|random thoughts and thoroughbred selections|
|"All life is 6-5 against" - Damon Runyon|
Thursday, October 25, 2007
That Fucking Carrot
I'm coming up on my 20 month anniversary for the job that brought me to (or, rather, near) the east coast.
Don't send flowers, seriously. It's not that big a deal.
What brought me out here was really a variety of factors... a melange of things, if you will. The main reasons they wanted me were that they needed someone better than the chick they had to fire and I was working an account with nowhere to go but down.
In other words, I was available.
What sold me on the move, however, was the carrot. There was a contract under discussion. That contract had been in negotiations for about a year, but I was told it was close to fruition. The contract would have expanded our business and given me some unique exposure into Europe and Asia, along with a fairly solid promotion and the chance to manage my own crew.
Sounded good to me. I put on
I must have done something right, as I won the My Job Title Person Of The Year award for 2006. Seriously though, who else would they have given it to? I get up off the couch after my surgical convalescense, fly back and forth to god's country here in PA for three months, live in a hotel for another, and rebuild Humpty Dumpty into a leaner and meaner model (with gradient colors and a swoosh, just because he's HumpDump2.0, doncha know). From day one on the account I start assuming more responsibilities, and within the first six months I'm effectively doing the job two titles above my own.
I'm kicking ass. And staring hard at the carrot.
December 2006 comes, and the guy who is nominally "running" my account (who works elsewhere, but watches over things in general) gets canned. I'm now the only one in the division with my job title who reports directly to the Regional Director, just like the people who have that two-north-of-me job title and who do all the things I do on a day-to-day.
I start to have some existential angst over the fact that I'm a unique animal in my company. I'm the only one north-to-south on the roster who runs a program and doesn't have the title. It's upsetting, this much is true...
...But there's that carrot. Back in December 2006, a European launch was a high-profile proposition. Emerging markets, eager corporate attention and the opportunity to be the guy making the footprint for our business model was enough to keep my attention. I plugged away and maintained our business, working to try and keep the contract discussions on track.
June 2007 comes, and I finally get promoted - but it's only one step. I'm still not carrying the title for the job I do, but I understand the problem. It's not a big account, despite my having restored its profitability. It's on shaky ground, and it'd be easier to move me laterally if I'm not carrying the weight of a managerial title. I get these things. It doesn't make me happy, but I get it. The Regional Director assures me this is the right move anyway, because we're so very close to getting the contract closed.
Thing is, by this point I'm in the room for the negotiations. I'm beginning to understand the language and intentions of the language so much so that I've actually written two of the ten or more schedules to the deal.
We are close. I know we are. I'm being kept abreast of the discussions, and I know which points we're going to negotiate on, and on which ones we maintain our obstinance.
As the months pass from December to June, however, I begin to see people and opportunities passing me by. The job I wanted in Oregon in March of 2006 probably would have gotten me the two-step promotion I desire. Another account of ours in the region goes to a less qualified incumbent (who, by all accounts, is a wonderful person who does a great job). I'm prevented from seriously considering a couple of other things that pop up too, as it becomes clear that this business, should we expand it, in the eyes of our client is my business.
But Europe starts to open up. The footprint is marked, former peers pass me by and "do their rotations" in Spain and the Netherlands.
Europe comes off the table for us in negotiations.
That's okay, still plenty to learn and do with a US-based expansion. I can find the appropriate level of excitement, I suppose.
Late August 2007 hits, and we agree in principle on all the language in the Master Agreement. We're working through September and October to generate the flowthrough documents (what we mandate third-parties shall do as a condition of the Master Agreement), and it looks like my promotion, if not the European business, is about to become a reality.
Three weeks ago today, one of the contractors my office is responsible for purchasing doesn't call, doesn't show. Three weeks ago tomorrow, his wife makes a cryptic call to his manager, letting him know he'll be out a couple of days.
Two Tuesdays ago, she calls and quits for him, as he's been arrested on an outstanding bench warrant which won't be resolved anytime soon.
Naturally, upon finding this out two Tuesdays ago, I audit my supplier and obtain the contractually mandated copy of the background check. It's from one of the country's biggest data aggregation companies (a billion dollar firm based in Atlanta who happen to be a favorite of the tinfoil hat crowd, if that helps), and it states they have checked his records on a state and federal level and have found no felonies.
Two Tuesday nights ago the manager uses his mad Google-fu to find out the contractor has a rap sheet on a variety of fairly serious felony charges (although, one could argue that he posed no danger unless we also hired his wife).
Two Wednesdays ago I escalate this up through my channels in the client's corporate purchasing group, and start to prepare a case study on the issue. A background check was performed. A computer hiccupped. A felon slipped through the cracks. The fault should be pointed appropriately.
Last week Thursday the Director of the group who hired this contractor sent an email to every VP she could find in her address book. The email was laced with invective, lies and scurrilous assumptions, including a statement as fact that "no background check was performed."
Last week Friday I responded with a timeline of facts, and a rational dissection of the issue.
On Monday a VP sent an email to my client contact calling me a liar. He wrote that we must be trying to cut cost by skipping this contractually mandated step, and said I was obviously lying.
On Tuesday, my client contact warned me the echo chamber was continuing to pulse with a half dozen VPs attempting to fix an issue that amounts to a single data point over hundreds or thousands of incidences. So much for reason and logic, I suppose.
Today, at 4PM, I was informed that my client contact's boss wants my program shut down immediately. No more contract discussions, no further activity. These instructions are coming via email from Asia, and my contact continues to do a noble job of attempting to inject fact and reason into the discussion.
I'm betting right now that's going to be in vain. And I'm betting that in 60 days or less I'll be asked to evaluate a couple of lateral moves which, on the plus side, will move me out of this area, but on the negative side, will put another year or three between me and that carrot.
Yes, I understand that this is probably a good time to get my resume in order.
Wednesday, October 24, 2007
Asleep At The Switch
Why, my friends, have you failed to tell me about cassoulet?
I was watching Tony Bourdain's show on his visit to Cleveland, in which he constructs this French peasant dish out of beans, root vegetables and pork called "cassoulet." Here's a picture I took of his French oven before baking:
You see that stuff hanging over the edges? That's PIG FAT. Sheets of PIG FAT.
Why, oh why, have you not told me that I can line my cookware with PIG FAT?
To paraphrase Fletch, if these photos were at all legible, you'd get the point.
Where do I get four square feet of pig fat? Do you eat it when you're done with the beans and sausage in the cassoulet proper?
AND WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME THIS WAS A POSSIBILITY?
I'm deeply ashamed of the entire lot of you.
Bill Simmons @ ESPN
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