Saturday, October 24, 2009

Yet Another New Chapter In My Life

Aduro_G4_0003 My life has, so far, been a simple one from my perspective. I pretty much fly along whatever path life takes while making minor course corrections as I go and think it is necessary. It’s kind of funny because I often go through life like I am having one long 39-year out-of-body experience. I see things happening as though I am watching them happen to someone else. I have always lead my life as honest and kind to others as I could be. Not because I am religious, I am far from that, but because it just feels right.

Unfortunately I get taken advantage of a lot and that is too bad. I don’t lie to people because, first of all it’s not fair, and also because I have a crappy memory and I don’t want to waste my brain cells trying to remember what I said to whom. It is much easier just to tell the truth all the time and not worry about it. That said, I am not going to say things that will hurt other people. Sometimes you can leave out details and let people jump to their own conclusions without actually having to say anything.

That is another thing, I listen a lot. Some people talk WAY too much. It’s like they just want to hear themselves talk. I can’t even count the number of times I almost said something and decided not to and it turned out that I was very glad I kept my mouth shut.

In business I have found that being a good listener is one of the most valuable traits you could ever have. I sit in meetings all the time where two people are talking and they are both saying the exact same thing but arguing right and left about it because they don’t listen to what each other is saying.

Anyways, I’m rambling on but the point is that things just happen to me. It’s like the laws of attraction operate in my favor because I generally always have positive energy. Take work, which is basically the main topic of this post. When I was going to college I was working with my dad in construction during the summer and with a computer store during the winter. I put myself through college, books, tuition, everything. It was hard, and it took a long time to pay back the student loans, but I did it. When I got out of college and started the other half of my university transfer program at U of C, I was literally out of money and starving. I was only able to get about a year and a half into my two year program before I had to get a “real job” and neglect to finish my degree.

My first IT job was at a computer store as a technician. It came naturally to me and I enjoyed working with computers and dealing with the public. After a few months I was promoted to “Saturday Manager” which didn’t sit will with some of the other people that were there for a lot longer than me. Still, I took on the responsibility with gusto and did a very good job of it. When I had any spare time I was cleaning up the place and organizing things so we could be more efficient. Well all good things must come to an end and we found out that we were going to be bought out by a big US company.

As that boat started shaking I got a call from a college buddy that was working for a small software company downtown. They needed a new system administrator and thought I might be interested. Naturally I took the job right away and moved on to the next chapter of my life while the computer store went out of business (the buyout never happened). The new job was not too bad and they had a pretty relaxed environment. Although the pay wasn’t that great there was a lot of room for advancement. Within a year I was talking to my boss letting him know that being a sysadmin was not my main goal in life and that I wanted to take advantage of my education and get into programming. I got the speech about how they don’t pigeon hole people and that as long as I could find someone to fill my position they would be glad to have another good developer on staff.

As my eight and a half year career with the company went on, I quickly grew. People above me left and I climbed up the ranks to where I was doing project management, business analysis and technical sales support with my good friend and co-worker, Bill, who just so happened to be the guy that originally hired me at the computer store when I was going to college. I ended up suggesting to my boss that we hire him when the computer store went under.

My best friend since grade three, Chris, also joined our company after some nagging from me for a couple years. The three of us were an awesome team and we got a lot of work into the company. Again, things don’t last forever and one of the partners that owned the company got cancer and passed away. The remaining partner in the company, my boss, had a lot of legal crap to deal with and the boat started shaking pretty good. Work began to dry up too and we had to let a lot of good people go. That is when I got this crazy idea to start my own software company.

After a lot more nagging I convinced Chris to join me and we started our own software company. It was awesome, we worked hard, treated our clients with respect and did a good job. The company grew over 6 years to 17 people including Chris and I. We were getting a lot of work, but we were not charging enough and our capital and operational costs were way too high. With a tearful goodbye we were forced to close the office, sell off everything and let all our employees go. We were originally going to file for bankruptcy but found out that is more expensive than just paying the debt ourselves. That and I also believe that when you make your bed you need to sleep in it. We got into this mess ourselves and it is our responsibility to get out of it ourselves.

So began another chapter in my life. Down to just the two of us, I raised our rates up to where they should be and we both got a decent amount of work contracting. I was working for the Airport on a contract doing Project Management work and it was really a great job. I got along with everyone and enjoyed all the interesting technology I was involved with. Yet again, it didn’t last. The amount of work they had for me got very slim and due to some major construction projects over the next 10 – 20 years and the recession they were trimming budgets right and left. Turns out I would probably have nothing much to do for the rest of this year and very little if anything next year. With a house and a young family to support, panic was setting in. I had resumes out everywhere and went to a couple interviews, but nothing much came out of it. That is, until one of the vendors that we dealt with at the airport invited me for lunch.

This is getting to be a very long story, but anyway he offered me an incredible opportunity in his company as a Senior Business Analyst. I just finished my first week there and so far I am very impressed. This, I think will be one of the most exciting chapters in my work life. The company produces a Geographic Information System (think Google Maps, but for both outside and inside buildings). Something I am very interested in, and I look forward to learning a lot more about.

For those who are wondering, the software company we started is still fully operational but my time and effort towards the company is much more limited than it was.

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