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 ability to manage your own working hours is invaluable.
- Having a job you can do stoned isn't a pinnacle of achievement.
Earthlight Communications – Owner (1993-1997)
- Superb customer service will earn 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 technical skills.
Internet Alaska – Team Lead (1997-2000)
- Working so hard that you don't sleep, doesn't make anything better.
- When 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 team's 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) the second priority.
- In a support role, your primary job isn't to do your job well. Your job is to maximise other people's 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 gets much more done than being smart.
- It's possible to become accustomed to anything. Make bloody sure you're aware of what you've become accustomed to.
Personal Telco – President (2000-2003)
- More than any other single thing, being successful means not giving up.
- Everything takes longer than you expect. Lots longer.
- In a volunteer based nonprofit, people don't have the shared goal of making money. Instead, each contributor has their own personal agenda which motivates their participation.
- Dreaming big is more fun and less work than doing big.
- Process matters. How you get there will affect 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 sometimes 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 potential confrontation, you sabotage your ability to improve anything.
- Unless you 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 salesman.
Thanks Pat! I think I got giggles because people had only ever seen me in jandals and tshirts! Perils of the tech industry ... :-)
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 Matt. Tell me when you write yours. :-)
That’s an outstanding list. Thank you. I need to think about writing one myself.