Tag Archives: work

I Passed on a $50,000 Raise

I am proud of myself this morning. Proud because I feel like I am slowly becoming the man I aspired to be. A man who, when given the opportunity, will choose happiness, family, friends, and knowledge before money or the accumulation of more stuff. I believe this about myself because I turned down a new job, and a $50,000 raise, for these values.

The job would have made me the youngest person in such a position (that I know of), padding my bank account and my resume, but would have meant a lot of time away from my family and friends, giving up a few personal dreams (such as starting my own business and pursuing further education), and doing something I’m not very passionate about. I’ve never had to give up such a huge opportunity or such a large sum of money. I’m happy that when the time came I had the courage and discipline to do so.

I didn’t do it alone, either. I had people to speak candidly with. Friends and family who earnestly supported me and walked through the pros and cons of each opportunity. They probably didn’t know it, but their willingness and enthusiasm helped to show me just what I would be giving up. Just how great a community I would be giving up for a little prestige and money.

I didn’t give up long walks with my family every evening, I didn’t give up the international travel and leadership opportunities my current job provides, I didn’t give up my dream of launching my own start-up, I didn’t give up morning coffee talks with Holden, I didn’t give up spontaneous cocktail dinners with neighbors, and I didn’t give up my dream of higher education (in fact I start an MBA program next school year!).

When I read that last paragraph I realize just how easy a decision the whole thing was – even if it didn’t seem like it at the time. Perspective.

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.

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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?