Aug 11 2012

Thinking of Penguins

Published by at 2:06 am
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Yet another sleepless night thinking about something and needing to put it to “paper” so I can rest my brain.

Yet another super successful end of sprint for the high profile project I’ve been working on for the last 8 months and yet… something feels lacking. I’m working on THE premier project of THE leading company that’s at the forefront of developing THE premier holistic solution for Environmental Health Safety & Sustainability, which is one of THE key passions in my life and one of THE key problems of the 21st century and yet… something feels lacking. Something I had in the past, something I don’t really feel I have today in my work.

I was asked by my boss today, “Why? What was different about back then?

Thanks Phil, good way to get my brain going…

 

Just as I was about to fall asleep tonight it hit me:
Because I’m not managing, not leading, leading, not empowering change. None of those things.

I miss the days of leading a development team (albeit small). I miss leading SCRUM.  I miss the days of working with subject matter experts directly, talking about the applied science of what we were trying to build and co-authoring requirements with them and the product owner. I miss the day of working with sales and solution engineers, developing long term strategies for a product, establishing estimates, and committing to a road map with my team’s support. I miss the days of reporting to (for the internet name protected) A.B. and being his instrument of change. We did amazing things back then, only 3-4 years ago. I lead all kinds of internal change initiatives. To this day I’m still the owner of artifacts from those days. I authored documents and lead the charge on ideas which are only now coming to fruit in the project I’m now a development team member of. I was taking managerial and leadership training courses on a regular basis internally and externally to the company. As I was wrapping up (finally) my degree at the time, I switched my major to be focused on business administration to support my new chosen carrier path.  I went through internal talent scoping 3 times in a row. I was evaluated as a DI or “Inspirational Pattern” and told that I was one of few people in the company who matched that pattern, those being senior leadership including Jerrie. Everything was sunshine and roses. I was on the path.

A path I’m no longer on today. What do I have to show for it? Yes I’m a contributing member of that development team and I enjoy the project I’m on, but I’m not leading change. That is what I’m built for. That’s what my brain is wired to do. Change management is in my blood. On top of all of that, I’ve too drained every day doing this high profile project I don’t have the energy to lead HILYMI like I used to, it’s fallen after 6 years from a 25-man guild of 100 or so people to a lowly 10 man guild with only about 15-20 active people. Leading 15-20 people is not the same challenge and/or doesn’t seem to have the same reward for me as organizing a larger organization. Furthermore, all my brain power is going toward expanding and honing my development skills while my managerial, organizational, change management, project management, etc skills are falling by the wayside.

I feel like I’ve taken at least 1 if not 2 steps backward in my career from where I was and no one ever explained to me what even happened. Was I not ready? Did I do something to tick someone off? I’ve never been good at politics (too honest and upfront). I frankly have no idea what could have happened over the course of the last absolutely crazy 4 years of my career. All while not being told anything other than “good job” and high remarks on everything I’ve ever done and delivered. “One of the top 3 performers under <name omitted>“, I was told. I don’t know anymore. I haven’t had time to even think much about all this in the last 8-9 months, but today all these thoughts are coming to the forefront of my mind. I was initially so jazzed about this new project I’m on, I doubt I even went into much detail with my last boss about all this, probably a little, but not much. Not like the bomb I dropped on my new boss today.

Maybe I need to focus more on the things I can do within my own team to lead little bits of change within the team. Maybe I should engage with Ted to see what little things I can do with our Sharepoint which will improve something. Maybe I need to work with my P.O. more and volunteer extra time to help work out the backlog. That’s a positive change, adding clarity where the dev team has been asking for more. I want to make a difference. Not like “I build code” kind of different or even “I build code that writes code” kind of difference. Something, I don’t know. I want to do all kinds of things that are completely unrelated to development, but I’ve been to focused on the day to day task at hand on a very aggressive agile project, that I haven’t had the time other than retros to feel like I can even communicate my ideas for change. Maybe that’s why I like retros so much. Maybe I don’t have time to help lead change, but I can at least communicate and inspire others to hear thoughts on it, to rally around my ideas.

I’m rambling at this point, but what I do know is this: I’m a good developer, but I’m a great leader. I have the potential within me to be a world class leader. I know it. I feel it. I want to pursue that dream. Maybe I should listen to the Heart of Change or some other work by Kotter again. I need his inspiration.

P.S. If this plugin I installed works correctly, this should publish an update on my Facebook status.

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May 10 2010

Consumer Debt Free

Published by at 2:47 pm
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Thanks to a large tax return from getting married, buying a house, making home improvements, and finishing school…

My Mastercard – empty
Kerrie’s Mastercard – empty
Kerrie’s Business Credit – empty
American Express – empty
My prius loan – paid

What’s left? House (5%), windows (home improvement loan to be refinanced and consolidated), Kerrie and my student loans(5-6%), and Kerrie’s Prius (4%) which is at a lower interest than the house. All this right on time for Kerrie and my 1 year anniversary. Oh and I’d like to thank Mark Nortman of Ameriprise and David Bixel of MB Tax Pros for their wonderful financial planning and tax preparation services.

On top of that, my work is finally going to be adjusting me to a REASONABLE rate June 1st (though they still have work to do and they know it) and we have a comfortable amount of money in savings left over from paying off debts. Furthermore, I will be getting several stock vestings this month which is going to allow us to buy a Porta-Bote (www.porta-bote.com). These things are amazing and will not only be fun for us, but will add to my recent re-addiction into mastering the art of fishing. We have a trip planned for next weekend, then the weekend after I plan on going fishing with Dan in central Oregon, then the week after we plan on ordering the boat, beginning of June I’ll be attending a fly fishing class at Blue Lake and from there it’s all gravy.

Good times are ahead of us. I think while this last year was pretty fast paced, stressful, and a roller coaster, I think in the coming years will be good to us and we can focus on doing well at our careers, advancing slowly in the companies that we’re now pretty happy with, and progressing through our list of things we want to enjoy / accomplish together.

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Oct 25 2009

Graduation

Published by at 8:32 pm
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Placeholder:

Friday drive in the storming rain
Friday ceremony
“Always Ready”
Saturday, Hurricane Ridge and the drive there
Sunday, Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, Packwood (jo jo’s), Hood River, Mt. Hood, Timberline Lodge, homeward bound

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Oct 02 2009

It’s great to be coding again

Published by at 12:04 pm
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Between diving back into ecoAsset Manager 11 and development work for my senior project, I don’t know… I feel like I can take on the world right now.  I feel like I haven’t felt in a long time, just being able to dive in and develop code. Good, clean, functional, fast code.

I’m especially enjoying doing more and more with LINQ and Entity Framework.  It’s so fast to be able to bang out querries which you MIGHT be able to write in as little time in pure SQL, but the beauty of how LINQ handles the queries for you is awesome. Plus, you know that due to the strongly typed nature of the Entity Framework, that your query will WORK as you write it. There’s no ambiguousness that your query won’t work. Maybe sometimes you might still inject some business logic wrong in the query, but basic run of the mill queries are a compile time validation activity. I just hope that in .Net 4.0, they resolve some of the minor annoying things when dealing with the Entity Framework like how to manage related data.

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Sep 15 2009

What DO I want?

I was asked to day by someone today, who I highly respect:

What do you want to be doing?

I didn’t really have an answer for him. Partially because I don’t even know how the cards will fall and what the reporting structure and new career paths will be when things are done. Right now the best I can tell anyone is what I DON’T want to be doing.

I made a conscious effort many years ago to pursue a role in some kind of leadership or management position. I enjoy it. I was given the opportunity. I think I shined in my role I’ve been taking in the last year. Overall, there are very few things I think I would have done differently. Anyone who REALLY knows me, it gives me a lot of personal pleasure helping guide a team, large or small, to an inevitable victory. I get the most pleasure from assisting others than doing individual things myself. While individual accomplishments are great and all, I’d rather see the whole team succeed (of course that includes my success too, I’m no martyr). I think in some level once you’ve reached a certain point in your career, you need to have ownership of something bigger, something visionary. I’m well past that point today. I mean, look at why I keep getting guild leadership on my lap so quickly. I’m hedging bets right now on how long I’ll be in Heretic before I’m approached about becoming an officer.

On top of my personal level of enjoyment in leadership and management, I also personally believe that I’m not all that great of a developer. I know I keep bringing this up. I know that many people SAY that I’m an amazing developer who does wondrous things, has a grand mind for architecture, and has an amazing combination of skill sets… I don’t know I don’t believe it. I think I’m a mediocre developer with lots of crazy ideas and some of those pan out to be good ones and that makes people notice me. As a “skillful” developer, again I think that I struggle keeping up with all the new moving parts and changes to technology. I know enough to be able to come up with vision and product prototypes, but I’m not really great at producing something… well I guess I am. Yeah OK, I am what everyone says, but I think I’m much better at other stuff. I have more POTENTIAL in pursuing a position with some kind of leadership component to it.

Most of all, I don’t want to be an individual contributor on a team that simply writes common components. That’s not fun to me. I don’t think that would have ever been fun for me, even in my early career. I’ve always enjoyed owning a single product or core piece of a product, than writing behind the scenes common components?!? I’d rather be an individual contributor on a single product that I can have some shared personal ownership of something that’s being given to a customer. I’d rather be the leader of a common components team. I’d rather be an individual contributor on an architecture team, due to the fact that even individual contributors on a team like that help guide other teams, assisting them improve how they do things. I don’t know. Maybe I’m overly thinking things, but I’ve never been on a team that built common components for consumption in other products. I really don’t think I’d enjoy doing that work. Maybe leading it, but not being an individual contributor.

Sigh. What’s worse is that as part of my final 2 courses for school, completing in 5 weeks now, I’ve been HAVING to update my resume and talk with career advisers. It’s bad enough that I’m pissed off about how horribly my pay has been handled at work, it’s worse that I have people at my school reminding me of the fact that with my degree, grades, and experience I shouldn’t have to take this crap. The problem is that at the end of the day, I LOVE the company I work for and I think they will do me right eventually. I’m just not sure how much longer myself or my wife can stomach “eventually”.

Right now I’m trying to focus on our yearly user conference next week. I’ve been preparing screen mock-ups of the next release for presentations and working on concept screens of the new development we’re planning for 2010. Hopefully the cards will fall sometime in the next week or two. Maybe once the OTHER stuff is set in stone, things will be easier to see how I fit and where I want to be. Right now, being a nomad in no-man’s land is not fun.

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Sep 03 2009

Limits of Sacrifice

Published by at 5:35 pm
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As soon as I thought life was going back to normal, well it wasn’t quite normal anymore.

I’m in my final classes finishing my degree finally. Career development and my Senior Project. School stress is coming to an end and less than 7 weeks now and I’ll have my degree. Most likely I will be graduating with a 4.0 gpa with highest honors.  I’m done moving into my new house and pretty soon I’ll have 2 wonderful kitties. I’ve given up on guild leadership and joined a well established guild (http://www.pakcafan.org) so there’s no more stress  in my gaming life anymore. In theory I should be at probably one of the lowest stress points in the last 3 years right now, but I feel like I’m at the peak of it.

My role at work is also changing and it’s probably one of the most stressful career changes in my life. I’m not quite sure how to put it in words what I’m going through. Whenever I’m confused and stressed, particularly at work, I look to HBR and John Kotter.

Leaders establish the vision for the future and set the strategy for getting there; they cause change. They motivate and inspire others to go in the right direction and they, along with everyone else, sacrifice to get there. – John P. Kotter

Sacrifice is something that I’m familiar with. But right now I’m starting to wonder if I’m sacrificing too much. I’ve been challenged with a pretty tough new role in the company, but I feel like while I’m putting in a lot into this role people aren’t giving me the support I need. My role isn’t being well defined and on top of that, there’s no real promotion I’m getting with this role change even though it’s more responsibility and stress. I mean I could deal with an ambiguous job description with the right pay or I could deal with continuing to be screwed on pay if there was a concrete job description and level of empowerment / responsibility. I also feel like there is a bunch of stuff people… one person in particular… isn’t telling me. I don’t like being treated like a mushroom. I continue to press forward in my new role, trying to establish vision, coordinate with others, and make myself and the entire domain successful, but I dunno… something is missing. Maybe I should be patient. Maybe things will just work themselves out. I just… don’t know what to think right now.

My general mood is rather manic right now. I swing from overly enthusiastic, ready to face the challenge head on to really self doubting, depressed, stressed out, and pissed off. It’s a very odd feeling. I want to stay positive, but meh. We’ll see. We’ll see…

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Jul 24 2009

Been a crazy quarter

Published by at 7:55 am
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So I don’t think I can begin to write everything that’s happened in the last two months so I’ll keep it short to a bullited list. To sum things up, we did a lot, many things were accomplished, we got very tired, we are just now catching up to a semi-normal (for us anyways) way of life.

  • End of April / beginning of May made offers on the Pasadena house we were renting
  • May 15th, found out that it was a no-deal with our x-landlord, started searching on our own for a new house
  • May 16th, got a realtor (Lynn Cumberland, refered from Brad Hansleman who was refered by Mark Nortman), did drive-bys on the first huge set of houses
  • May 17th, did walk throughs of the first set of houses
  • May 18th, made a deal on Derry Lane house
  • May 20th, no-deal on Derry Lane, went on to search for more
  • May 21st, through drive by’s and other things shortened 3 lists of 50+ houses down to 12
  • May 23rd, saw all new houses and fell in love with Cougar Place, made an offer
  • May 24th, we had an accepted offer
  • May 27th, home inspection
  • June 3rd, had appraisal
  • June 6th, we got boxes and the packing begins!
  • June 11th, FHA docs to sign
  • June 15th, notice to Pasadena landlord
  • June 22nd, my 30th birthday
  • June 23rd, conditional approval
  • June 26th, final approval
  • June 29th, signing
  • June 30th, closing and got our keys at 7:30 PM PST
  • June 30th – July 4th, move-in of delicate items
  • July 3rd, our fridge arrived
  • July 4th, rewired / upgraded our ethernet in the house
  • July 5th, the big move in thans to UHaul and A+ Student Movers
  • July 6th, our washer/dryer arrived and comcast got us setup
  • July 6th, my final term of my Bachelor’s degree begins
  • July 7th – July 11th, move of final items including plants
  • July 11th, final cleaning
  • July 13th, move out inspection
  • July 16th, saw Dave Bixel, a tax professional that works with Mark Nortman (our financial advisor)
  • July 18th, went fishing
  • July 19th, painting in Kerrie’s office is compelte
  • July 20th, life returns to a semi-state of normal

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Jun 30 2009

Home ownership

Published by at 10:35 am
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Mission complete… very tired right now… to be filled later…

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Feb 26 2009

Polishing Style

Published by at 11:33 pm
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Let’s face it. I’m opinionated guy. Although I’m opinionated, I’m not a stick in the mud and am MORE than willing to understand the view point of the other side and like to have honest discussions and come to equal understandings of the problem so that everyone involved comes to logical conclusions. So one can say that I do my share of persuading, asking of ideas, brainstorming in discussions, and in general always do so in a very enthusiastic way. My communication style is very unique and take an entire project management team and every single manager in the local office I work in and I’m the only person with my unique communication style. If you are at all familiar with DiSC, I was the only one at our office for example who was a high “i”. Because of my unique and generally unfamiliar communication style to others, I’m often perceived incorrectly by most until people get to know me and then they “get where I’m coming from”.

I’m also a very open and strait forward person. I don’t hide my opinions, right or wrong and love to share them, but am willing and welcoming to opposition to my opinions. The way I see it, how do I know that my opinions are wrong if I don’t share them and give someone else the opportunity to correct me? Equally so, if someone has something to gain like overall understanding of the problem thanks to my opinion, I like to share that information.

Unfortunately my unique form of communication style doesn’t mesh well with the fact that I’m younger than all of my peers and most of my colleagues in general. This last fact is something that sucks, but I’ve slowly come to accept over time and realize that while it sucks I do need to recognize that there is a certain level of age discrimination that exists and egos get in the way. I can’t fight it, so I need to just learn how to deal with it.

Fact is I’ve been described as overwhelmingly enthusiastic, intimidating, overly opinionated, cocky, pontificating, and a myriad of other terms. Am I truly this way or is honestly true that I’m being perceived incorrectly? Maybe I am… maybe I’m just being perceived as such. Maybe it’s as simple as some words I use on the phone that without simple gestures and body language leave others to fill in the blanks. Regardless, there is an opportunity for improvement and something I need to adjust. The problem is identifying the exact item that is incorrect. I can’t identify the problem myself and am getting vague examples at best.

So here are some recommended reading for myself to get my mind on the right track and help me figure out what I’m doing wrong. It’s a big concern and something I really need to focus on improving.

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Feb 25 2009

A new regular reader

Published by at 5:32 pm
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So I found out today during a meeting with some of my peers that apprently my boss reads my blog. I didn’t tell him I had a blog… maybe I mentioned it in passing, I can’t remember. Who knows, maybe he was just curious and found me while searching for topics that I’ve blogged about, or maybe he knew I was a blogger, or someone slipped my URL to him. Either way it seems like Andrew is reading my blog now which is kinda good and kinda bad. I will continue to blog as I always have, not caring about who’s reading which might be bad sometimes, but in general I think that if he does read my blog he’ll have a better understanding of how I think and might be able to help coach me.

So Andrew… welcome to my brain. As I’m sure you’ve already noticed I’ve been blogging for a very long time, over 4 years now. Here is where I collect my thoughts and take things out of my mental reserves. Here is where I put my stresses to paper and let them sit and collect. Here is where I explore my deepest ideas about myself and work through my shortcomings, strengths, and weaknesses.

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