Saturday, May 16, 2009

YYZ Mega-Lengthy Post

Hello from YYZ, the TLA* representing Toronto's Pearson International Airport. If you've been with us for awhile, you know nothing brings out the long, wordy posts in me like a few hours in an airport. To celebrate, let's hear Rush's song by that time. I am told that this instrumental is a series of variations on the Morse Code representation of YYZ, that beeps endlessly on those radio frequencies pilots use. Does anyone even speak Morse code anymore?

YYZ - Rush

* - Three Letter Acronym. Stay with us now, we covered this months ago.

After 50 hours of training, and more fancy dinners in four days than I have had in, mercy, a year, I finally have a moment to let my brain do nothing. I will now forgo that opportunity, and catch you up a little on details of how I came to be here.

As you recall, I got word that IBM figured they could do without me on January 24, one day after the Inauguration. I spent most of that first month of February lining up five really strong opportunities, all of which eventually, surprisingly, and disappointingly fell through. Of the approximately 400 jobs I have since applied for, 40 or so were with IBM. Of those 40, I secured interviews for exactly none of them. I worked with about 10 recruiters, some of whom submitted me for positions for which I was completely unsuited. Counting recruiter conversations, I did between 50 and 60 interviews, mostly over the phone. I'll advise my accountant that, in my job search, I drove approximately 1350 miles for interviews, and spend $68 on train tickets downtown. During those months, there were 4 positions that I was sure would turn into offers, and each of those disintegrated in the 11th hour for various reasons. Most of which were out of my control.

[begin tangential rant on meaning of life questions...]

A word on "control"... I've been giving a lot of thought these months to "meaning" or "purpose"... by that, I mean that thing that gets you out of bed in the morning. What's the meaning of your life? Jesus says the meaning of life is to love God and serve others. Nietzche claimed life has no meaning at all, a belief that led him to some startling conclusions. Literally, if meaning is "what gets you out of bed in the morning?" I would have to say these last few months, my children have been my meaning... they have come in earlier than they should, and drug me (and Sue) out of bed well before we needed to be. Of course, over time, the final meaning of my life will be partially defined by what my children become. But not completely. There is a danger there... while I'd like to think I have some impact on the final outcome of my children's development, I have to admit that my four independently-minded children are also their own creatures. There are aspects of their development that are out of my control, and who they become (if Sue and I do our jobs correctly) will be largely determined by them, provided we give them the guidance, resources, and opportunities they need to discover and maximize who they were meant to be. My purpose, then, is to provide them the tools they need. But in the end, the final outcome will be up to them.

* - YMMV, but that is my reading of Matthew 22:36-40.

Finding meaning in someone or something that is outside your control... that's a dangerous prospect. Here's another example... I am about to get on an airplane. I will derive no satisfaction, no sense of a job well done, if / when the airplane touches down at O'Hare. Will I be glad? Of course! But because the successful completion of this flight is completely and utterly out of my control, it will give me no satisfaction... no meaning.

So what else is there? Not to get all CS Lewis on you here, but Ecclesiastes suggests that it is a good thing to find meaning in ones work. And I admit, there is a lot of that in me. This can be a good thing, because, unless you are a... oh, let's pick a good one... Clown at the Goat Rodeo... you have some measure of control over the quality and perhaps even outcome of your work. You control how hard you work. You control how well you do your work. You may not always have direct control over the outcome, especially when you have to rely on colleagues or customers, but if you keep the focus on factors under your immediate control, this makes negative outcomes easier to handle.

[end tangential rant on meaning of life questions...]

All of this leads me back to these last (counts them...) 76 days. I was able to control the number and quality of applications and outreaches I made. And for awhile, I derived some sense of accomplishment from those days when I placed a large number of seemingly relevant applications. Thing is, I had absolutely no control over how, or even whether, the prospective employer would respond. Hyatt, iTKO, JPMorgan Chase, CNA, Riverstar, ArrowStream, they thought about me, many interviewed me, some should have hired me, but none did. Dozens of others never even responded to my application... many of those, too, should have hired me. It would have been better for all of us... me, them, and even you, we all would have been better off had they hired me as soon as they had the chance. They chose not to, for reasons that were absolutely and completely out of my control.

And this drove me batty.

So you'll never guess what I did. I undertook a project over which I had complete and absolute control. I cleared brush off our yard.

Wait... don't laugh. And don't leave. Seriously, think about this for a moment. Growing increasingly frustrated with how things were proceeding, not to mention taking some pride in all the money I was saving us by not having to pay $33 an hour for a yard crew to do the work for us*, I went out and started clearing this mess of a yard of ours. And believe it or not, I felt great peace and satisfaction at the results.

* - No lie, that was the quote. For that price, I would hope the crew would have thrown in some SAP consulting services while they were at it.

See for yourself. Mind you, it's now a group project (any volunteers?), and we are not even halfway done.


After - No livestock or power tools were used in the clearing of this land. Which is a real shame, because I bet it would have been much easier that way. Maybe not both at the same time (livestock using power tools), but certainly one or the other.

Me, and my trusty clippers. You'd be amazed at what they can cut through.

Then what happened? Just about this time, I began a fresh round of applications to employers that, for the most part, neither you nor I had ever heard of. Perhaps it was a coincidence (Gramma MA would say there are no such things), it was just that the timing was right, first signs of the economy improving... or perhaps these afternoons in the yard allowed me to approach this job search thing with a clean mind and sense of purpose... But for whatever reason, these applications resonated with the companies and hiring managers who received them. As of a week ago Monday, I had six things cooking warmly on the front burner, and felt good about almost all of them. I was ecstatic about one or two of them. I have since come to learn that I was a real candidate for most of them. Then, innocently, without much thought, on Monday morning, I applied for yet another position I saw, this time on Linkedin. This application was just another backup for these primary opportunities. I was sure I wouldn't need it, because I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that these other things were going to result in several offers in the next few weeks. But I applied anyway. You can never have too many contingency plans.

Tuesday the hiring manager wrote back, asking to speak with me.

Wednesday, our scheduled 30 minute call ran over by 60 minutes.

Thursday, I had lunch with the local Sales Director. Upon completion of that meeting, he called his colleagues, asked them to circumvent their usual hiring process, and extend me an offer immediately. By the time I got home, I had it.

Friday, I accepted it.

I went from never having heard of the company, to working for them, in 72 hours. And now here I am in Toronto, having put in five days of boot camp training with my new team. It's ironic that, of all the customers I spoke with, all the recruiters who reached out to me and submitted me for jobs (some relevant to my skill set, some not), all the Ladders* openings I applied to... in the end, all of those activities amounted to nothing... they were merely preparatory exercises for the one opportunity that finally, and very quickly, came together. No recruiter was involved, no friends or friends of friends brokered the opportunity. Right place, right time.

* - Note to self... cancel that Ladders premium membership ASAP.

It only takes one.

Live, in-person recital countdown clock: 21 days, and counting.

- Aw2pp, who spent an entire week in Canada, and never once heard someone finish a sentence with "eh". Do they not talk like that anymore?


pdxknitterati said...

Congratulations! I'm glad things have worked out.

M.A. said...

Yard looks great! And of course how clever of you to work for a Canadian company while the good ole USA flounders around! In the words of Pan Am, now go "sell,sell sell!"