The Courses of Life.

“In times of great change, it is the learners who will inherit the earth, while the learned increasingly inherit a world that no longer exists.”

— Eric Hoffer

Written in the style of Marcus Aurelius – Meditations: Book One, 167 AD

From my two years as a Paperboy I learned responsibility, timing, consistency, and that some jobs don’t come with a day off.

From my entry into the workforce at 16 years old as a dishwasher I learned if you have time to lean you have time to clean. You either find something to do or someone else will find it for you. I learned that if you are responsible, punctual, and trainable, that you can get yourself out of the dish pit and out wearing a tie in front of customers. As a busboy I learned quickness and quality can go hand in hand. I began to learn who I would be morally. I’d stay late and often talk with the adults around me. I’d hang out in the bar, even though I couldn’t drink. From this I learned I never wanted my life to be stories of what once was or what someday could have been. I would forge myself into who I wanted to be. I would stay the course, work the cook line, call the orders, and pick up weekend shifts until the restaurant sold two years later.

From my quick entry into the corporate world of Chili’s I learned that some training videos can be really hookey. I learned that some people might not tell you much they appreciate you until the end. “Why do the good ones always quit?”

From entry into tech support at Nauticom I learned how learn. I learned that RTFM is not something you can type into the command line. I made that mistake once! That people will help you if you thank and appreciate them. I learned the pace of technology as we transitioned from supporting 95% dial-up customers to DSL overtaking that business vertical three years later. I learned what good management is capable of. The staff at Nauticom was so wonderful and what we accomplished together still continues today. When I was laid-off, the President of the company came by to relieve me of my position. I promised to continue working just as hard throughout the consolidation as I had every day prior. As I ended up years later sitting on a plane next to my old boss I was reminded, never burn your bridges, you never know when you’ll cross them a second time.

My move to Portland with no job and everything I owned in my car gave me time to pause. I enjoyed the outdoors as I continued to climb and mountain bike. Focus, intentionality, and suffering are things climbing has taught me. On my mountain bike I learned it’s sometimes it’s safest to go fastest and that commitment can still come with crashes. Suffering is a part of life but not the most important part.

From entry into Netflix, I learned freedom and responsibility. Calls would come in endlessly but you had freedom to relax while on them. Technology work does not have to be stressful. I got to know customers pretty well by asking them what movies they love and listening to them with sincerity. I learned to treat everyone with respect. You can’t know what someones situation is until you walk a mile in their soiled underpants. People needed these movies. I learned to stay humble and was relieved of my position due to outsourcing.

From Cayuse, Inc. I learned how to pace myself to be effective every day. My entry into real software troubleshooting began and I spent lots of time learning to read co-workers code. I attended to a large demographic of educated, career savvy women. I learned to follow their lead at times and filled over 350 software tickets to make their jobs easier. I worked hard to then go into the field and meet them in person. I became the onsite software trainer and learned to be creative and active instead of habitual and passive. I developed my own training material which still persists today. I learned to be fluid, be calm, and most importantly – be prepared. I had to master the material so I would not appear foolish. There are those in life who will make one look foolish when given the opportunity. I learned to at times when it’s also OK to be the fool; ego is a trainers worst enemy.

As I progressed within Cayuse, Inc. I learned to not spend time trifling and meddling affairs. I aimed to keep busy and active learning new things. I built my own server from spare parts and deployed a local version of our SaaS product. So now I understood the front side of the business and the back-end technical. I aimed to never become a prisoner of my talents. Rote tasks, habitual processes, predictable day-to-day existence; no thanks! It is as Hoffer wrote: “the learners who will inherit the earth”. So with my small bindle of ideas and experiences, I sojourn on.

Cayuse, Inc soldand I joined my current company Evisions, Inc. in 2013. As it is in times of great change, the hierarchy doesn’t really mean anything and so I moved into Process, Data and Business Analysis. I began passionately working on making the unknowns known. Like a detective bringing many pieces of disparate information and clues together into one big picture. I had to learn how to build data visualizations and present effectively to the C-Suite. I learned the power of the single page hand-out.

Yet in my experience there are failures. There are products with unsuccessful launches, projects without a strong coalition, trappings of politics and budgetary cuts. Internally, I wonder what shall be written on my tombstone. Certainly it won’t be anything related to my professional career or a list of my certificates or a smattering of company logos. No… It will probably say loving husband, great friend, good man…..yeah…that would do me just fine.

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