Greater Lansing and helping them connect with jobs and the unique lifestyle here.

You might even know that later this summer I’ll be starting a new adventure. After eight years of working – and playing – with the fantastic team in and around Capital Area Michigan Works!, I’ll be joining the rock star team at CiesaDesign as Vice President of Communications.

Even this great step for me is a result of the blurring of work and play. For years now, I have gotten to know the team at Ciesa through projects, volunteer work and community advocacy. When we’re working on behalf of a cause we truly believe in, for me it’s the performing arts, are we really working at all? And so the relationships were built that helped lead me to this new opportunity.

And as I start another chapter of my career, I’ll also join another blended social circle – those I’ve affectionately dubbed the Old Town mafia. Old Town is a family, plain and simple. For years now, I’ve had the privilege of being an honorary member of said family. I get fond greetings when I have lunch on Pablo’s patio. I get warm welcomes of “how did that fit?” and “what did you think of that scent?” at Grace and October Moon. I even get involved in grassroots efforts of the Old Town variety. And now, I get to be legit. Every day I’ll set off to my own office on the river and get to take my Old Town pride to a new level.

Antoine de Saint-Exupéry once said, “man is a knot into which relationships are tied.”

I once thought it would be possible to keep my relationships at the office and those at home in two separate places in my world. I’m so happy I was wrong, for the liberation I feel in getting to be myself no matter where I am, and knowing that my personal brand is nothing more or less than crazy, quirky, intense me… well, that’s work and play all tied into one fantastic knot.

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If you ask Dave Isbell, he will tell you that Kate Tykocki is one of the most fabulous people in the entire world. When Dave found out that his daughter’s daycare was run by Kate’s mom (who he affectionately calls “grandma Bette”) he got to find out that she has always been fabulous, and as adorable as a box of kittens that has just been placed under a rainbow by a unicorn! She is an alumna of Michigan State University, has spent the better part of a decade as the Marketing Guru for Capital Area Michigan Works, teaches at Lansing Community College, and will soon start being paid to tell the world how awesome Ciesa Design is. Oh yeah, she is also a talented actress, and if you ever need a hand-knitted sweater she would be the one to call for it. She is fun to follow on Twitter: @camwkate  (soon to be @ciesakate).

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2 comments

  1. Emily White 12 July, 2011 at 13:04 Reply

    I completely agree with you! Authentic branding is very important for our generation and for the work place as a whole. Great unique blog entry! Love it.

    • spartanshelpingspartans 12 July, 2011 at 13:36 Reply

      Yet, being authentic is so hard for so many people. The workplace tends to build up barriers for far too many people. I am deeply glad that I get to work in a place that allows me to be me, and hired me in the first place because of who I am! —Dave

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