Full-time Employee position

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Today I formally accepted a job offer that I’m pretty excited about. I won’t share all the details until the paperwork goes through, but next month I’ll be the Learning Technology & Analytics Manager for a global company!

And, to be honest, this moment is kinda scary too. I mean, I’ve had my own business for 15 years now, and I actually only had a “full-time employee position” once before in my life…back when I was 23 years old. For anyone who’s counting, why yes that is over 20 years ago and please don’t rub it in ;) At this point in my life, I really don’t think of myself as the kind of guy who does such things. Yet here I am. Why am I here?

The Search

Ever since I completed Seth Godin’s altMBA program last year, I’ve been on the hunt for opportunities to do “work that matters for people who care”. Turns out that’s not so easy to find.

After 3-months of searching for higher-quality clients and better quality work to fuel my own business, I came to the realization that this likely wouldn’t be possible given the nature of my work. The Learning & Development field mostly exists to help smooth over the bad decisions that were made in other parts of an organization. There is certainly plenty of opportunity make things better in a company through learning programs — in fact, at times like this it’s undeniable that such efforts will be one of THE key differentiators between companies that survive and those that don’t — but at present most are ill-equipped to capitalize on such things for a variety of reasons.

Basically, I want to do work that’s inherently worth doing, and it’s hard to find anywhere that people both agree with me on what that looks like AND need help making it happen.

Typically, the people who would bring me in spend way too much time trying to justify the work they are used to putting out. As a consultant coming in from the outside, I can say so much and I can only go so deep. Especially when dealing with the metrics behind what makes the business work, people tend to play their cards very close to the vest. I’m only permitted to help with project level work, not systemic changes.

Work for an employer directly and the game changes, though. In this position, I see a chance to shape the learning vision, infrastructure, process, and indeed ultimately the direction of the entire company journey for all current and future employees. Maybe even partners, we’ll see. Though my manager is someone I’ve only just met, our core values seem remarkably well-aligned. Due to the trust we be both have for the person who referred us to each other, we trust one another to continue to build out an incredible team of people who are capable of doing work that actually matters. Yes, I want on that team!

The Perks

I’ve not had a paid vacation day since…2005 I guess? Even then, I was usually double-booking them with other work to make ends meet. Growing up with entrepreneur parents, getting paid not to work has always been a weird concept to me.

So is employer-provided healthcare, that one sounds like it’s straight out of a dystopian sci-fi movie. I still can’t believe people bought that one. But if I don’t have to pay both ends of bill by myself, I guess it might be okay.

And 401K matching? Whoa, that’s like free money! Such a bizarre thing — and sure I’ll take it.

I do remember the glory of the ESOP plan, I tripped and fell into one of those in 2005 and it’s pretty much the ONLY reason I have any retirement savings at all. Meager though it may be, that’s exactly what I’ve been borrowing against to make it through the last 3 months of Global Corona Fever.

When I weighed the job offer’s salary against my consulting rate on a simple hourly basis, it was less than half. Then when I adjusted the full package compensation based on the number of hours actually worked, it came out nearly even.

Dang! This was quite a wakeup call for me.

Clearly, I won’t be making more money, I’ll just be working a helluva lot less to get it, and getting it a lot more regularly, and with other benefits that reduce my overall expenses and increase peripheral opportunities.

Oh and did I mention? This just is fully remote. So not only can I work from the middle of Utah now, I can work from anywhere I please anytime I want going forward. Flexibility has always been critically important for me, and it doesn’t get any more flexible than that!

The Relief

I talked to my Dad about this job last night. “The scramble gets old, doesn’t it?” he laughed.

Yup, sure does, Dad.

I’m 44 years old now. I still have a lot of the energy and drive I did 10 years ago, but not all of it. And 10 years from now? While I do plan to still be in good health then (and am actively changing behaviors to help!), that seems unrealistic.

Maybe I’ll still be at this same company in a decade’s time, maybe I won’t. But running my same old company that I’ve been running since over a decade ago, and running it the same way, and running so hard to make it run at all? That seems like a bad plan for the future.

Now I’m not looking to take it easy. I am ready and willing to work hard! But if I’m going to work hard, I want to work toward something rather than away from something. In this opportunity I see the chance to work toward a life that doesn’t require me to scramble and over-commit myself across dozens of different projects. That kind of thing used to be exciting for me! These days, the thrill is gone and it’s all just “stuff that’s gotta get done or else”.

When I think about focusing and deepening in just a certain area like learning technology & analytics, it sounds like a luxury.

I realize this is actually a wide responsibility, and might be dauntingly broad to some. For an actor turned musician turned waiter turned audio engineer turned event producer turned office manager turned community manager turned writer turned web developer turned videographer/editor turned facilitator turned instructional designer turned LMS implementations specialist turned business owner turned teacher turned coach turned publisher turned network administrator turned expert witness turned analyst? It still sounds like a luxury to me.

The Pluses & Minuses

+ The fact that it’s a company not based in my native USA is a big plus. Having my primary source of income and my primary bank accounts and my citizenship all tied to the same country is a precarious lifestyle design flaw that I’ve been trying to fix for a while.

+ The fact that their bottom line has not been adversely impacted by pandemic is a huge plus. They’re in an industry that is unaffected by most such predicable calamities.

+ The fact that the offer comes by way of personal recommendation from a trusted friend is probably the biggest plus of them all! (Thanks Trish!!!)

Minuses?

- Well, I have to manage people, kinda. I’ll be a “dotted-line” manager, which means I’ll take an active role, but I don’t have to hire/fire anyone or deal with much of the mind-numbing bureaucratic stuff. Little minus.

- And I’ll probably have to get up early because their offices are East of me, as in Europe & UK & East Coast US. Meh, that means I’m off work early too. Teeny minus.

- Um… I guess having a cap on the amount of money I can make is a minus. I’ll probably have to turn down my next lucrative Expert Witness opportunity or crazy cool project. Opportunity costs for any employment there, which is a possible future minus that may never occur.

Probably one of the scariest things that is both a plus and a minus is that I get to redefine my relationship to work. This is not a project, this is a role. I am not duty bound to the same things. This is an endurance race, a marathon not a sprint. This is a chance to enjoy the journey, and to make my own mistakes along the way.

When I think about it, I don’t really have anything to lose. If I’ve misjudged what will make me happy, or the organization decides I’m not fit we think I am, I can always go back to what I’ve been doing as if it never happened. I sincerely hope it never comes to that, but worst case, I’d be right back where I am now.

All in all, I’m all in. Yes it’s a big shift, and those are always a little scary.

Oh well, I should be used to that by now…

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