I got laid off today. While that’s not the best news in the world, at least I kept one other person from meeting the same fate.
It’s Edvard Munch’s The Scream. Or more specifically, a blow-up version of The Scream (or just Scream for short).
You see, Scream dates from one of my favorite jobs ever, that of Lastfoot. You might remember Lastfoot as being a Linux remote desktop company, before it merged with TreLOS to become Netraverse. Or you may not, which is most likely. Anyway, I worked with a lot of characters at Lastfoot, one of which was responsible for bringing in this four-foot-tall, inflatable rendering of The Scream.
Scream had a habit of appearing in different cubicles or bookshelves. You never knew where he would show up. Scream became representative of the kind of whimsical, wacky, creative environment we worked in. Any place with a Scream had to be cool.
I’ve worked at a handful of companies since that day years ago when Netraverse laid me off. Not one had seemed Scream-worthy until I got to my present (sorry, now former) employer. We had just moved into new office space less than two weeks ago and I almost made Scream my cube mate.
I saved Scream the horror of more layoffs.
As for me, I’ve seen it before, so its no shock to me. A bit comical, in a way. As I said in my last post, I’m becoming a bit of an old pro at these things. I know the drill. I don’t take it personally. That’s business.
I think it helps that was looking for a job earlier this year. I was just looking to do something new. I’d said the same demo script over and over for over four years and needed a break. I got a really generous job offer but ultimately turned it down because I didn’t want to leave my latest employer. I felt that if I left, the whole crew might unravel and that would be the end of things. Instead, I was offered the product manager position, which was exciting and seemed to fit all my skills and experience. I wore that hat for three weeks before today, when the plug was pulled.
I also felt that a job at a company with a 20 year history would be more stable, especially since I seemed to be well-liked and my work respected.
I think it also helps that Kelly and I are in a much better position than we were the last time this happened. We’re not expecting a baby now, nor are we closing on a house – with little money to spare. Instead we have a nice cushion of cash to get us by (if need be), and lots of opportunities in a growing job market.
Yet another reason I’m in good shape is this blog. I’ve got quite an audience now that I never had before, with an average of over 350 visits a day. Kind people I’ve never met in person have already sent leads my way. I can’t tell you how much this means to me.
But I do feel bad for many reasons. I feel bad for those friends whom I talked into joining the company – selling them on the belief it was a stable job. I feel I’ve let them down. I also feel bad for the customers to whom I told I was optimistic about the future of this product with my company – that I liked the direction the company was taking it. It was all true, at the time, at least. But now I just feel like an idiot. I can practically hear our old partners – those who were burned by the first company going out of business – laughing and saying “I told you so.”
I’m disappointed the company didn’t have enough faith to allow this product to succeed. I’ve always believed it to be a fantastic product – otherwise I wouldn’t have worked as hard as I did for four years. To the company, though, I felt it was always a distraction from its main business – a business some have said it succeeded in in spite of itself. My product had the red-headed stepchild status of being a software product in a primarily-hardware company. I don’t think it was really understood by those whose fiefdoms had been established long before.
Yet, while I could nitpick about many decisions that were made, and bitch and moan about my current predicament, I have to be thankful for the opportunity I was given to be a part of this team, and to bring life back to this great product, if only for a little while. This company took me to Australia, Holland, and China. I got to do some interesting things.
I got to love my work, and that is a very special thing. I’ve always said I wouldn’t take a job just for the paycheck, and that certainly hasn’t been the case with this one. I loved my job.
So what now? Who knows. It will be tough to top this last job, but I’m still going to try! I’m thinking I’ll pursue opportunities which may lead me back to product management; if not now then in the future. I’ve had a taste of that and I decided I like it.
In life, one door may close but others always open. The world is my oyster! Carpe diem and all that. I don’t know what awaits me, but I know it will be good. With any luck, I’ll grow to love it, too.
Scream and I await our next home.