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Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-18-2004, 10:28 AM   #1
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Someday you just can't win...

Warning: this is a rant against management.

So last Friday at 4:30 PM I got called into my boss' office and there I saw one of my coworkers and 2 big bossess. They told me that they would like me to go on a business trip for a week, fixing one problem they had with their customer's hydro plant. First I resisted because it wasn't my project (it's my work motto: I will not clean up other people trash!). But after some discussion, I agreed to go (reluctantly) since the work that needed to be done was the kind of work I was capable to do. So I flew to site on Monday night (which was supposed to be Canadian thanksgiving).

Of course when I got on site I found the problem was regarding some other systems I know nothing about.

It was just awful. I was mad because my company deliberately (or not) sent the wrong person, or the management had miscommunication with the customer, etc, etc. The customers were mad because I (supposedly "the expert" they paid pretty money for) could not help them. It was a madhouse and I felt really, really stupid.

Of course I tried my best, poked around, called my coworker repeatedly for ideas (it was his da** project!!), read countless manuals.

But apparently I am not a superhuman who can learn about complex control system and troubleshoot it in 4 days. Of course the customers turned out to be the worst kind of people (they wanted me to fix their stuff but they wouldn't tell me how their stuff was set up - or maybe they had no clue).

Weird thing though on my last day there they asked me if I could stay longer to troubleshoot their system. I told them no. I told them that I would like to go home to request my boss to send someone else who is more knowledgeable about their system than me.

And this morning (my first day back) I marched into my boss' office and talked to her about 'sending the wrong person to site' (I kept my emotion pretty even but man, I was PO !!!).

Times like this I am so thankful that I had some savings in the bank so I am actually not worried about getting laid off (for questioning management about their decision). Times like this really convinced me that getting to FI asap is the right course for me because I just have no patience dealing with crap like this. (it turned out the management had no clue what kind of system the customer had and which employees are knowledgeable about which system).

Jane
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-18-2004, 10:57 AM   #2
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

Another reason to be self-employed until you ER. Why do people work for companies and do this to themselves? For the love of God, quit and start your own business. You sound like you have talent in what you do, so why waste it on someone else? Even if you have to work a little harder, at least you are doing it for yourself and not for your "boss."

I hate the term "my boss" unless I'm the boss. How can people go through life with someone "bossing" them around 8 hours a day? One of my favorite movies is Cool Hand Luke. Luke was a true FIRE type of guy. He did everything to escape his "boss" and lived by my favorite state slogan "Live free or die."

My suggestion is that you print your post and put it somewhere you can read it so when you start your own business or ER, you can remind yourself how much worse working for someone is even on your worst self-employment or ER days (if you have any).
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-18-2004, 06:33 PM   #3
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

Quote:
Another reason to be self-employed until you ER. *Why do people work for companies and do this to themselves? *For the love of God, quit and start your own business. *You sound like you have talent in what you do, so why waste it on someone else? *Even if you have to work a little harder, at least you are doing it for yourself and not for your "boss."
Some of us cannot do what we do outside of a large organization too easily. If I went out on my own, it would be a looooong time to FIRE.
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-18-2004, 08:25 PM   #4
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

Quote:
Some of us cannot do what we do outside of a large organization too easily. *If I went out on my own, it would be a looooong time to FIRE.
I never said it was easy. As President Kennedy said, "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things not because they are easy but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills."

You would be surprised how well you would do if you started your own business if you are passionate about it. If you can only think of the thousands of reasons you should not be your own master, then chances are you will fail if you make a half-hearted attempt. But if you can think of only one reason to make it on your own and are persistant and determined, chances are you will succeed.

You only have one life to prove yourself to yourself. Don't make them call you Toby.
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-19-2004, 12:56 AM   #5
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

Hi Jane,

Yup, know what this is like. I'm a field engineer, so this stuff happens a lot to me. Good thing I have a good sense of humor !
On starting your own business, I love this idea, I just have no idea what to start. I would rather not start it in the area I work now (technology) and I can't figure out how to start a business that would be lucrative enough to support me in the other things I'm interested in. Having your own business is a great idea, figuring out what business to start seems to be the hardest part.
Suggestions ?

-Pan-
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-19-2004, 01:09 AM   #6
 
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

I never ran into Jane's problem much because A.
When I was young I thought I could solve about any problem all by myself. B. I never cared much if
"they" fired me or not, even when I had no money and
big debts, and C. Toward the end of my career, I was the top guy. That said, I suggest again that working for
yourself is a great idea, but I believe it is much easier
to buy an existing business and also that your chances of success are better. IMHO................

John Galt
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-19-2004, 05:30 AM   #7
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

I like what I am doing, just that sometimes, management doesn't make sense. They kept saying we had to provide good customer service, but does sending a wrong person to customer a good customer service strategy? Hardly.

My boss is actually quite a smart and reasonable woman (two of us are the only "official" female engineers in our dept) and she actually thinks I do a good job. But sometimes she got pressured by the bigger bosses (some who are completely clueless) and she had to abide by all these stupid decisions.

I still want to work in my field right now (plant control systems) and the only way to do it and still have my own business is to go into engineering consulting which is very difficult to set up in my opinion. There are so many regulations etc and fees you gotta pay. I am sure the reward is greater (financially) but the headache is much greater too. In Canada, if you are consulting engineer, your name/stamp will be all over the tech drawings, while if you are an employee, company name will be on the drawings with your initial. It's a big liability issue (and a costly insurance to cover).

Most of my family are business owners (convenience stores, coin laundry, gas stations, mechanic shop etc) and yes when I was younger I worked for my parents' business in my spare time and I learned that those kind of businesses were not for me. Yes, financially it is a bigger reward, and you are your own boss but I found the work is not stimulating enough. I used to calculate change in my head in a split second before I punch in the number into the cash register when I worked for my parents' convenience store because I needed something else to do. I like working with my hand, but I like working with my brain even more.

I don't know what other kind of personal business to get into. I am not very patient I think and often I can be very tactless (which is why I will not make a good sales person).

Oh well, I am going to try to reach my FI goals as soon as possible and hopefully still do a good job as an employee. Like I said, nothing like little debt and a healthy saving account to really put your mind at ease.

Jane
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-19-2004, 06:17 AM   #8
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

I've learned that people who ER do so because it is in their blood. Likewise, people who have what it takes to start their own business do it because it is in their blood. No matter what you say to them, they are more concerned with pleasing their "bosses" than pleasing themselves. I guess some people don't have enough intestinal fortitude to figure out how to get out of working 9 to 5 in a job they don't love as a semi-slave to someone they don't like.

Why limit yourself to what you do as an employee? There are thousands of different businesses you could start. There's someone on this board that loves snowboarding so he created a business for himself involving the snowboarding industry. A couple of kids in Massachusetts started making fruit juice in a blender and now they own a successful business http://www.juiceguys.com/tomandtom.php
A mom started making soap in her kitchen sink and turned it into a $10 million business http://www.powerhomebiz.com/vol135/soapworks.htm

It's possible. I have seen it being done by many people who are just average folks. Go to the library and read through Entrepeneur Magazine and start making a list of what you would enjoy doing. Think of products or services that you wish you had but can't find. Nobody is going to do this for you. You have to do it for yourself.

One of my favorite poems is one by Robert Frost:

ROAD LESS TRAVELED

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth

Then took the other as just as fair
And having perhaps the better claim
Because it was grassy and wanted wear
Though as for that, the passing there
Had worn them really about the same

And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet, knowing how way leads onto way
I doubted if I should ever come back

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood
And I took the one less traveled by
And that has made all the difference


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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-19-2004, 12:16 PM   #9
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

Part of my old job involved helping entrepreneurs set up small businesses. Intestinal fortitude was required, but there's a whole lot more to it than that. I saw a number of businesses succeed and many others fail. Failure was seldom due to a lack of grit and determination. There were a great many complex and inter-relating issues that came into play; things like adequate capitalization, quality and quantity of competition, and many other issues too numerous to mention.

Self-employment isn't for everyone. In my experience, only a small portion of the population is cut out for it. I have seen far too many people look to self-employment as a panacea, only to crash and burn despite heroic effort and the expenditure of a lifetime of savings. I wouldn't discourage someone from going this route, because the rewards can be great, but I would encourage caution and analysis, especially self-analysis. It's not an automatic slam dunk no matter how much determination one possesses. There is a downside to self-employment, and if you decide it's not for you, there's nothing wrong with working for someone else. Both are inherently noble pursuits.
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-19-2004, 01:02 PM   #10
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

At least for my temperament I think this working for yourself is oversold at least if you HAVE to work for yourself. I'm thinking of the Graucho Marx line: "I wouldn't be a member of any club that would have me as a member." Now there may be some truth that the ER personality is more attuned to working for themselves but I do not see any compelling reason for myself. I got a lot of travel and training with the Navy/government and I have had a few bad years 2 when I worked in the Navy and about 4 several years ago in civilian employment. If I could have left at those times I would have. Interesting thing is that on looking back those were times of real personal growth for me. Sort of like boot camp. Something you look back on fondly but would never do again.
I personally see being retirement eligible (next year!) as jerk proofing my work life. I now have a job I like and I will work at it a few more years as long as I continue to like it. Being ready and able to leave changes the dynamics. Having to work for myself would not be an improvement.
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-20-2004, 05:33 AM   #11
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

Yeah I like working in my field and like I said, founding a consulting engineering business takes a lot more than just determination and hard work. There are a lot of legal and insurance issues involved and I am just not wanting to get in the thick of it. Of course engineering is not the only thing I can do, but right now it is the only thing I want to do for living.

I figure you will have to deal with unreasonable people often in your working life, whether it is your boss you have to please, or customers whose business you are trying to get (working on your own or for a company). The only way out is to FI asap.

Anyway I talked to few bossess in the past 2 days about sending a wrong person to site and hopefully something will get through. Also I made a mental note that in the future before I agree on going to site, I would investigate the matter thoroughly and if I judge that I won't be any use to the customers I will refure to go.

Jane
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-20-2004, 07:54 AM   #12
 
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

I am a "natural" entreprenuer, but came to it late in life.
Being a "Type A", when I was younger I almost always had a side business of some sort going. In 1987 I was runinng (but did not own) a small manufacturing company in Michigan. I was fired (of course) and started doing financial consulting for other small companies. This quickly became full time work.
It was pretty easy to do, but remember, I had no investment of money up front. Luckily, I decided to buy
a small manufacturing company from a friend of mine,
and did so the same week that I lost my biggest
consulting client (serendipity?). Before I closed the deal
on my acquisition (which was 100% leveraged), my banker said he had spoken with a former employee
(of the company I was buying) and he said they were
in bad shape, business way down, losing money, etc.
But, I had done my homework and knew I could liquidate the company for less than I was paying,
which in fact I did, only 3 years later. Now, if you had the time, you could go around looking for deals like this.
I knew a guy who did nothing else and he made a pile
of money. It's a lot of work though. Anyway, you can't
do this with a start-up. Also, it's easier to borrow money to buy a going concern than get seed money for a new venture.

John Galt
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Re: Someday you just can't win...
Old 10-20-2004, 09:13 AM   #13
 
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Re: Someday you just can't win...

Oops! I meant to say that I knew I could liquidate
for "more" than I was paying. If I had done
otherwise I doubt I would be ERed, or even solvent
for that matter

John Galt
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