Lessons Learned From Previous Employment

Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk – Concession Operator (1988-1989)

  • Loyalty is only ever earned.
  • Treating people like children, makes them act like children.
  • Punishing people for making mistakes, makes them hide their mistakes.
  • When you aren’t allowed to sit, your feet hurt at the end of the day.
  • Lycra flatters no one.

Dunedin Montessori – Janitor (1991-1993)

  • It’s easy to be lazy.
  • The flexibility to manage your own time is invaluable.
  • Having a job you could do stoned isn’t the pinnacle of achievement you once dreamed of.

Earthlight Communications – Owner (1993-1997)

  • Superb customer service can win you a lot of customer loyalty, but few will pay extra for it.
  • Growing a small business into a large business requires taking enormous risks.
  • Small, tight knit teams are vastly more effective than large ones.
  • Good judgement under pressure is a learned skill.
  • It’s harder to teach social skills than it is to teach technical skills.

Internet Alaska – Team Lead (1997-2000)

  • Working so hard that you don’t sleep, doesn’t make anything better.
  • If the owners of the company can’t work together … run far away.
  • When a company succeeds, there comes a time when the founders must delegate many of their previous responsibilities. Letting this moment slide by unnoticed, can be fatal.
  • It doesn’t matter how good your reputation or product is if you can’t bill effectively.
  • A great manager can make all the difference.
  • Surviving the loss of a key person is never as hard as you think it will be.
  • A good manager puts their teams needs before their own and shelters their team from the pressures above.
  • Sometimes managing your friends really sucks.
  • Threatening to do the ridiculous will sometimes get things done.

Metstream – Principal Engineer (2000-2001)

  • Experienced businessmen can be worth their weight in gold.
  • There is an art to being pushy.
  • Big dreams take big balls.
  • It doesn’t matter how awesome your technology stack is if your ROI is longer than your hardware replacement cycle.

Pixelworks – Systems Administrator (2001-2003)

  • The one thing that managers hate, more than anything else, is being surprised.
  • Working in a cost centre means that you, and your job, are at best a second priority.
  • In a support role your primary job isn’t to do your job well, it’s to maximise other peoples ability to do their job well.
  • Engineers don’t like being wrong.
  • If people don’t understand what you do, and why it’s important, you will not be rewarded.
  • Being conscientious and staying focused is far more important than being smart.
  • It’s possible to get accustomed to anything. Make bloody sure you are aware of what you’ve become accustomed to.

Personal Telco – President (2000-2003)

  • More than any other single thing, being successful at something means not giving up.
  • Everything takes longer than you expect. Lots longer.
  • In a volunteer based non-profit people don’t have the shared goal of making money. Instead each contributor has their own personal agenda which motivates their participation.
  • Unfortunately “dreaming big” is more fun and less work than “doing big”.
  • Process matters. How you get there will effect not only the end result, but how people feel about the end result.
  • Email is “guaranteed” to evoke the worst possible response from someone, especially during conflict.
  • Nothing is as refreshing to the soul as an unexpected act of generosity.
  • In a leadership role it is often more important to have an opinion, than to have the correct opinion.

Weta Digital – Operations Manager (2003-2009)

  • Glamour is only visible from a distance.
  • If you avoid the possibility of confrontation you can never resolve anything.
  • If you don’t ask for it, chances are nobody knows you need it.
  • Most people are incredibly generous when asked directly for help.
  • If you protect people too much, they will not learn the consequences of their actions.
  • Every company is held together by the supreme efforts of certain key people.
  • Effective communication is the largest challenge that every business faces.
  • Curiosity is the most important trait to look for in interviews.
  • Always assume that anything put in writing will end up on the public record.
  • You will be remembered as much for how you leave as for what you accomplished.

Network Appliance – Sales Engineer (2006-2007)

  • Expect giggles the first time people see you in a suit.
  • Meeting workmates face to face is an absolute requirement.
  • The primary job of salesmen is to navigate their own companies bureaucracy on behalf of their customers.
  • Travelling for work can in fact get old.
  • Never try to out drink a salesmen.


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Had to respond Adam! Agree with everything on here. So insightful! Not sure about the suit thing though Adam. I love my suits! It’s a pity we have all become so very casual in our appearance.

Thanks Pat! I think I got giggles because people had only ever seen me in jandals and tshirts! Perils of the tech industry … 🙂

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