Posts Tagged ‘business’

How I Survived Bloody Wednesday

For the first time in my adult life, I find myself unemployed. Three weeks ago, I succumbed to the axe on August 28, 2013, which will forever be known as Bloody Wednesday in Sport Ngin folklore.

Throughout the past several years, as the economy declined, I really never feared for my job. I always thought, naively, that I was safe. That if there were going to be cutbacks, they would cut the slackers and underperformers first.

I was living in a fool’s paradise.

Bloody Wednesday was, without a doubt, the single worst day of my career and even one of the worst days of my life. The news of the layoff came from out of the blue and caught me completely off-guard. It was a gut-wrenching experience.

I absolutely loved working at Sport Ngin. In almost every way, it was my dream job. The perfect blend of two things I really love – design and sports. I had a tremendous amount of influence over the direction of the product. I built a team of user experience designers and we were doing some fantastically fun work, designing Sport Ngin’s next generation of tools to manage sports leagues, teams and tournaments. I had a blast designing two iPhone apps while I was there. I worked with some really smart people, worked for a great boss and made some good friends. I thought it would last MUCH longer than two years. I had mentally ripped up my resume and would have been content to work there the rest of my career.

One day, you’re having a blast designing a new sign in screen for the app, the next day you are sitting at home, locked out of your laptop and wondering, “why me?”

I dealt with a good measure of rejection and quite a few “no, I do NOT want this!” moments for a couple of days. Thanks to the unending support and encouragement from my awesome wife, I was able to get back on the proverbial horse and prepare for the next phase of my career. I still don’t know what that looks like, or even when that next phase will start, but my LinkedIn network has proven to be pretty valuable and I have several leads I am following, some definitely pretty promising.

In the meantime, as I proactively wait for the process to play itself out, I am learning a few things about life and about myself.

  • As painful as this is/was for me, it is nothing compared to the hardship and turmoil many others have to face on a daily basis.
  • Being mindful of the previous point, I have tried counting my blessings, but they are too many.
  • Even when you think you are in control, you are not. So don’t act like you are; instead give control to God and walk in His will.
  • Companies are in business for one reason and one reason only – to make money.
  • From now on, I will put much less stock in the “operating values” of any company.
  • I am thankful for the talents God has given me to earn a living and take care of my family doing something that I am not only good at, but something that I really love doing – not many people get to do that.

All the unexpected time I have now has really been a blessing in disguise. This all happened right before school started. So for the first three weeks of school, I’ve been able to say good-bye to the kids in the morning and be there when they get home, help them with homework and, in general, just spend more time with them. Being at home more during the day has also been a fun time for Cori and I to spend more time together. We’ve been able to eat lunch together almost every day, we have time to take walks together and have even gone on day dates while the kids are at school. And the weather has been perfect. A guy couldn’t have asked for a better time to have days off.

If you know of any great user experience design opportunities, feel free to send them my way. I am confident that this period of my career/life will be over soon. Until then, I’m enjoying what I get. And if what I get is more time with my family, then I have been given a wonderful gift.

Peace.
/cm

Rules

In her article for Inc., Margaret Heffernan speaks plainly about how flexible hours inspire productivity. I am totally on board with her take on this, but what struck me most was this bit on rules in general. Makes me wonder what the implications are for parenting, because she’s right — monitoring and enforcing rules is no fun.

“…I have always resisted rules, for myself and for others. Why? Because once you have rules, you have to enforce them—and there’s no more tedious task in life.”Margaret Heffernan

The Cost of Starting Up

This is always a fun conversation, isn't it? As always, Brad's comics are funny and on point.

User Experience Margin

How much is User Experience worth? Would you be willing to pay a bit more for a product if you also knew you’d get a better experience? I’ve had to answer these questions lately and based on personal experience, my answer is definitely yes.

A couple of weeks ago we had some new countertops and tile work installed in our kitchen. We worked with a local, family-owned remodeling company. Throughout the planning and selection phase, we had a great experience with them and were confident we chose the right company to do the job.

And then they started the work. Read the rest of this entry →

Why Front-end Developers Are So Important

Paul Carvill provides some clarification around the roles and skills sets of developers, designers and other front-end players and the importance of such to the future of businesses on the web.

Traversing the Bermuda Triangle

Good, fast and cheap. Any project that aims to satisfy all three is as doomed as an aluminum canoe in the middle of the Bermuda Triangle. Perhaps you’ve been involved in such a project. It can be frustrating, stressful, uncomfortable and downright painful.

So if you are ever dealing with a client that is asking you to do all three, point them to this graphic and ask them to choose which two aspects are most important to them. Then, point out what they get when they choose those two. Read the rest of this entry →

How I Manage My LinkedIn Network

The other day I received an invitation to join someone’s LinkedIn network. This was a person I worked with at a previous company a few years back. I declined the invitation because I didn’t really know the guy. He worked in a different department and I don’t even recall a one-on-one conversation we ever had. Read the rest of this entry →

I’m going on a trip and I’m taking …

Remember the game we used to play as kids to make the time go by faster during long road trips?

Well, I’m going on a trip to Chennai, India the first 10 days of December and I thought I would make a little list of the things I’m bringing with me. I don’t want to be a pack mule, but I also want to make sure I bring “enough” for a trip half way across the world.

I’ll be flying from DFW to Dulles to meet up with my boss and two others. Then we fly from Dulles to Brussels, Belgium — a 9-hour flight. After a 3 hour layover, we fly from Brussels to Chennai — another 9-hour flight. We’ll work in the offices in Chennai for 3 days then travel to Pondicherry on the weekend. Pondicherry is some sort of resort town near the beach and is supposedly pretty nice. Then we go back to Chennai to work for two more days before coming home.

The following are things I’ll be cramming into my backpack:

Books

  • Opening Day: The Story of Jackie Robinson’s First Season
  • I am the Messenger, by Markus Zusak
  • The Elements of User Experience, by Jesse James Garrett
  • Transcending CSS, by Andy Clarke
  • Don’t Make Me Think, by Steve Krug (this one’s not for me to read, but to give to one of the guys in India trying to learn about Web Design)

I hope I’m not bringing too many books. I hate to load down my backpack with superfluous stuff, but the last thing I want is to be stranded on an airplane with nothing to read.

DVDs

  • Minority Report
  • Matrix Reloaded
  • Good Will Hunting
  • Office Space

I am borrowing these movies from my brother. I haven’t seen any of them. Hopefully they’ll provide a nice mental reprieve when I need a break from reading.

Electronics

Of course, I’m bringing my MacBook Pro, my extra mouse and battery charger. Also bringing my iPhone and charger. I plan on taking some good pictures with our digital camera. I’ve never taken it on any of my trips, so I’m a little nervous that I’ll forget I have it and miss some good photo ops. i also don’t want to lose or break it.

Miscellaneous

Passport, sunglasses, business cards, gum. Maybe a couple of good articles printed off the internet and maybe a Sports Illustrated or two.

I’ll probably bring a full size suitcase, but haven’t even thought about packing it yet. I think its relatively warm, but not hot, over there this time of year, so hopefully I won’t need to worry about a jacket. The typical jeans, t-shirt and running shoes outfit will probably be standard for me over there.

I’m very curious about what I’ll be bringing back with me. I plan on getting souvenirs of some sort for Cori and the kids but no idea yet. I joked earlier that I’d bring a King Cobra back for Bennett. :)

Am I forgetting anything important? Any recommendations?

How to Get Hired

At Rosetta Stone, we’re looking for a senior-level Interaction Designer to help us out on the Web Strategy team. This isn’t a call for resumes or anything, but if you do happen to be interested or know someone who is, by all means send them this way.

At any rate, as I’ve been receiving and screening candidates, I’ve been disappointed with the quality of candidate resumes and portfolios and thought I’d offer some tips to help job-seeking designers maximize the possibility of getting an offer of employment.

Read the rest of this entry →

Meeting Pet Peaves

I started this post a month ago and have written and re-written it numerous times. I’ve been trying to come up with eloquent ways to talk about how to improve meetings. But I seem uninspired by that and would rather just pine about the things that bother me instead.

What I think would improve meetings the most would be to infuse some rigorousness into the way we schedule and conduct meetings. Without further adieu, here are my top-5 complaints about meetings: Read the rest of this entry →