the payoff

When I left my job of nineteen-plus years last August, I knew what I was getting into – and at the same time I had no clue. I had spent those years in various forms programming for the financial/output side of the insurance industry. More recently, I had been able to do some technical writing in requirement gathering and project planning. I’d traveled to some really cool places – Philadelphia/Lititz, PA; Seattle/Enumclaw, WA; San Juan/Humacao, PR; Staunton, VA; Tampa/Treasure Island, FL; SFO/San Mateo, CA. Over the years, I met with good people also trying to do their jobs the best they could for their own customer bases. I liked that we were doing our best for them to then do their best for their constituents. I liked that I could work meetings into paragraphs, and I enjoyed the back and forth to “get it right” in putting to paper what the client wanted and how we were going to deliver.

Writing first, programming second – some C++ with a mostly text-based script system. We did some good things, and I liked my job. There wasn’t a reason to leave, except that I had had an itch to find something new. Nothing had really panned out, so I had re-settled into my groove and was ready to stay for the long haul. But then there was an opportunity to start something exciting and new… The Love Boat… soon will be making another run…

I stopped Job #1 of my adult life on Friday, and started Job #2 of my adult life on Monday. I was hired to work on social media initiatives, with a touch of graphic design and programming on the side. That was in August. We’ve been planning and working and replanning and reworking things since then, on multiple fronts, multiple platforms, multiple configurations. It was a huge change for my mindset – honestly, the stress level dropped more than anything. I didn’t know how stressed I must have been but today, I have actual fingernails. I don’t chew them off anymore – that’s been a pretty big realization on my part. I’m on a new team that’s once again fun, professional and trying to do good things for customers. That makes all the difference, doesn’t it?

So what happened last week? We opened the world to a new website design – I had one small part, helping with some of the “search” capabilities, while everyone else poured themselves into what was happening. It’s a major step forward, and folks worked with a real determination to do what’s right, make it easy for the customer, and to build something they could be proud of and management would be happy about. Internally the kudos were there – people from around the company loved it. When the rollout came there were some issues that became the week’s priorities and were quickly sifted out. It was good for me as a newcomer to see the team work as a team and celebrate as a team. It’s a good tech shop, with great people and big dreams.

So what happened to me last week? The new web design shows more prominently than before that we are involved in social media. For the first time in our process, we were getting major play on our Facebook page, on Twitter – even gained a YouTube subscriber or two. A few folks commented on their enjoyment of the new site. We gained visitors, we saw web analytics from the social media links, and we interacted with folks “in the wild” about real things that mattered to them. For me, it meant the things we were doing were going to pay off, that ideas we were having and challenges we were working out had come to a point beyond conjecture and were now really happening in our system.

There’s a scene at the end of The Incredibles where the neighbor kid sees the explosion of Syndrome and the family being saved inside Violet’s forcefield. His jaw drops, he stares at Mr. Incredible, and finally exclaims, “THAT WAS TOTALLY WICKED!” – that was me last week. I was so happy one evening, I tried to explain it all to my 12-year-old. I don’t think she was necessarily impressed, but I do hope some of that excitement from doing something you love rubs off on her so she won’t settle for a career path that’s anything less. I enjoy what I do, still putting in home/offsite time to make myself better, to find better ways to do things, to try to look at things differently and stay up with the growth in these areas. The past week or so has reinforced the decision to move on, to make a change, to move out and try new things in new ways.

I highly recommend…