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INTRO My Body Is Ready

When you started down this path, how "on board" was your significant other?

  • All-In

    Votes: 1 25.0%
  • Cautiously Optimistic

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Happy for you, but not interested.

    Votes: 1 25.0%
  • Anxious about the departure from the script

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Outright hostile toward the idea

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Completely Indifferent

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • I was on my own with no S.O.

    Votes: 2 50.0%

  • Total voters
    4

Office Assassin

New Contributor
Nov 29, 2018
1
1
13
Baltimore, MD
Howdy Everyone!

Some of this is already in my profile, but here is the long winded version of my tale...

I recently left my job, of twelve years, from a company I helped build. I started my career with a lot of autonomy, but over the years and after a few private equity acquisitions my life was hitting a rut.

I have never been the scripted type (ask my parents) but I am a pragmatist. Growing up financially poor but emotionally rich I learned early on about the value of close personal relationships and the stress not having money puts on those relationships.

I vowed to rid myself of financial stress and to never let it back into my life nor the life of anyone I care about. Being a pragmatist, and knowing I had zero financial safety net at the age of 18, I reluctantly attended an Ivy League School to get an engineering degree, even though I did not want to go to college. Fortunately, because my family did not have anything to pay my tuition, I was granted an almost 100% need based scholarship. I did all right in my undergraduate degree (not great) and I ended up taking on some debt to get a masters degree in engineering (and did much better with my "second" chance). And I am incredibly happy I made this decision because I met my amazing wife at university and the degrees opened doors for me when I was starting out as people were willing to give me the benefit of the doubt sight unseen due to the name of the school on my diplomas.

I started down the management consultant path but was let go less than a year in, when then small firm I worked for decided to shift to the medical industry away from engineering.

When I left work that day I was let go, I went to my rec league soccer game and informed my teammates that I could not afford to live in the area without my job and that day would be my last game with them. A teammate who I had just met months earlier offered me a part-time gig at his 3-year old company if it would help me stay in the area while I looked for my next career; I took him up on it, and that company became my bread and butter for the next twelve years.

I started as one of less than twenty employees and as a part-time business analyst. I quickly asserted myself as a valuable asset. Within 4 months I was a full-time employee and by then end of my second year I was managing all of the company's technology, from software design and development to office infrastructure.

It was around this time that I would say I was really living an unscripted life (though I didn't have a name for it) even though I technically had a 9 to 5 job. As the only real technical resource for the company I often had to be working in the middle of the night or on weekends as to not affect our customers, who used our website predominantly during business hours, and I did not mind that as I am a night owl. I made my own schedule, I decided when new updates would roll-out and came and went as I pleased from the office, assuming there were not clients to meet with nor discussions to have about the direction of the company. Only once did the CEO (my soccer buddy) confront me about the fact that some of the other employees were frustrated that I seemed to get special treatment, especially because he was a fairly strict "stick to the script" kind of owner with everyone else; I told him I would be glad to call/email everyone in the company the next time I logged in at 2 AM to roll-out some new code or server update and that if he genuinely had an issue with my performance (and not just the hours I kept) that I would certainly get on board with whatever the team needed from me, but the issue never came up again between us. Ultimately, he appreciated the value I helped create for the company which led him grant me an equity stake in the company without me even asking (A classy move that I hope to be able to do for some other naive soul someday).

During those first few years we were essentially a startup company solving new problems presented by our customers or government regulators on a weekly basis. We made the Inc. 500 in the mid-2000's and sold to a private equity firm in 2009. The CEO rode off into the sunset with millions and I earned a nice payday that my wife and I stashed away and it has provided a comfortable back drop to our life, but it will not sustain an UNSCRIPTED life.

So after the sale of the company, I hung on and was promoted to the Director of Technology for the larger company that had acquired us, and life was still good for awhile until I realized the heartlessness (and in my opinion short-sightedness) of the rest of the executive management team. I remember sitting in a board meeting where the decision was made to let people go and cut back on holiday parties because we had only hit 63% margins for the year instead of the 65% that had been projected by the CEO and CFO.

Not being the shy type, I requested I private meeting with the CEO afterwards where I let him know that the way the management team acted caused me a lot of personal stress, and within a month I was replaced/demoted.

Looking back, that was my first "F*ck This Event", but I actually didn't mind at the time, because for a couple of years I had less responsibility while getting paid the same amount, but over time as the company grew and we were bought/sold again, I realized I was no longer writing my own story, I was a character in someone else's story. And to make it even worse, I had seen behind the curtain which made each soul-crushing decision handed down from on high (E.g. no more company picnics, office closures, working weekends with no added benefits, etc...) all the more difficult to stomach because I knew these decisions were not because the employees had performed poorly, but because the executive management team had oversold the company to try to get a higher valuation, which in turn led the private equity guys to set their sites on the 100-foot yachts, but now they may have to settle for a 65-foot one instead.

These sorts of things led to my second FTE, and came 1-year ago when after working 11 straight 10-12 hours days, I put up my out of office message for that Friday because I needed a mental health day (I was a manager, at least I didn't need to ask permission) However, I was contacted by my boss almost immediately telling me it was unfair to everyone else for me to take-off, we exchanged some harsh words and I begrudgingly logged back into work on Friday only to find that 75% of the other managers took off due to the stress we had all just been through.

Again, being a pragmatist, I somehow convinced myself not to quit right then and there and hung on for another 9 months, but when they closed our office in June of this year and told us to work from home, I started drafting my resignation immediately and submitted it by the end of July, and left the company for good at the end of August.

After being gifted and now reading UNSCRIPTED, I can happily say that I am presently leading an UNSCRIPTED life; my wife and I have been able to save for our a sons' launch funds (we don't call it a college fund because we are firm believers that college is not for everyone and we would be fine if either of our sons decides to do something else with their fund, provided it is something worth while.) and we were able to buy my parents an inexpensive condo in FL when their home was foreclosed on two years ago. Sadly, my mom passed away this past spring and I now need time to help manage my disabled sister's living situation (i.e. negotiate rent prices, check in and make sure she is doing all right, talk to doctor's on her behalf etc...), which is now another driver for me to make sure I can continue living an UNSCRIPTED life because dealing with social security takes way more time than it should. I am looking forward to eventually telling Social Security to stuff it and that I will pay for my sister's healthcare and living expenses myself.

Given the responsibilities I have, I know that I can not rest on my laurels (my stake in the company I left was just enough to wet my appetite, but not nearly enough to set me up for life). I am fortunate to finally be in a place where my pragmatist needs are satisfied, and I am ready to make some real personal changes in order to continue to improve my life and those around me. I am aware that I still have some shortcomings that I need to address and overcome, but so far I have been slowly whittling away at those character flaws that weren't immediately obvious when someone else was cracking the whip. What my family has now will only last us a couple of years if I were to piss my time away. Fortunately for me, that is not my style, I have spent the last 3-month getting myself back in shape (I have lost 8 lbs in just under 2 months and only need to lose 10 more to be back at my playing weight from college) and updating my skills for "free" (thank you Public Library for your subscription to Lynda.com, at least not all those tax dollars were a complete waste) while also kicking around a bunch of business ideas with friends and family, but I admit I have not really put my mind nor effort toward any of them yet, I have been enjoying life and time with my family too much!

But as the glow of my departure wears off, and the Thanksgiving family binge is now over, I am longing to get back to solving interesting problems that provide both real value to society as well as personal satisfaction; however, going it alone is difficult for a somewhat extroverted person like myself. That is where you all come in! I look forward to being a part of this community and hopefully contributing value here while working to build some value that someone will eventually pay me for.

Incidentally, one thing I have noticed is that while we are financially stable, and will be for the foreseeable future, my wife is very anxious about my direction, which has surprised me given that she knows my track record. I am slowly winning her over, but I am curious what others experienced when they started out, and what helped convince your S.O. that this can work? I have attached a poll to this thread, because I would love to start getting some feedback.

For what it is worth, she has an amazing job where she mostly makes her own schedule, never has to work nights or weekends, and probably puts in about 30 hours (+/-) in an average week and still clears a six-figure salary, not to mention her boss and co-workers think she hung the moon. She has no problem with sticking to her script, she loves it and I am happy for her!

Cheers!
Greg
 

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