By working faithfully eight hours a day you may eventually get to be boss and work twelve hours a day. ~ Robert Frost
After 20 years in the military and 20 years at Microsoft, I now work in South Lake Union in Seattle. I did not see my layoff coming; I suppose there are those who said the writing was on the wall. All I know for sure is that the person who is doing one part of what I was doing for the company is young and cheap. And it didn’t hurt that I left a strong external (read not paid) team of experts to help manage the community my team worked within.
A great company called Amazon picked me up in January. I have some key lessons to share with my friends, family, and other 50+-year old folk. Here’s a picture of the building where my team works. We’re on the ninth floor.
Picture from the Seattle Times.
1. Network: I found my job through a friend. 50+ resumes a month to companies with jobs I thought I might be perfect for didn’t generate any interest. I was in a conversation on Facebook and heard from a friend that they had an opening. This friend at Amazon knew me, went to her boss and said, we have to get this guy. *That* is how I got my job. Network! You never know where your next job will come from. But in a state with 8.2% unemployment, it took me three months to find my current position.
2. Be flexible: Most of us can work many kinds of jobs. I accepted a job where 90% of the tools and platforms are new to me. I’m no longer the tools expert. I am working on a service platform that I have to learn from the ground up; it’s not easy.
3. Work Hard: Be the hardest worker on the floor. Make it obvious you are glad to be there. Smile, network, create new friends and alliances. You don’t want to be the one voted off the island. Be the first one in every morning. Don’t be the first one out every day.
4. Work Smart: Just being a hard worker has never been enough; you have to work smart. Fix things in a gentle and complete manner. Establish systems that allow you team to excel. Figure out who the smart people are and learn from then. Establish a mentor relationship with a manager higher up in the food chain than you are. Don’t let someone else pick your mentor. Own the mentor/protégé experience so that you provide a win:win situation for your mentor.
5. Mix Things Up: For example, I started commuting. I used to love to commute in college. I use a 10-speed bike, scooter, or car to get to the Park & Ride. I sit on the bus for a half hour in the morning reading my news and catching up on email on my iPad (with 3G of course). I walk 5 blocks from where the bus lets me off to get to my office. At the end of the day I walk three blocks to pick up the bus, ride an hour on the bus that seems like five minutes because I’m on my iPad again, and then ride home. Month savings in gas, bus fee (Amazon pays for this), and parking fees is around $600+.
Instead of buying lunch, like I did at my last job, I take left overs 4 to 5 times a week. When I go out, I make a point to invite someone to get to know them better. Everyday I bring in a soda or other beverage and I make use of the free coffee. Savings per month: $250+.
There is no one solution for any of us; there are many great jobs to pick from. Some of our success is about luck. Some of it is about timing. But whatever you run into, you get to decide how to make it work for you. Maybe you’ll find something of value in what I’ve shared here. Be well my friends.