Jan 27, 2011

Thanks John

For those of you who haven't been keeping up with my entire illustrious career in the world of high tech, I used to work for a company called Sun Microsystems.  Sun was recently purchased by Oracle, and I still have some friends left over there that I stay in touch with.  Since I had been a Systems Administrator of a large number of Unix-based systems, and was tired of being woken up with problems at 2AM, I took advantage of an opportunity to go to work there as a training course developer.

I met a lot of great people while I worked there, including a fellow blogger who I will not out here unless they ID themselves just in case they want to maintain level 5 security/total EMCON.

As Sun did the death spiral the same way a lot of high tech companies did in the dot-com bust, there were the inevitable lay-offs.  I survived 13 of these before I made the leap over to where I am now, Cisco.

One of my friends and co-workers was John A. He was a very sharp guy and had been doing this for a long time.  I used him as a mentor while I figured out what they hell I was doing around there.  In the lay-offs that I mentioned, there were some that made sense, getting rid of people who really didn't do anything, and there were others that made no sense at all.  There were several instances of a lot of hard working people who actually produced something getting shown the door while their managers simply stepped aside and became a different type of manager.

The reason for telling you all of this background about me is so I can relate a recent series of really crappy days at my current job, and how John probably saved me by something he did for me back then.  I remember towards the end of my tenure there at Sun we had a meeting in one of the conference rooms.  There were 7 or 8 people in that meeting including John and I.  John and I were tasked with getting a couple of training courses out and there were some delays while we were busy killing ourselves trying to get them finished.

The topic of the meeting was why we were late getting these courses out.  As I mentioned, John and I were the only two worker bees in the room.  Every stinking other person in there had manager in their name, including our own manager, some project managers, a process manager, and other people whos job was to sit around and whip the dead horse.

The meeting went on with the usual bullshit being tossed around, quality is priority one, but here is the date it is due, and you better meet that date...  You know the drill.  The question was finally asked how come it takes both of us to get these courses out, because there is a lot more work waiting.

This right on the heels of getting rid of several of our course developers.

Well, I had had enough by this time and was all red in the face and sat forward in my chair.  Just as I was going to start my profanity laced tirade, John reached out, put his hand on my forearm pulling me back and said "It isn't worth it".  That's all, just those few words and I could see understanding on his face.

He took over and calmly told them all about lack of resources, we would have this ready by this date, the next thing would phase in, blah blah.  He spoke their language to them, and I was impressed as they all took it in.

So John had saved me from making a serious career-limiting move that day.  That one event kind of changed the way I try and deal with the crap that flows downhill in my day-to-day job.  Whenever I find myself in a situation like I have recently at work, I always seem to remember John's words now "It isn't worth it".

So thanks John, for saving what little time it turns out I had left at Sun, and more importantly, saving my butt from opening up my mouth here at Cisco now.


  1. Right now I'm imagining John didn't utter those wise words and instead you unleashed a tirade like Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation....

    "I'd like Frank Shirley, my boss, right here tonight. I want him brought from his happy holiday slumber over there on Melody Lane with all the other rich people and I want him brought right here, with a big ribbon on his head, and I want to look him straight in the eye and I want to tell him what a cheap, lying, no-good, rotten, four-flushing, low-life, snake-licking, dirt-eating, inbred, overstuffed, ignorant, blood-sucking, dog-kissing, brainless, dickless, hopeless, heartless, fat-ass, bug-eyed, stiff-legged, spotty-lipped, worm-headed sack of monkey shit he is! Hallelujah! Holy shit! Where's the Tylenol?!"

    Ahhh, not a good career move, but I bet it would have felt FANTASTIC!


  2. Picking your battles is always the best bet. It may not make you feel any better, but it might just save your @$$.

  3. I need a John to follow me around everywhere I go, lol! Good for you, and agree 100% with J.J.

  4. Anonymous7:46 AM

    Oh, I need a John right now. (Sorry, that didn't come out right, did it?) But seriously, your friend is absolutely bang on, it just isn't worth using up much mental energy on people who just don't get it. - G

  5. Anonymous7:57 AM

    I'm with Cora, which is probably why a career in corporate America was never an option for me.

  6. Anonymous8:10 AM

    I feel you. As a fellow trainer...who had to do tons of other shit that had NOTHING to do with training and then being asked why training or the company employee newsletter (that no one reads because it's boring and stupid) wasn't ready, I can say your John is my Ray. My good friend, and fellow "just let it go" guy.

  7. John sounds like a good guy.

  8. He sure had that calming effect on people. I miss working with both of you.