Open Letter to Potential Employers

I would do it for half this. In fact, I’d take a 50% cut in my current salary (which is nowhere near this high) for a job that was fun, creative, challenging, and otherwise stimulating.

syracuse

I had to euthanize my heart and soul a couple years ago to stop the pain. I’m studying my ass off and I can feel a new heart and soul growing inside me. I can’t wait to offer them to someone …

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A Few Key Posts

For those who feel 2+ years of a blog qualifies as TL;DR.

Pillar of My Perception

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It is quite possible I would have been content or even happy for the last nine years if not for Mike Ilitch and people like him. Like most organizations, Little Caesar’s had various documents like the Founding Principles, Founding Philosophies (I can’t remember their exact titles but I remember they were two very different lists), Stakeholder Operating Principles, and so on but the #1 rule at the top of whichever was the most common (it’s been a while, cut me some slack) was,

“Little Caesar’s must be a fun place to work.”

It was. I grew a lot. I learned a lot. A great many people who I respected and admired encouraged me and help me along. I miss them.

Little Caesar’s and New Horizons Computer Learning Centers of Michigan (as superior to franchises in other states as you may have heard) are the firm foundation of my very high standards for co-workers and employers. I worked with people that loved what they did, wanted to be, if not the best, then at least great at what they did. They were role models. I miss them.

I am continually disappointed and frustrated with anything less. I’ve spent the nine years since I left Detroit baffled at the Bizarro World that is, apparently, corporate life everywhere else. Thanks, Mr. Ilitch — you ruined me for everyplace else. Though I worked around him, I never worked directly with him so have but one story and I’d like to share it with you so you’ll know what a cool guy and gentleman he was.

Rebecca*, a co-worker, and I walked into the Fox Theatre (current world headquarters of Little Caesar’s, across the street from Comerica Tiger Park which he also owns) at the same time as Mr. Ilitch one day after lunch. After stopping to show the security guard our IDs, we caught up with him in the lobby at the (world’s slowest) elevator.

The doors finally opened and he walked in but we stayed where we were because our boss (the one bad apple in an otherwise orchard of excellence and professionalism) warned us to never get on the elevator with an Ilitch because it was disrespectful or something to make them stop on another floor on their way to the top. Our boss wasn’t the only one who tried to instill fear of the sixth floor in people and, obviously Mr. Ilitch was aware of such nonsense because he waved us on.

We, of course, were like, “No that’s totally cool” but Mr. Ilitch rolled his eyes, waved again and said, “Come on.”

On the elevator, I felt obliged to return this courtesy by trying — for once in my life — to make small talk so I wouldn’t, you know, be ignoring him. I couldn’t think of anything else to say so, still irritated about the security guard asking me to show my badge every single time I entered the building for three years, I asked, “So, do they, uh, make you show your badge, too?”

“No,” he said in a deadpan way that would intimidate those smarter than me into shutting up, “No, we’re past that.”

Too nervous or stupid to leave it at that, I kinda blurted (at a reasonable volume), “So, how are ya?”

Full disclosure: I can’t remember if he said “good” or “fine.”

“Fine,” he deadpanned again, “A bit hung over, but fine.”

He paused for just the perfect amount of time and said, “Kidding. I’m kidding.” just in time for the elevator doors to open on our floor.

Not only was he a gentleman and let us on the elevator but he was genuinely friendly and very, very funny.

And he let us play baseball on the field across the street. And had ice-skating company Christmas parties at Joe Louis Arena. And they paid for me to go to film school so I could make great training and motivational videos for them. And they let me use the recording equipment to make a short film that got shown at Cinema D, the Detroit film festival.

A couple years ago, I interviewed at the headquarters of a Florida furniture company. They asked me some questions about my experience, specifically Little Caesar’s, corporate culture, what I liked about it and so on. I got a little choked up talking about how awesome the Ilitches were and how they treated their employees. The recruiter told me I didn’t get the job (despite getting through 2-3 interviews) because I “got emotional” during the interview. I have one thing to say about Badcock and that interviewer: [potty word] them. Mr. Ilitch’s passing is a great loss–not just to Detroit but to leaders and stewards of outstanding workplace values–and I get emotional about [another potty word] like that.

Epilogue

*While learning to use the new camera equipment they bought me, I went around to various desks and offices asking people to say nice things about me …

That’s Rebecca who sat next to me. She loved it when I’d play it on repeat which I did often (the first part of this sentence is a lie).

It was a fun place to work. Mr. Ilitch’s values live on.

Bad Teacher! Bad!

I’ve started watching Shameless. It now occurs to me that most of my current shows are about families: This Is Us, Speechless. Even my favorite shows that are non-blood-family shows are about workplace families: Newsroom, West Wing, M*A*S*H (LPT: get the DVDs and turn on the no laugh-track setting!) … sorry, I digress.

Fiona attends a free Powerpoint class so she can get a job that pays better and is a better environment than her waitressing gig at Hooters or Titties or whatever it’s called.

She’s completely lost within a couple minutes — through no fault of her own — and quietly leaves the classroom ashamed and discouraged.

As a former classroom teacher and current instructional designer, I wanted to do two things:

  • Slap the teacher in the face with a laptop
  • Give Fiona a hug and properly teach her Powerpoint

Seriously, that scene may have emotionally affected me more than Debbie tucking a pillow under her drunk dad’s head when he passed out on the floor. Similarly, Veronica‘s encouragement (before the class) kinda broke my heart:

“I don’t know what PowerPoint is, but I’m sure you’ll be great at it.”

The Catch-22 Pengiun

I’m not sure if that blue & red penguin meme actually represents catch-22’s, pseudo/non-ironies like the Alanis Morissette song, or simple twists of fate like the Bob Dylan song, but … I think I’ve figured out how to complete my artist object, putting the final piece(s) in — the tracks for each album — which is cool and all but it makes me sad. It means one of the functions I’m proudest of needs to, at the very least, significantly change if not be deleted altogether.

For the curious & interested, here’s the relevant file (lines 167-181) in my rockin’ repo. I’ve added a link to my GitHub profile under the I, Elsewhere links category on the right.

This reminds me: I never finished Catch-22.

You know what I love? Among other things, being able to check out library books on my Kindle Fire. It might not be a proper Android tablet, but I love it.

Little Things That Give Me Hope

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The above quote from JavaScript Jabber was like someone reaching down to help me up after fifty guys beat the crap out of me. For so long, I’ve felt like, “How am I the only one who sees how ridiculously stupid this process is?”

Another favorite:

“If you ever find yourself as the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room.” – Shaun Johnson, Founder of Startup Institute

Source: Debugging the Interview: Land a Junior Developer Job

I’ve been in the wrong room for far too long. I’ve said for a while now that all I want in a boss is that they know at least as much as I do. Here’s that quote in context:

“You can be okay being ignorant. I know that’s very hard to say, but it’s a very wise saying. If you ever find yourself as the smartest person in the room, you’re in the wrong room. If you’re in the world of web development, you always want to feel like you’re not that smartest person in the room. The more comfortable you are being uncomfortable, the better you will be at tackling harder challenges and continuing to grow as a developer.”

Not So Stupid Question

The last couple days I’ve been struggling with functions in jQuery. One of my struggles is using non-anonymous functions. In the examples I’m looking at and in the notes I keep in my handy-dandy notebook, there are no named jQuery functions.

I find this extremely odd.

I googled “named functions jquery” and was comforted to find the first page of results filled with people asking questions about creating and calling named functions in jQuery. I love it when I find out I’m not stupid.

You’d think that I’d stop thinking I’m stupid given that every experienced developer says all these struggles, feelings and questions are common.

Nope.