End of the Line: Part II

The term was invented by Shakespeare in his tragedy Hamlet. To be ‘cruel to be kind’ is to cause someone pain for his or her own good. Telling someone something that will hurt them because it’s better for them in the long run. It appears like you’re trying to hurt them when in fact, you’re looking out for their best interest.

Bravo, Rollo!

Way to handicap your guy right out of the gate

And then came the first stand-up meeting

I walked into an REI once to buy a new travel bag for an overseas trip. They had this Timbuk2 messenger that was just shy of perfect. I took one look at the water-bottle holder and knew that the average bottle would easily slip out.

I bought the bag because I loved it and it was the best I could find at the time.

Who knows how many bottles I’ve lost since.

These people live and breathe the design around these bags — and yet someone walks in off the street who instantly knew what a team of experts of didn’t.

So we do the rounds of introduction with the project manager. Seems like a nice fella and I was eager to learn all I could from him. My radar is always on the lookout for learning opportunities — expert or amateur, makes no difference to me.

Rollo lives a life of limits — and that’s his prerogative. But when you believe that you are something you are not, and place limits on others in doing so — you have robbed them of the spirit that you see in yourself that is not real.

Mine is

What you did on your jockeying over JIRA was disgraceful.

If only as a favor for my tireless devotion — you’d think that you’d allow me to be involved with the project manager’s JIRA solution.

But no, you and your goddamn greed had to have it your way — again.

And you were basing your “strategy” on, what — your record of rock-star decision-making?

Maybe, just maybe — you should have paused long enough for a second thought to seep into your immovable mind. Perhaps there were other considerations outside your calcified conclusions.

And that in doing so, the sacrifice you might have had to make is that you get 99% of what you want — and I get 1. That’s probably all I needed.

Negative — Rollo wants it all

You threw away one of the best resources that Elara will ever have — all over 1%.

It’s impossible for you to imagine how asinine your I-beam steel stubbornness is in my eyes.

Had you just done the opposite of what you always do — we all win.

Back to that in a bit . . .

20 years ago I was on a yearlong contract at First Union. As a side part of my job, I was helping out a project manager on an Access database (my bread & butter back in those days). He submitted what was a good portion of my work. Nothing underhanded about it — database development was not his field and he needed some help.

I didn’t care who got the credit. And besides, I learned a lot working with his database — including some things that he did that I didn’t know.

By the way, though I moved on to bigger and better things with SQL Server and Oracle a few years later — unlike the arrogance in this industry that looks down on Access, I don’t. It’s a tool — and like any other tool, it can be used wisely or otherwise.

I owe my career to Microsoft Access — and a bunch of people from those days.

You think you’ve got some insight into my “history” because of some signs on a sidewalk?

Try this “trend” on for size: 10 times in total at Bank of America for a cumulative 7 years. The fact that it’s almost all contracting bolters the point.

It’s not easy having to prove yourself over and over again — and just when you’ve started to really gel with a group, it’s over. But I have a long history at Bank of America — twice in CRM Services, over 3 years with Business Capital (including an integral role in the Fleet merger), and tack on another 3 years in other groups. Eleven years in total between the banks.

I got that phenomenal job in Business Capital because of a colleague I worked with in CRM Services. That guy got promoted to project manager and he had a vision — and only one person in mind to fulfill it.

guess I must have done something right

When I set out to solve an inventory-control problem at CTR in 1996, I was just in-between jobs and doing some IT stuff for my dad — who was the manager of the cryogenic trailers dept. there. I had no intention of moving out of the manufacturing/process engineering world — it was just a part-time job and a great opportunity. Got to spend some time with my parents in South Carolina, do some cool stuff to help him out at work, and pick up a few extra bucks.

And then I identified a problem that was just begging to be fixed.

So I just started messing around with Access since I thought it could do the trick. I’d go in on weekends to tool around so I could train myself to develop the solution I envisioned. Not once did it cross my mind as a career path. I wasn’t doing it for money or as an avenue for full-time work . . .

It was just fun, I wanted to see what was possible, and I couldn’t allow such a glaring problem to go on.

Sound familiar?

The owner and CEO took notice and offered me a full-time job to continue my work and some other things.

Went back to my office (first and last time I ever had one) — and spent the next 6 months figuring out how to what I said I could do.

I delivered

Fast forward a year and Access opportunities were aplenty — so I’m thinkin’ that looks a lot better than going back to my old life (though I still love industrial environments).

Good ol’ Amada & Flow

That particle-board piece on the wall was cut on a water jet just like the one in the picture. It was a sample run for the CD wheel I invented below. I gave it to my grandmother to put on the wall, but she had a better idea: To have some smoked glass cut to turn it into a table.


THAT is the beauty and brilliance in true collaboration.

Rollo doesn’t understand that way.

He acts like this new project manager has some fountain of wisdom we should all drink from on JIRA — as if we have nothing to offer simply by virtue of not having the vast experience of the guy he hired.

What did I say about those water bottles again?

I seriously doubt the project manager feels that way, but he’s following Rollo’s “lead” — just the way he likes it.

That’s not a knock against the PM — this is just about the guy “in charge” in all his glory.

People who solve problems for a living are not necessarily problem solvers at heart. For the former, their environment drives their thinking. For the latter, problem solving is a way of life. I’m out of a job with reputation tarnished (again) — because I identified a problem that human nature goes out of its way not to solve.

Different company, different people, different circumstances — same story . . .

Over and over and over again

The likes of Rollo and Head Honcho do not burden themselves to reconcile their words with their record. And then someone like me comes along and essentially says,

Wait a minute — you’re not acting in accordance with your claims and what this company is about.

And then they come up with more excuses to absolve themselves. So you hire a problem solver at heart — but like most “problem solvers” on the job, you see yourselves as something you are not. Instead of looking at a problem purely on the merits, and objectively examining it for the best options — your “problem solving” is predetermined . . .

By an atmosphere contaminated for so long that you don’t remember what conviction, clarity, honesty, and integrity look like.

A lot like this one

There’s a classic scene in Seinfeld that delightfully illustrates the divide between declarations of virtue and delivering on them:

So when called into question — instead of being inspired by someone who has the guts to challenge you — to make you better (and elevate the company’s capabilities in the process), you fabricate ways to reject reality. . .

Preserving the perception of yourselves at all costs.

You suffocated your problem solver at heart on multiple fronts (not to mention the wildly out of whack support for the business). Then you had the temerity to fuss over my “tone” toward your appalling leadership and performance — firing me with ease, as if you were aboveboard all along.


First job out of college, I was a Process Engineer for Hendrickson Stamping. They had a long row of unstacked bins along a wall — many of them storing very few parts. Seemed like quite a waste of space, but even if space was not a big concern — it just bugged me. I saw a stack of scrap plate steel one day and an idea hit me:

To design a divider in AutoCad and use the Amada Turret Press/Plasma Cutter to cut them out. The divider had a handle designed into it along with hooks to hang onto the bins.

That way you could mix up different parts in the same bin and keep them separated with the dividers. I’ll never forget the look on my manager’s face and what he said when he saw them being used and saving space.


You’ve really gotta be thinking outside the box to come up with something like that. To not harness that spirit, thirst, and lifelong record of problem solving in ways that no one else would have thought of — you’ve got a serious malfunction in your attitude.

Again, “the boss” can do whatever he wants — but is that a good idea?

“What you don’t understand” — coupled with Rollo’s rolodex of excuses, is not an argument. That is not the mark of someone listening and thinking things through.

Without clicking any further in the slideshow below — just the first image alone sounds serious-minded, doesn’t it. And since the people sitting there are world-renowned for their expertise on the subject, that’s undoubtedly going to be an intelligent conversation.

In the 11-second clip below, David Albright (a physicist) is talking about the guy who adamantly refused listen to these guys (or any of the experts). Now how do you think he got away with it on a matter of world-altering importance?

There’s always a Head Honcho somewhere who’s got his “reasons”

The maddening frustration that Albright is describing — is how I felt when talking to Rollo on Death-Knell, and anyone with an anything-goes approach to promoting beliefs that have zero basis in reality.

I solved that problem though. Now I don’t waste my time on anyone unworthy of it — including great jobs that require me to put up with people who are major barriers to progress — and our pampered for it to boot.

No matter how “calm” and “polite” your dismissiveness and deflection may be, those are not the traits of a professional or serious-minded person of any kind.

Our culture has normalized that behavior. I never got on board – and I never will.

This guy below looks pretty serious-minded too, don’t ya think?

Percentage of people peddling “everybody believed Iraq had WMD” who couldn’t write a sound argument on the subject to save their lives:

When I interviewed Professor Houston Wood (the guy talking to Zippe) — I was more prepared than anything I had ever done in my life. I had been corresponding with him for a while (and exchanged a few emails with Albright and had ongoing correspondence with Greg Thielmann as well).

These guys are the gold standard of professionalism and commitment to craft.

So I drove up to the University of Virginia to meet with Wood — and on my iPad, I was packin’ pictures and structured inquiry like nothing you’ve ever seen. I’d never done any journalism, but I was striving for the best of what it’s supposed to be.

My Prime Directive was twofold:

No leading questions

And if this man wants to talk — scrap the script and keep my mouth shut.

Because of that — I obtained information that nobody else did.

Before my documentary — I hadn’t done a single YouTube video and haven’t done one since. To do something so outside the realm of your existence was a spectacular experience — life-altering on multiple fronts.

I wrote the Trillion Dollar Tube animation, but without my videographer, Shane Killian — there’s no magic. I told him the concept I had in mind for that video — and he blew my mind as he instantly took my idea and brought it to life in ways I never could have. On the phone and inside of 60 seconds — he came up with the animation concept in that clip.

You can’t put a price on seeing your vision realized in ways you never could have done on your own.

Recognize the trend?

My brother reminds me of Rollo in some was — as he’s always has got some pearls of wisdom to share, but is conveniently too busy to take on real wisdom from others. So I’m on the phone with him several years ago — and when he found out about my documentary, on the fly he takes a look-see. 60 seconds into the Prologue, my first mock interview comes across with some unintended emotion.

In a 7-part documentary totaling 2 hours and 40 minutes, he seized on 10 seconds (one minute after it started) — so he could lecture me about “emotion.”

Those mock interviews were filmed after a very long day of shooting. It’s a massive undertaking to pull this off in one day (especially for amateurs). My actors were worn out and not expecting it to go this long. I was on the verge of losing a couple of them (some were friends and others I hired).

My friend playing the Tamara Holder character — saved me . . .


She ordered up some food from the hotel and we all took a break (and I paid extra to those who wanted to go) — and things settled down enough to finish it off.

So the “emotion” you see at the start, was filmed at the end — with night wearing on and me under enormous stress in light of almost losing my cast. So as with Rollo, you can’t imagine how laughable it is to me — that I do a documentary that illustrates how emotion runs roughshod over reason, and somebody’s gonna try to lecture me 60 seconds into it.

All the more absurd — is that the character I was playing in that scene, sells emotion for a living.

Nevertheless, what my brother said is still true — and I welcome any valid criticism of any kind. But why do people feel this insatiable need to say something before they absorb something?

If you see the other mock interviews, you see me much calmer — because I was getting into my rhythm and had settled down after my friend turned back a mutiny. That seems like important information to take into account when weighing my performance, don’t ya think?

If my brother or a friend did a documentary (especially involving a world-altering topic) — I’d watch it before I had something to say about it. At least few minutes, anyway — and not lickety-split-like on the phone.

I’m old-fashioned that way

These are not courteous times we live in — and as you can see, I have something to say about that.

And I’ve been saying it for decades.

On a lighter note, one of my actors can do Arnold Schwarzenegger impressions better than anyone I’ve ever seen. He had us rolling — and I so wish we would have gotten that on film for outtakes.

Itzik Ben-Gan — probably the best SQL programmer on the planet.

Exactly zero ego in the elevation of others

We will cut the wheel down the middle

You’d think that something that could cut through solid steel that thick would cut through wood just fine.

I made that monumental mistake — and manufacturing engineers much smarter and more experienced did too.

I swear, the stuff I’ve gotten away with on my government work. I’ve always had people take an interest in helping me out — owners, managers, tech guys, engineers, teachers, schools, NAPA paint experts — the list just goes on and on from a lifetime of exploration and discovery.

And get this, I no longer even worked at Hendrickson — and they still let the Water-Jet tech cut the test block for me. I just find that absolutely incredible — the open spirit of so many that merged with mine.

Without all of those people, I would not have these successes to share. Small or large, they played an important role — and it’s always more fun and enlightening that way.

Every success I have was in service of the best idea — no matter whose it was.

For all those who mattered more than they’ll ever know in Runnin’ Down a Dream

Particle-board sample was nothing (like cutting butter) — just a trial run on the design (which I altered for structural-integrity reasons — so the test was incredibly beneficial).

Bouncing between South Carolina, Illinois, Indiana, and Michigan to build this thing — I did something I never would have done without such constraints: I glued up the blocks before I was able to get the 5 in. thick sample block tested.

It failed — miserably!

I was totally screwed — until it hit me

The Working Man’s MacGyver

Now this guy, talk about ideas — my dad’s ingenuity is off the charts.

I’ve never seen anyone who could do more things in more areas — and accomplish them all with the same top-notch skill.

It’s rare that parents play such an integral role throughout your entire life — where your ongoing journey is so directly connected to theirs along with their involvement in your pursuits.

That would be a big deal if you only had one that way. I’ve got two.

One of my favorite things about crisscrossing the country for a few years before landing at Elara — is how my mom was always running ops out of CENTCOM as my co-pilot — providing intel on hotels down the road, and what apartment might be best at the end of it.

While she hasn’t been involved on this project, she’s had her hand in most others that involved editing and design work.

You wouldn’t believe the amount of time we spent on that documentary postcard — well, at this point you probably would. ;o)

The bottom line is — whatever I’m up to, if she touches it — it’s invariably better!

Sometimes it comes in the form of a flat-out change — and other times it’s a collaborative process where we shape the result together (and have fun every step of the way).

I’ve always been lucky that way — with my long line of immeasurable influences illuminating my path.

Don’t you love it when there’s welding in the background in movies? There’s nothing that emits activity like the light given off from that glow. I’ve said for a long time that there should be an Oscar for moments — and this one would most certainly be worthy of such an award.

If you haven’t guessed what’s going on already, Mr. MacGyver here came up with a brilliant idea that solved my planer problem. I still hadn’t found a planer wide enough, so he came up this aluminum-guide mechanism where I would use a regular router to plane the panels.

Most people probably won’t care about all this process stuff, and that’s fine — but this jig was a work of art in my book.

How could I resist?

This is the problem I solved the day Hendrickson had me back for some consulting on an Excel tool I had developed for the maintenance dept. I was driving away and it hit me that I could cut the blocks in half and pin them back together again.

This is one of my favorite things about problem solving — how the exploration of a secondary pursuit can end up being the solution to your primary one. This is what changing the dynamics of your thinking is all about — to frame a problem in a different dimension, to the point of not only solving it, but also taking your vision to a whole other level.

Warp Factor 1

But I made a big blunder — with a blessing in disguise waiting in the wings.

There was a perfect spot for the panels to be put out of the way at my grandmother’s — and for all my experience, I made a rookie mistake. I put them between a dresser and a wall and they were just as snug as can be.

Dumb move

I didn’t know that I wouldn’t be back for a couple of months — and I was horrified when I returned to find that they had warped a bit. It wasn’t a lot, but in something like this, there’s no margin for any.

While I was upset at myself for what I had done, I knew it was a solvable problem given that the warping wasn’t severe — but the straightening would have to be done very, very carefully and with a great deal of patience.

Had it not been for that cozy spot that was seemingly made for them, I would have put them flat under the bed where they belonged. So here ya go — classic case of where even someone with tons of experience (and knows better than to do this), sees something convenient and doesn’t think it through.

Wars have begun that way

In light of how well it worked out — I’m thrilled that I screwed up in placing those panels against the wall. For me, this clamping mechanism he rigged up is another work of art. For how I see the world, this is as beautiful as the end result.

The joy of obstacles jamming you into a fix — in more than ways than one, is heavenly in my way of life.

I thought of everything in this design on that day at Hendrickson — except for how to easily get the blocks out once the panels were glued up. Dad’s idea to put those screws in them was just brilliant — beauty in simplicity at its best.

My God, the life of intelligence and ingenuity I’ve been around. Wouldn’t trade those experiences and inspiration for anything on Earth.

I love the internals of things

It always amuses me when I hear people brush off the the importance of certifications — as if they’re just some bullet point on a resume. I’m working on my 4th and I’m running out of time (as Microsoft is retiring the program to push their “role-based training). A lot of people unhappy about that — and I’m one of ’em.

Gotta get it in gear the very minute I’m done doling out justice.

I don’t do things just to pass a test and boost my resume with buzzwords. If I knew that I could pass it right now — I wouldn’t take it, because its purpose is a conduit to the knowledge. The exam is not gonna have questions about the binary breakdown of how a record is stored in SQL Server — but I love to understand how things work under the hood.

And the more I know about that, the better I can do my job.

I came across an article on the item above and noticed something wrong. What I do that’s different than most — is that I start from the position that maybe I’m just missing something. I wasn’t.

Does this strike you as social-media’s SOP for correcting someone?

I love being tapped into the cream-of-the-crop community of experts in a club I’ll never be qualified to join. I’m fine with that — I’m just happy to have this bottomless treasure chest of resources that I have compiled over the years . . .

Much of which came from my pursuit of certifications.

The guy I referenced in that Tweet — Paul Randal (along with his wife Kimberly Tripp) — are world-renowned for their knowledge on internals. Kimberly’s training videos on Pluralsight are by far the best I’ve ever seen on the subject.

So what are really talking about here?

Knowing what’s available to you

Rollo’s a really smart guy — and I imagine he spent most of his life figuring things out on his own. I wouldn’t have this career without mentors and tutors — along with my unquenchable thirst to learn from anyone I could. I don’t care if everyone knows that. I’m very good at what I do — but I worked my ass off to acquire those skills, and I needed help along the way. Still do.

I am combing through tons of material to accomplish my goals. And because of continually honing my skills in pursuit of those certifications (including improving my study skills, organizational skills, and test-taking ability) — I know that I can accomplish everything I set out to do in my field.

It takes me a while — but from a lifetime of such devotion comes confidence and humility.

One night last year Rollo was struggling with a report he couldn’t get to work. I had done this kind of thing before, but it had been a while. The smart move as a manager was to just let it go and let me do it. It doesn’t mean anything that I knew how to do it and he didn’t — because the next day, the roles could be reversed. This goes on all the time.

Of all people, I understand the feeling of having to figure something out — and the satisfaction you get from it.

But if you’re a gonna be a manager/developer — it’s all the more critical that you learn to let go with ease. You have to be willing to make that choice, and if you’re not — you have no business being in such a role.

We were on the phone twice as long as it took me to solve it after we concluded the call. So instead of wisely using our time, Rollo was spinning his wheels on something totally unnecessary — all because his pride was so fixated on being satisfied.

Worse than that — is that it becomes habit. To be sure, he asked for my help (and others) from time to time. But considering the sheer volume of work he was doing (and the hours he put it) — it was nowhere near the level of delegating that it should have been.

I offered to help when he was repeatedly falling behind on End Run’s project — and not once did he accept, nor did he ever ask for it. That’s not the mark of a manager — and it’s irresponsible to boot.

Bulldozing your way through work will only take you so far — and by never looking up, you don’t realize the mess you’re making — and how to best utilize your resources to turn things around.

So if I go that deep to understand what’s under the hood in how databases run, imagine how maddening it is for me to watch a company not even bother to scratch the surface on issues staring them right in the face.

I don’t care who you are or what you do — if you ignore the most obvious problems within your purview, that is gross negligence at minimum — and you are unworthy of your position.

This is the type of problem solver that you threw away to satisfy someone who creates far more problems than he solves (in the magnitude of their impact, anyway):

How many resumes in the world have a line like this on them?

I’d like to work for a company that keeps its word.

My bet: 1

If I saw that on a resume — my first thought would be:

This guy’s not [$#^@#^#$6] around

My second: I wanna know where THAT came from. There’s a story in those 11 words and I’d want to hear all about it.

I want to be part of a team of developers who deeply care about their craft, and are continually honing it. I want to work for managers who inspire everyone around them to be better.

This guy’s trying awfully hard to tell us something. We better be damn sure that he’s right for us — and that we’re right for him.


The medallion on the left is my dad’s from a welding course he took at Purdue — and the one on the right was molded in the same shop nearly 15 years later in my Industrial Technology class.

Like all of my treasured trinkets, I made sure to hold on to his medallion he gave me, but I never imagined I would make one of my own. I like his better.

The “full circle” theme originated from the table top you see below — which is the table he made in high school. It hadn’t been used in ages and he had the fantastic idea to have it cut into the CD pattern for a wall ornament. It broke out in the center — but that was a blessing in disguise, because my mom had the lovely idea to use it for displaying knickknacks depending on the season.

I LOVED that idea!

Speaking of breakage — somebody foolishly stepped on the panel and it broke on a seam. That would me!

Glued it back together and all was well. I took this that picture with the table lined up with the wheel with this theme in mind.

They like to say, “Uptown.” I don’t . . .

So I say

So in 1998, I was off to my new career in IT — downtown and excited as can be.

then I realized how little I knew

And she saved me . . . an Unknown Legend for the ages

I’ve had many life-altering moments — but this is the only one where I know the exact day — the date on the document below (2/12/98).

I asked a colleague sitting across from me:

Is there anyone around here who has some experience with installation issues?

He replied, “Yeah, there’s a girl upstairs who’s really good and her name is Yun.” I gave her a call and can I still see her getting off the elevator with this document in hand. And my God, is she ever smart (MD with a PhD in Pharmacology), but decided she liked IT better.

And once again — as ego-free as it gets.

The greats never see themselves as magnificent as they are — no matter how many times you tell ’em.

Above my head next floor to be
Saint from Heaven she came to me

That’s the Math Building at Purdue University. It’s a like a wind tunnel through there, so when it was really blowin’, you’d occasionally see students with sheets tied to their hands and ankles to see how far it could carry them.

I wasn’t that bold — but was I brave enough to seek out assistance from the math tutors in that building. Seven in all (including 5 calculus — 3 engineering-based and 2 business). I had one teacher from Singapore who required that we practically write a paragraph on each answer.

I love the demands of specificity

I plowed through or circumvented any obstacle in the way of my goals.

I had one teacher I could barely understand but I had waited too long to switch out. Word on the street was that there was this calculus rock star, but he was always booked solid. I ignored that little detail. I went to talk to him and did the ol’ “I’ll sit on the floor” bit, but there was nothing he could do without official approval.

But he told me the steps for how to go about it — which included getting a signature from the dean of the Math Dept.

I can still see myself sitting on the floor outside his office — all signatures obtained but one.

I got an “A”

I even went out my way once to turn in my homework while having an appendicitis attack (I didn’t know what it was at the time). It’s a long story — which includes having another attack at the top of the Sears Tower.

In light of what I’ve embraced in face of adversity — and my unquenchable thirst to learn from anyone who can teach or enlighten me:

I see your comfort-craving crap as a plague that poisons endless possibilities.

And sanctioning it all with ease are the Head Honchos — mealy-mouthed managers walkin’ around like they’re senators from Krypton.

Okay, I stole that last part . . .

Yes, and how many times can a man turn his head
And pretend that he just doesn’t see
The answer, my friend, is blowing in the wind
The answer is blowing in the wind

President Bollinger . . . described intellectual inquiry thus: “To learn to ask: ‘Is that true? Maybe there’s something to what she just said. Let me think about it. That’s interesting. Maybe I should change my mind. I changed my mind.’”

When is the last time you can honestly remember a public dialogue — or even a private conversation — that followed that useful course?

To qualify as arguing your views in good faith — at the bare minimum, there must some trace of taking into account what the other person is saying.

The idea is that I say something, then you get your turn, but that you actually consider what I said before you fire off your reply — and that your response indicates that to some degree.

Then I do the same for you — and this give-and-take exchange goes back and forth in an imperfect manner until an understanding is hashed out. Of all the great principles that foster fruitful conversation, this one is paramount:

You Improvise, You Overcome, You Adapt

I adapt to you and you adapt to me . . .

And somewhere in the middle or on the way to it, maybe we come to a meeting of the minds. Even after all that, you still have the option to totally disagree with your interlocutor, but at least you’ve heard them out with some sincerity.

There’s no finer example of “I adapt to you and you adapt to me” than these classic scenes from the all-time “Everyman” master.

The coach is coming from a different place — and his attitude from the start was:

I don’t have ballplayers, I’ve got girls!

But little by little, he came around — and once he saw them as ballplayers, he treated them as such.

And that’s what this first scene is all about:

But in the second scene, as much as he’d like to treat them the same as any player, he adapts to find some way of communicating his concerns without being too harsh.

You’re still missing the cutoff man. Now that’s . . . . that’s something I’d like you to work on . . . before next season.

And whad’ya know, she responds in kind! She recognizes that he’s trying really hard to get something important through to her, and that he’s adjusting his approach from last time — and she appreciates that.

Alas, this country is so far gone that even “this is something I’d like you to work on” is risky with the fragile.

And I would know

America’s culture of coddling flies in the face of the entire history of human achievement.

Back in the day, she thanked Mr. Dugan for his instructive message, but now it would be:

The look on his face, his eyes, his hands shaking in my space  I felt attacked!


The ultimate indignity, however, is when people insist that I’ve called myself an empty image, that I’ve proclaimed it, simply because I spoke the line in a commercial. They treat this ridiculous throwaway slogan as if it’s my Confession, which makes as much sense as arresting Marlon Brando for murder because of a line he uttered in The Godfather.

Unknown Legend#1 and I were just talking about this book a few weeks ago. Turns out she plays tennis every weekend, so I asked her if she had read this and much to my delight, she had.

I love bonding moments like that — when you discover something special about your colleague outside of work.

I love the rawness of that book cover and how deliberate it is for what’s inside. Rollo could learn a lot from Agassi’s story — and the invaluable opportunity that tearing down an image affords you. Unlike Agassi’s case, Rollo’s is about self-image — which I find so futile because nobody believes it but him. Agassi had it made — marketing sold it and people bought it.

He never wanted that.

But image is everything to Rollo

Why on Earth would a company surrender its soul for someone who repeatedly behaves in a way that is not even remotely in the best interests of Elara?

Don’t ya think you’d be better off with this mindset?

If you come here, you are going to need to want to be pushed, to be challenged, to work. If you are here to collect a paycheck, or to show up, don’t come.

— Ric Elias, CEO of Red Ventures

I thought this scene from Jerry Maguire was brilliant for capturing the level of concern for what’s right — even when it could not be more clear. Everyone just goes right back to work — and after the initial shock of “what happened to Rick?” — that’s undoubtedly what happened at Elara too. And after this site initially gets around a bit, it will happen again.

And the lie lives on

What sums up the sincerity of what Rollo offered on Death Knell

Peck would have had a field day with Rollo:

— We have extensively examined the ways in which evil individuals will flee self-examination and guilt by blaming and attempting to destroy whatever or whoever highlights their deficiencies

–The uncanny game of hide and seek in the obscurity of the soul, in which it, the single human soul, evades itself, avoids itself, hides from itself.

–The blindness of the narcissist to others can extend even beyond a lack of empathy; narcissists may not “see” others at all.

–It is not their sins per se that characterize evil people, rather it is the subtlety and persistence and consistency of their sins. This is because the central defect of the evil is not the sin but the refusal to acknowledge it.

–Actually, the lie is designed not so much to deceive others as to deceive themselves. They cannot or will not tolerate the pain of self-reproach. The decorum with which they lead their lives is maintained as a mirror in which they can see themselves reflected righteously.

— The evil hate the light—the light of goodness that shows them up, the light of scrutiny that exposes them, the light of truth that penetrates their deception.

If you wanna gauge someone’s commitment to doing right by their fellow man, ask ’em how many times they didn’t.

The first meeting with the new project manager was not an official standup — but an intro of things to come. I was concerned with how I would be able to run through my updates in a structured and timely fashion.

It should say something to you that I was thinking of such things in the first place.

While everyone else had valid concerns about how we could possibly manage all those updates in 15 minutes, I was already thinking about how to solve this problem.

Then again — I’d been thinking about it since June when I got my JIRA account.

Having a report at the ready was always part of my plan — even for the marathon meetings. I felt they that were getting way out of hand a long time ago — as endless freedom to talk is not conducive to discipline.

First time I ever worked in a shop with a rigid-release policy, it was a bit daunting in the beginning. We had to hand over our scripts to the DBAs, and that’s not a good feeling when they come back to you.

But I loved the challenge

Since it was all new to me, I was getting dinged a good bit early on.

At first I was the worst | Then I became the best

So I’m a big fan of being held to something — which goes right back to using a stopwatch in the first official standup. I don’t think Elara has the slightest clue as to how time and money has been wasted by simply providing a setting of excessive freedom.

Including Rollo’s infinite faith in his first thoughts.

I knew he would screw me on JIRA — I just knew it, and ol’ Head Honcho was worthless on this front. So once again, I had to sneak in my suggestions. I brought up to the idea of the cross-project reporting extension that I recently installed, as a way of having our updates readily available for each meeting at the click of a button.

I was shot down in a second — like all the times before.

We don’t want 50 million projects

There is no measure for your depths of thoughtlessness and unprofessionalism.

Unlike Rollo, when he brought up Epics in JIRA — I kept an open mind.

Contrary to convenient opinion, this isn’t about Projects vs Epics, it’s about professional courtesy and careful consideration.

Rollo defended his decision to keep me out of the JIRA process because he didn’t want anyone influencing the project manager’s direction. He didn’t mind tossing in that “you’ve only been doing JIRA for a few months.”

What was I thinking? I couldn’t possibly have anything to offer after going to great lengths to set up my own system and solve a problem in a way that few people would have thought of.

Where did you find this guy?

You wouldn’t hire a consultant to build a database — and just tell him: “I don’t want to influence your approach, so just do whatever you think is best and show us what you come up with.”

Your “thinking” on this goes against the grain of everything we do. Well, maybe not you. After all, the way you treated some of our customers was slack at best. Oh, I don’t understand — you were too busy? I expect a manager to have the skills and self-awareness to recognize that if their workload is hurting the company, that they would adjust accordingly.

But you never did – and everybody but you paid the price for it.

Until now

I told you on Death Knell that you were out of your league on making arguments — and now you know.

On second thought, knowing you — you probably don’t.

Ed Exley: Rollo Tomassi

Dudley Smith: Who is he?

Ed Exley: You are. You’re the guy who gets away with it

Mark my words, Rollo & Head Honcho — I’m gonna use you two as a model for all future employment, explicitly spelling out that I want nothing to do people with like THAT.

Never again will I put my faith in a company that doesn’t earn it from the get-go. With the kind of questions I have in mind, only the worthy will want to talk to me.

Whatever road you took to become who you are, I never did and I never will. I’d rather wash dishes for the rest of my life than work for the likes of you. Shackled to safety cables at 18 years old — I felt the freedom to do my best and beyond. Rollo and the world that indulges him — sucked the life right out of that spirit.

You should be ashamed of yourselves — and if you had the capacity for shame, you would be.

First part of the note below was written weeks ago — so sharing it on a regular basis was always part of the plan. But your addition is a big bonus.