Tag Archives: work

Choices and Liberation

My routine starts the night before. I choose an outfit and iron my clothes. I neatly hang my outfit in my closet. I shower and shave. This saves me time when I have to get to the client early. I have status reports to get out before lunch.

That morning the alarm buzzes. It takes me exactly 29 minutes each morning from alarm buzz until I leave the house. I know this because I’ve timed it. I arrive on site at the client at least one hour before anyone else shows up. This is when I’m most productive.

Status reports. Client meetings. Happy hours. Recruiting events. Networking. Between 6pm-8pm most nights I arrive home. I answer a few emails. I eat dinner. When I’m really busy I work until bed. Certain deviations in schedule were allowed for out-of-town travel or long commutes.

Three weeks ago I left consulting for a new job. The rules outlined in the three paragraphs above are no longer applicable. I’m still adjusting.

I guess the strangest thing about this new job isn’t having less work, but rather the permanence of my new situation. There were slow times when I worked in professional services too, but I knew that that was only temporary. It prevented me from taking on new hobbies or doing anything that required commitment. How can you commit to something for the next few months when the next project is staring you in the face? Always present in your mind like a burdensome task that you keep putting off, but know you have to complete.

This new allotment of time and consistency is peculiar to me. I have the time to dedicate to new (and some old) passions that have long evaded me. I find myself reading more often, I have time to write again, to goof off with friends, to get back into old fitness routines, and all without sacrificing time with my family.

I loved consulting. I loved the pressure to perform, the constant bombardment of knowledge, the travel, and the people I had the opportunity to work with. On the other hand – as I ease back into a slower-paced life I am surprised by the options I have available today that I didn’t a few weeks ago. In a sense it is liberation.

I am not advocating any particular career or life choice. What is right for each of us is unique.

I guess the point I’m trying to make is that we have to be mindful of how certain self imposed structures in our life can limit our choices. Maybe it’s our career, debt, or a relationship –  It could be anything. The trick is to pay close attention to the ways these self-made structures have the ability to make us their slaves – and to avoid it.

The strange thing about building a cage around yourself is that you are proud of it – even happy with what you have built – but no less trapped inside. That was consulting for me – I had build this structure around myself that ultimately trapped me inside.

We are drones. Good slaves. Obedient.

A co-worker, Angie, and I had dinner tonight. A meal and a drink.  She chose a fine glass of wine I had never heard of. I was immediately drawn to the dark beer they had on draft, locally brewed, of course.

Angie grew up in a well established suburb of north Atlanta – her neighbors included a few famous Braves baseball players from the mid-90’s you’ve probably heard of and she went to a top private school. Her father is the proud owner of a PHD in religion from Yale. He even did a short stint on a conservative late night radio show some years back.

Angie spent a few months in Europe and was a member of a popular sorority. She and her father are both recent converts to Catholicism. Her mother refuses to call herself anything but Southern Baptist.

To be honest most guys would probably enjoy the company of Angie, but to me she is almost as uninteresting a person I can imagine.

She’s traveled around Europe, but had almost nothing to say about really being there. She spoke fondly of Catholicism, but wrinkled her forehead in disapproval at the mention of Islam.  Privilege and opportunity without an ounce of character or depth.

Angie is an A+ student. Money, fashion, cars, diplomas, education, job titles, religion, and an SUV all mixed together in a carefully blended milkshake of American-made mental incarceration. Life is blurred by lens of perspective that can almost certainly never be undone.  It’s a phenomena I can barely explain.

Angie is a person, but not one.  She’s there, but I can’t have a conversation with her. It doesn’t work – there’s a part missing. The spark that makes us human – the part that allows us to have the basic interaction that proves to one human to another that you are alive – that you are thinking – is missing.

That thing that used to make us human – thought, love, discussion, disagreement, depth. That connection you can only sense from instinct that draws you to an individual, and says, we’re on the same team, we get each other, we’re both human!  It has been replaced with smart screens and anti-social networks. We are drones. Good slaves. Obedient.

I finished my dark beer. A milky head, slightly sweet.

Why Women Earn Less than Men

Do men really earn more than women? Is that because of discrimination? I don’t think so – at least not in the way we think.

For example, my wife is an art teacher and recently accepted a part time job because we are having our first child. In contrast, I was just promoted and have a full time business consultant job. I don’t think this is marketplace discrimination, but rather expectations of gender roles we have accepted.

So is their discrimination in the workplace? I don’t think so. Perhaps it is the gender roles some people are unhappy about.

The Courage to Live

This is an email I wrote to my best friend today.  After sending it I realized it might be worth sharing with the world.  

Dearest Holden,

Here I am.  Sitting in this little grey cubical at a client I could live with or without.  I’ve sent a few planning emails to clients for my upcoming weeks of travel.  I am executing yet another items request list for yet another client that I have in a few weeks.  So the process goes.

I imagine about right now you are being orientated (at his new job) in some way.  You probably feel a mix of feelings.  A feeling of “I made it” mixed with some excitement and maybe even a little nervousness.  You probably feel some need to rush on to your first project thinking “I just want to get started”.  Oh, and your ambition – your unlimited ambition to be promoted to the next level all to increase that paycheck and put a little more cushion and security between your family and the evils of poverty.

I’ll tell you what I’m thinking.  I am contemplating dreams.  Dreams of giving tourist sailing lessons and fruity drinks on some majestic Island or lake in the mountains.  Dreams of travel, adventure, and excitement.  Dreams of taking one-of-kind photos, writing stories about life, debating the economic and political future of the world.  Dreams where the monotony ends and the excitement doesn’t.  A life so full, so exhausting, and so lived that when I die I will be ready – without regret.

Ask yourself this Holden.  Is this the best your life can be lived?  For myself, sometimes I wonder.  When I die will I look back and say – I should have don it differently.  Or will I look back and say “Damn, that was awesome.”  I hope the latter is what’s in store for my future dying self – I only hope I have the courage to live that way.  Courage.  Courage to get out there and bust society in the mouth.  

Otherwise we’re beat.  We’re beat with the big stick of status quo.  I grin at my 22 days vacation.  I think that’s awesome.  Then I realize the other 250 work days a year I’m stuck wasting most of my time forgetting what it’s like to live a truly amazing life.

We are stuck behind the idea that we are “supposed to do”, “supposed to have”, “supposed to…”, and we so quickly forget what we need.  What we need to live amazingly.  Maybe all that we do is a means to the end – I just hope we realize it when that end comes.  I hope we make the leap.

So here’s to always remembering to be awesome.  Let’s get to it.

What happens when you work with a fucking idiot?

So we hired a women that I am fairly sure is retarded.  The problem is she’s old, changing careers, and used to a different pace.  I commend her for trying, but my frustration builds with every less than appropriate action she takes.  She moves slow, asks bad questions, is horrible at reading the client, and doesn’t listen when I give clear advice.  Honestly, its not working out.  So just for fun, during lunch, I created a comic.  Enjoy.

Continue reading What happens when you work with a fucking idiot?

Forget Vegas – What Happens in Chicago STAYS in Chicago

“Legendary-ish Stories” is a series I plan to write occasionally in which I describe actual incidents that happened in my life. These incidents often involve alcohol and at times immorality – neither of which I necessarily condone. With these stories I hope to add a touch of humor and display human imperfection while simultaneously eroding my credibility. Enjoy.

What I did was despicable, terrible, accidental, unplanned, unforgivable, and also memorable. What I did is something no one should ever do and no I do not commend my actions. If anything I discourage them, but as this blog is about being human, about the truth, I will shamefully tell it anyway – however hesitantly I proceed.

Let me start out by saying being a young man in a bar with your closest work friends (who have become personal friends) with an unlimited bar tab and tables that have taps of limitless beer and liquor – is a recipe for disaster and mistakes to be made. Even by a man like me who prides himself on having integrity. A word I can barely write at the moment.

The night started out innocently and unplanned enough. Of course we planned on drinking as much as possible on the company dime – who wouldn’t. However, when the bar closed at 1am and we had ingested an untold number of beers and two older women were hitting on me continuously – what was I to do? Resist?

I’m a young guy in my mid-20s. I am married, so I’m not proud of what happened. My conversation with the women started of completely innocent. I talked about my time in the city, asked for suggestions, and even talked about my wife and their husbands. It was a blur, I will admit, but to my knowledge I was completely forth-coming and polite – yet it seems that older women with husbands really, really like younger men with wives.

Upon blackout a friend of mine (also attached) and I teleport to their hotel room. I don’t remember leaving the bar, making the decision to follow them, nor arriving to the hotel.

Let me stop right here though and say that I was strong. Stronger than most in this position. I resisted their constant propositions. However, that did not stop them from undressing and that did not stop me from looking. I’m not proud. I shouldn’t have put myself in such a situation and how I resisted the desire to take full advantage I may never know.  Still, I deserve a kick to the testicles if nothing else.

Now this is where the story gets funny because if you know me than you would completely understand that this is something I would do. In the middle of all of this “excitement” somehow we get on the subject of politics. (Me being from the South they joked that I hated Obama) That’s when, in my drunken stupor, my mind went from thinking about sex like a 14 year old – to politics. I started in on all of my beliefs and proofs – many of which you have read in this blog. I think the fact that I subconsciously care more about economics and politics than a naked women is clearly more shameful than being in the room with two naked women while I’m married.

In the end I convinced two very liberal women that Ron Paul is an excellent choice for president and that many of my “pseudo-socialist-libertarian-naturalist” viewpoints are incredibly valid. This made me feel AWESOME since both of these women were clearly well educated executive types. They could have very well been my boss. To make matters worse I went on a rant about integrity (while ironically showing no integrity at all).

That’s about the point I felt completely disgusted with myself and realized I was about to force myself to leave and take a very expensive cab ride back to the hotel, alone. So I excused myself and took the walk of shame down to the hotel lobby and shook my head when I noticed the sun was coming up.

I hailed a cab, cringed at how much it cost, drank a lot of water and coffee, took a shower to rinse the disgust off of my body, and went back to work. Now I’m just trying to forget these memories of blatant idiocracy on my part. The shit I feel right now in the form of a massive hang-over, the credibility I may lose from all my “many” readers, and any negative consequences that come from what happened – I deserve.

I’ll leave you with a the most memorable quote from the night (please excuse the language): “You are an impressive young guy. I would hire you and I would fuck you, but not necessarily in that order.” How do you forget something like that?

The Problem with the Buffet Rule

I follow Barrack Obama on twitter. Recently every tweet has been about the “#BuffetRule”. Reason after reason why the rich should pay as much or more as a percent of their income in taxes as the middle class and poor. On the surface I get it – but are we asking the wrong questions?

I mean I saw this push a mile away. When Buffet first published “his” article (or at least an article he endorsed that his secretary probably wrote for him) I knew a push for higher taxes was coming. All in the name of “the rich paying their fair share”. But why are we asking ANYONE to pay more taxes. The rich paying more taxes doesn’t mean the rest of us win, just that we all lose.

Instead of asking the rich to pay more taxes to catch up with the rest of us, why not lower taxes for everyone else? I know an increased tax on the rich will not benefit me. They’ll probably use it to buy more body scanners that I’ll have to opt out of in the airport. Or maybe they’ll find another country to invade in Africa.

If Obama wants this so bad why doesn’t he promise 100% of it to education or food for the poor? No one knows for sure where the extra cash is going. I mean, why are we trusting the Government with MORE or OUR money? Oh, all for Universal Healthcare and to “level the playing field.” Right? I doubt it.

Currently the US pays as much or more in taxes as any country on the planet. Notice how many of those countries have Universal Healthcare. In fact I just returned from Japan who pays about the same tax rate as us, but has Universal Healthcare. How can they do it, but we can’t? Maybe it’s because WE are the Japanese military!

So why are we agreeing to MORE taxes again?

Any good business man (even bad ones) will tell you that the easiest way to add to your bottom line is to cut expenses NOT add revenue (via taxation for the government). So why aren’t we focused on balancing the budget and maybe, just maybe, cutting back on the military. Why are we concerned about getting involved in Africa and staying involved in the Middle-east. I thought this was the “peaceful” democratic party!

If it doesn’t bother you that our Government can find excuse after excuse to increase taxes instead of lowering them for the rest of us – then we have lost. We will continue war-mongering. We will continue deficit spending. We will continue giving more and more power to those who already have it.

If you really think that raising taxes on the “rich” will in any way benefit you, you’re crazy. If you think this isn’t benefiting the most powerful “1%” – then you’re wrong.

Some Personal Nonsense

For the past couple of months I have been on the road 6 days a week. I leave on Sunday nights and get home Friday evenings. I don’t mind the travel necessarily, but I can’t say that I would like to spend my entire career on the road either.

For one, it feels like you are at work 24/7. You are constantly “on call”. It might be networking with co-workers, answering a phone call or email, or just sitting in a hotel room that’s not home. All of those factors make it just a little less comforatable than they typical work day.

There are advantages to being on the road. My expenses virtually disappear, I eat a lot of good meals, and rack up on the hotel and frequent flyer points – all leading to a free vacation!

The worst part is not about me though. My wife sits at home missing me. Call me a softy, but I hate the idea of her sitting at home alone because of a career decision I made. Espescially days like Valentine’s Day – a holiday I wouldn’t even typically think much about – makes me wish that I was at least at home to hang out. I guess it’s just another reminder that I’m on the road.

For now I’m going to try to maintain some symbolance of structure. Work, Gym, Dinner, Lounge, Read, Sleep, and Repeat.

I have another six weeks before I role off this project and get to spend the night in my own bed. For now I’ll continue to deal with the 50 hour work week, emails from the partner at 2am, and newby’s getting a little too comforatable with the idea of binge drinking on work nights when they have to be back in the office at 8am. Yep, living the dream. :)

Update: Literally as I write this one of those binge drinking Newby’s I was talking about earlier came up to me showing me a reciept for $150 from a nearby bar last night. He also bragged to me that our waitress from last night’s dinner is “still in his hotel room.” See folks – its stuff like this I’m forced to deal with and ignore. FML.

Success is about being a great BULLSHITTER

If there is one thing I’ve learned (and mastered) during my last few years of professional experience it’s that being a master bullshitter can take you a long way in the workplace.  Don’t get me wrong, being a great bullshitter doesn’t mean you have to be a liar or lack integrity, it just means sometimes you have to know what to say, how to say it, and when to say it.  Even if that means making a round piece fit in a square space.

For example, today a senior on my project was questioned by a partner regarding the status. He was in the process of gathering data and didn’t have a good answer, but of course the boss wanted answers when she asked for it.  My poor co-worker was left in a position where he could flourish or flounder, he chose the latter.  He admitted he hadn’t gathered the data on time and took a scolding.  In reality he knew from experience and managing the project that it was 80% complete, he didn’t know that exactly 82.23/100 project steps had been completed, but he had a good understanding of the situation; however, his pathetic answer made it sound like he was off track and incapable of managing the project.  Had he bullshitted, just slightly, and provided her with what he DID KNOW it would have saved him a lot of grief.

I’ve had other situations come up in the consulting environment that were the same way.  A client would ask me a very specific hypothetical question and instead of looking at him/her like an idiot I told the client what I DID KNOW.  Maybe I’m not sure how the latest programming language can solve X problem, but I do know a few of the best practices for IT security and programming – maybe even a few resources they could check out for the information.  So instead of looking like a dumbass, I came through with a value add.  Sometimes that’s how you earn your paycheck.

That’s just life though.  Knowing when to “fake it until you make it” and when to back off and admit you don’t know.  If you don’t know the difference and when to use each – then you’ll likely fail or spend your life in a dark grey cubical working for a bunch of bullshitters.  That’s a free piece of advice from yours truly.

Working for the Devil

The last two days have consisted of commuting for 8 hours and working an 11 hour day. I have been at “training” (a.k.a indoctrination sessions) for a major client my company has just taken on. I am playing a team lead role for this juggernaut of a client and to be honest it’s going to be hell over the next three months.

For starters I am going to have to travel 8 hours each week to commute to the city in which my client is located. The client is also in an industry, which I hesitate to even mention from fear of getting dooced, that I believe is innately evil and greedy. I feel like I am going to be working for the devil for the next three months, but if I want to keep my family fed I should just shut up like a good little slave and continue to row the boat and serve my master accordingly.

The client is also everything a consultant hates. They have us on proverbial lock down like convicted kinder gardeners who has put glue in little Sara’s hair. We have been assigned corporate lap tops belonging to the client and corporate email accounts – which in itself is not unusual – however, we have been prohibited from using our cell phones on company grounds, using headphones, and we can’t take their laptops back to the hotel. This means the 11 or so hours of work I have to do has to be done on their time and in their facilities. That adds an uncomfortable wrinkle to the situation when you are used to taking a break or working from the hotel room.

All this bullshit to help an industry leader that I think is full of shit. On a positive note this assignment is what bullet points of accomplishment are made of on a resume. I’ll be helping manage a large group of slaves who will work tirelessly to serve the tyrant however we instruct them to. Also, the hotel is pretty nice. The expense policy is less than satisfactory, but when a client is paying your company 10 million + for three months work I guess you do what they tell you.

I guess I can’t complain too much as I am employed, but damn it this is some type of cruel and unusual punishment passed down by the Gods! The good news is that while I am forced to work for a company I dislike on moral principal I am in a unique position to ensure they are doing things right – and if they aren’t I plan to come down on them like a nuclear warhead showing no mercy on their pathetic souls!

So over the next couple of months I hope I’ll have a few interesting stories to share – a new city to explore – and maybe even a couple “legendary-stories” to add to the list from activities performed at company outings involving overworked slaves and free alcohol. Also, I’m reading a good book right now that has a few solid discussion points – more on that coming soon.