My Experience, Our Story

Every Sunday millions of Americans sit in a hard wooden pew to attend church. Regardless of the denomination the session culminates in a pastor of some kind delivering his sermon. It’s a learning situation emphasizing morals and what is expected of someone within the church community. The message is delivered usually in one of two ways – by describing negative actors who are sinners and thus need forgiveness or by sharing examples where someone demonstrated moral conviction despite dire circumstances.

There are splats on the white wall with the consistency of a slug on a humid night. They’re maroon with some tan mixed in. A few splats are sliding to the floor. Thirty seconds ago I shot a man through the abdomen and I’m about to kill another. It’s fun. Of course this happened in a popular video game; my brain is able to rationalize the fiction of it while tapping the visceral sense of survival. Viva adrenaline! I’ll play for a couple of hours, which will feel like 10 minutes, and occasionally I’ll be the one slumped on the floor, but I’ll try again and again.

We learn through experience, whether it’s our own or someone else’s. We use immediate feedback to correct behavior in the moment in time – the present – the video game. We also use our memory of what happened as a means to anticipate and learn from others – the pastor’s story.

Last week I sat with some friends and watched football. I ate an order of hot wings as I normally do. However, this time they were a little sweet. They didn’t taste bad, but I know the flavor of hot wings and this wasn’t it. So this Sunday I asked the waitress what the story was? She replied that it might be a slightly different recipe because of the cook that was there. I told her I wanted hot wings and not ones that are sweet. As soon as the order came out a part of my brain – the insula – activated and I knew they were sweet. My experience from last week was recorded and I didn’t need to eat the wings to know the taste. I ate them anyway, but I asked for a side of hot sauce.

In management it’s important to use effective story telling to bypass the time commitment of experience. If one person on the team can spend a day in training and then relay their memory of the event on to another 20 then the productivity of the group will improve tremendously.

The difficult part is that people learn in varied ways. I think that’s one of the reasons why Microsoft Powerpoint is so popular: on one slide is a bullet list of the key points, the next is a graph, the third is a picture of a team at a table planning something, and the last is a summary. But now it’s time to steal ideas from marketing and develop campaigns.

Suppose I’m trying to change the culture of a team of 20. I’ll need to have one-on-one meetings with each person to lay it straight; to be direct with what I want. Next I’ll follow that up with a Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) document answering questions that collectively each person needs a response too. I’d also possibly do an interview with someone from outside the team who would benefit from the desired changes and publish the account for the group to read. If video or other media friendly resources are available I’d look into those as well. The point is, I’d tell the story in as many formats as I can and then I’d follow it up with reinforcing ideas as much as possible.

I’m not a preacher or a video game. My goal is to tell positive stories and produce experiences that are lasting… for the whole team.

Working Thoughts 11/15/07
Cloud Computing and IBM

Working Thoughts 11/14/08
My Interview with Norm Bogner of 4Refuel

The Next 30 Years: Smaller

An election just passed and the results indicate a very unsatisfied voter. It makes perfect sense. Middle class jobs are scarce and wealth is gravitating only to the uber-rich. We’ve had a thirty year mirage in the standards of living.

Thirty years is a time period I key in on. President Ronald Reagan made thirty year policy decisions and we are at the dawn of a new thirty year window. Besides the politics of it, the transition of leadership throughout companies and communities is just now beginning. Those in their 30s and early 40s are set to grab leadership positions within the next three years.

This is a very positive development.

The values of those ending their leadership position are different from those set to attain it. For instance, the sense of privacy for a 25 year old is nothing like it is for a 60 year old. Sharing on facebook, twitter, and on blogs means you are comfortable with potential embarrassment. There is no hiding skeletons in the closet anymore.

But the main value I see differentiating the two groups is one of scale of competition. The older guard wants to amass competitive advantages and really leverage economies of scale. But the younger guard wants to go smaller. Manufacturing shaped the economics of the 20th century, but a knowledge economy is shaping the present day. Concepts like Design and Branding are ever more important. And perception plays a part in how they are valued. Perception isn’t a Deming TQM or Six Sigma concern.

Bigger versus smaller separates the path. Bigger wants to protect the status quo – scale is expensive. Smaller wants nimbleness but with standards. Think Microsoft with the Office Suite versus Apple’s App Store. Microsoft has a cash cow with Windows and they leverage it to sell Office. People are familiar with it and it works. But how much has it really changed over the last 10 years? Not much, but people keep buying it. Now think about Apple with the App Store. They developed a platform for small developer shops and large ones to compete on an even field. Apple manages the standards and sets up the merchant services. The developers can leverage the scale Apple already built with the platform and sell. Compatibility and interoperability aren’t deal breakers either. This simplifies the cost to compete. Ideas sink or swim based on their merit and marketing.

As we embark on the next thirty years, expect to see a shift in values. It’ll be less of an us and them world and competition will be a loose definition, almost encouraged. Attitudes will change. Smaller is captivating. What do you value?

Working Thoughts 11/4/08
Why Voting Matters

Cartoons: A Subtle Story Telling Mechanism

One of my tenets is the idea of an ever growing amount of data. We have our five senses gathering data for your brain, but technology is acting as an extension almost like a seventh sense. But to understand what our senses are telling us, whether it’s visual, auditory, or touch for example, we use associations. Experiences form many of our associations, be it our own or someone else’s. The “story” becomes a powerful tool for dealing with vasts amount of data. Being someone who can deal with this pervasive data stream, then understand what it means, and finally, relaying it to someone who isn’t involved is a great skillset to have.

One way people do that, is through cartoons or comics. There’s a charm to a boxed story. Dan Pink did a whole book in a style of comic called Manga. I read reviewed Johnny Bunko . Below is an additional take on comics:

http://video.ted.com/assets/player/swf/EmbedPlayer.swf

Right Place at the Right Time Happens, It Isn’t a Fluke.

There’s a movie out called The Social Network . The story shares a few perspectives on the founding of Facebook. But there are no shortage of opinions for this drama.

One common view is Mark Zuckerberg was in the right place at the right time. He was just lucky. It’s hard to argue he didn’t benefit from several favorable circumstances. Luck isn’t fated though. Good businessmen tend to be luckier than others because they play the favorable odds and work to improve their chances.

Many success stories start with a few individuals meeting at a coffee house and exchanging ideas. Connections are made and enterprises are launched. It isn’t luck these people were in the coffee house. They purposefully went there wanting to meet people who also wanted to people. A $4 coffee every other day results in a pretty wide network. So when right place at the right time happens, it isn’t a fluke.

Anthony Tjan from Harvard Business Review writes up a couple of sections in his blog first describing the type of luck he observes and then the characteristics of people who tend to be lucky. Here’s some excerpts from his blog entry Make Luck Work in Your Favor :

1. Circumstantial Luck. You go to lunch with a friend and bump into another acquaintance who introduces you to a stranger who eventually becomes your biggest client. The unintended but welcomed outcome (a new client) was unrelated to the initial action (lunch with a friend). Being at the right place, at the right time, made the difference. You were circumstantially lucky.

2. Constitutional Luck. Age, heritage, cultural background, or upbringing can predispose you to a certain outcome.

3. Ignorance, or Dumb Luck. As with the other kinds of luck, dumb luck’s role in the outcome is clear only in hindsight.

Here are the three most important things lucky people tend to do:

1. Entrepreneurially lucky people are driven by a deep intellectual curiosity. Constant focus on self improvement affords more opportunities for luck to occur. Business leaders who regularly question the norm and who seek both continuous improvements in their business, and in themselves, end up being luckier because they want to learn.

2. Lucky people feel lucky and are optimistic.  In a conversation with Tony Hsieh, the CEO of Zappos, he shared with me how people who self-described themselves as “lucky” picked up more hidden clues in a quiz. He described the fascinating test experiment in which two groups of people are given newspapers with hidden messages. While they are told to count certain images, the headlines and text on the pages have hidden messages telling them they are done and to mention a particular message to collect an extra $100. People who answered that they were “lucky” were much more likely to find the clue. Why? We think it is because they approach the world with an open and optimistic mind that enables them to see unexpected opportunity more readily.

3. Lucky people are vulnerable and humble.  These qualities are the antidote to the hubris so common among successful business builders.

Inspiration and Institutions

Malcolm Gladwell, the author of several best sellers including a favorite of mine The Tipping Point, wrote a New Yorker article last week about the bonds of Social Networking tools like Twitter and Facebook. To explain his point he describes the fears and risks of the “sit in” generation of the 1960s. Social change at that time required a particular type of nerve: courage and restraint. It was needed because the threats, occasionally deadly, were often carried out. They knew they had to endure because their weakness would lead to weakness in others. Gladwell calls these strong bonds.

6.2 million people have been unemployed for more than six months. Being without work for that long is troubling to the mind. Being available in case something comes up and the instability of simply not knowing is tough. Plus it’s lonely. But 6.2 million is a big number and it means there’s probably someone within your community who is in the same predicament. That is where a site called Unemployed-Friends.com comes in. It’s a means for those without work to exchange messages, thoughts, and prospects. But besides the fringe benefits of venting, it’s a market for helping each other. That’s the genius of it, these people have time and unused skills available. And this is just the short term benefit. Strong bonds might be the long term benefit.

When I was about eight years old, I remember the pull the professional wrestling. “Who won Wrestlemania?” I’d ask my dad because it was too late for me to stay up. This was the ’80s and wrestling wasn’t obvious about the scripted action yet. People like Hulk Hogan would get the crowd going with their back stage interviews. In the late ’90s a resurgence followed and people could smell what The Rock was cooking. The camera would pan the stands and see signs with clever sayings like “Hogan was a Flintstone” and “This Space for Rent.” Everyone would chant the catch phrases and nothing would be better than Jerry Lawyler’s high pitch announcement of a surprise wrestler “WHAT?! That’s Stone Cold Steve Austin’s music!” Simply exciting.

But this type of connection is weak. It’d only last while the entertainment was going and then it was time to move on to something else. I think this is what Gladwell was trying to get across with his New Yorker piece. That Twitter and other Social Networks are forms of entertainment and have no lasting kinship. But we are also in a society where the threat of an act is all that is needed. It’s pretty powerful. So getting a few thousand signatures via facebook isn’t the same as a “sit-in” but it sends the message to the offending party that they could be in a costly confrontation. And then they have to decide if it’s worth it.

I mention all this because I think a real test of these tools is underway. The US election cycle for 2012 will begin in about six weeks. About a year later we’ll begin to see a lot of movement around a third party candidate. Thomas Friedman in the NY Times writes about the idea in a Op-Ed piece called Third Party Rising . He should have used a former wrestler as an example – Jesse Ventura ran a grass roots campaign in the mid ’90s, about the time the Rock was cooking, and became governor of Minnesota. Michael Bloomberg might give it a shot, we’ll see, but I don’t think a third party can win, but he can get close, and the mere threat should send shock waves to the Democrat and Republican Parties. From a business perspective, the time is right to capitalize on the on coming need and use of the strong and weak bonds.

Working Thoughts 10/4/08
September 2008 Jobs Report and Wages

How Pleasure Works – A Book Review

Quick Take: This book goes into the depths of the mind and looks for what feeds the source or core of happiness. There are stories of art theft, belching contests, bed pans, and cannibalism and I bet none of these you’d put on par with a birthday cake. And that is the point of the book, pleasure is not a straight forward emotion. A man paid $772,500 for a set of golf clubs. It makes you wonder why?  Hint – they were John F. Kennedy’s (if you’re still thinking “so what” then this book is really for you). Either way, I enjoyed it.

Detail Review: Paul Bloom is a psychologist at Yale University. He’s the author of other books, but those have a slightly different take on the brain: how it develops in regards to language. I think because this isn’t his first take, he writes in a style that is easy to read. His narratives are clear and support his point very well. In a world where books are taken in 15 minutes at a time, this is a good quality to have.

I normally start with the aesthetics. The hard cover has a simple white sleeve with the title, the subtitle, the author’s name and then a picture of an oyster with a pearl. I think that’s a metaphor for cracking open the mind and finding treasure. I like the less is more approach, but I’ve heard white is the worst choice because it shows smudges and dirt easily. That may be true, but I like it. The font is medium to large in size and the book is a solid 227 pages counting the preface.

How Pleasure Works Cover

The book ultimately is a cross between psychology and philosophy and it centers on something called essence. And as a psychologist he has many studies supporting his argument. But essence is as much a philosophic topic as anything. You can refer to it as the life force, the soul, or the mass effect of billions of neurons firing in a self aware brain. Cultivating one’s own essence is the basis of pleasure. Whether it’s through the adoption of other people’s essence or the exercise of your own. As Bloom states in the preface:

     There is an animal aspect o human pleasure. When I come back from a run with my dog, I collapse onto the sofa, she onto her dog bed. I drink a glass of cold water, she laps from her bowl, and we’re both a lot happier.

This book is about more mysterious pleasures. Some teenage girls enjoy cutting themselves with razors; some men pay good money to be spanked by prostitutes. The average American spends over four hours a day watching television. The thought of sex with a virgin is intensely arousing to many men. Abstract art can sell for millions of dollars. Young children enjoy playing with imaginary friends and can be comforted by security blankets. People slow their cars to look at gory accidents, and go to movies that make them cry.

Some of the pleasures that I will discuss are uniquely human, such as art, music, fiction, masochism, and religion. Others, such as food and sex, are not, but I will argue that the pleasure that humans get from these activities is substantially different from that of other creatures.

 

There’s great analysis of the value of art, particularly how a copy, or forgery, is no where near as valuable as an original. If I know Paul Cezanne painted a piece in my collection, then I know it’s worth more than if someone else painted in a similar style. The reason is because I know Cezanne was an artistic genius. The means in which he assembled color, stroke, and arrangement shows a mind – an essence – that no one else originally came up with. Jackson Pollock is the ultimate test for this. His art is labeled abstract expressionism. I see paint splats, but others see a chaotic reflection of the subconscious and because of that, he is heralded.

And the author doesn’t really get into it, but I think portraits are the ultimate in revealing essence, especially if they are self portraits. For the Seinfeld fans out there, you’ll remember an episode where Jerry dates a painter. The painter does a portrait of Kramer and when George asks Jerry why, he responds “She sees something in him.” Kramer has an essence and the painter captures it. Later in the story an older couple is viewing the portrait, “The Kramer,” and has this exchange:

Seinfeld Comments 4

Although this is comedic, it’s true. Art isn’t only about beauty. There’s a pull of something greater than a cloth with ink on it. Performance art and shock are continually testing society.

There’s a story called Where the Red Fern Grows. It’s about a couple of coon hound dogs befriended by a little boy. It’s an early adolescents tale. My sixth grade English teacher read it to my class of 14. It’s over 20 years later and I can’t remember her name, but I do remember the entire class welling up in tears as the story unfolded. We were saddened by what happened, but this fictional story was enjoyed by each one of us.

This pleasure resonates in the imagination of everyone, be it sappy love stories, video games, horror movies, or some other mental escape. I agree with the author that this is a hold over from the evolution of planning. He doesn’t really discuss it, but the way the brain is structured is by layers, somewhat like it grew from the center out. The center is the emotional core. Emotion is great for survival, so it makes sense. The prefrontal cortex and other cognitive regions evolved on top of the emotional engine. It’s kind of like we take in all this data via our senses, but the brain needs a way to answer the “so what?” Stories are powerful because they tap the emotional center and push for action. Imagination is a means for practicing these situations and the strange pleasure it elicits is motivation.

I devise fantasy lands of unicorns and I dream of taking over the world. Each of these escapes adds to my essence.

——————

Well Said Leadership Characteristics

Every Sunday the NY Times runs an interview of a business leader called Corner Office. The questions are about leadership, hiring, and career advice. The answers are usually insightful. For example, this past Sunday George S. Barrett was the interviewee. He’s from Cardinal Health – the Chairman and CEO to be exact. Adam Bryant asked a question about Leadership and got a response I wholeheartedly agree with. Leadership is essentially about particular characteristics and how they are conveyed. He sums it up well below:

Q. What’s your philosophy of leadership?

A. Articulating it in a single sound bite is hard for me, but I’d say this. I do think leadership is largely about trust, and trust has a couple of dimensions. It starts with competence. People have to believe that you really know what you’re doing. They have to really trust in your judgment because the data is so complex out there that they have to believe you can see through all the silliness and have some sense of the right course.

People have to trust that you have a point of view about what this enterprise is going to look like. What do we seek to be? And they have to trust that you understand them, that you get them. Not necessarily that you know them personally, but you understand what it’s all about to work here and that you have their interests at heart. I think that when you can do those things, it can be a powerful combination.

I think people sometimes equate leadership with charisma and decisiveness. I think those are powerful tools, and I hope I have both,but they’re not to be confused with leadership. I know a lot of very charismatic people who lack judgment and competence, and they’re not great leaders. They’re just fun to be around. And I know some very decisive people who lack judgment, which is terrifying.

Also, I think a leader has to be comfortable with having the weight on their shoulders. And that’s not for everybody. It can be hard, and it’s a different experience if you haven’t had to experience this. That’s not for everybody, but I like it because I don’t feel like I’m alone. I windup bringing the group together, and we own the weight. I love that part of it.

I also believe that leadership is a two-way street. I tell my team, “I expect to learn from you as well as you’ll learn from me.”

Working Thoughts 8/17/07 (this is a seminal belief of this blog)
At What Point Does It Stop Being Education?

Working Thoughts 8/17/09
Job Losses and the Self Employed

Different Ways to Climb the Steel Stairs to the Top

I went to a Catholic elementary school. It was the type of building that was stately from the front with massive doors and an elongated walkway to the entrance. However, if you took the profile from the side, it was just a rectangle box. As you opened the doors you were presented with a climb to the second floor. It was about 80 steel stairs up. Once you got to the top you were presented with a long dim hall with class rooms on each side. The first to the left was sixth grade, next on the right was fourth grade. Back to the left further down was fifth grade. Second and third flanked the ends. The hall culminated with the door to first grade. This building was old: steel and concrete with little or no insulation. Every morning to start school we’d all gather in the big hall and say parts of the rosary. A classmate of mine, Rhiannon, once passed out.

I have plenty of stories about this school and here’s a couple.

  • In third grade I was put in charge of the heat. Being an old school it had a massive furnace in the basement. Occasionally the submarine style door would be open to it and I’d swear it was 120 degrees in there. Anyway, the heat was distributed to each classroom through coils near the windows. I sat next to the nob that allowed heat to come into the room. If someone was cold they had to come see me so I could turn the nob on. I have no idea why I was put in charge, but I performed the job well.
  • In fifth grade we had daily spelling tests. Each student had a cheesy single month calendar taped to the wall near the windows. They were hot air balloons. Every time someone got a 100% on a spelling test they would get a small hot air balloon sticker to go along with the day of the week on the calendar. As the month would end, Kristin on her calendar had just about every day filled up with stickers and Jason had none. It was a visible cue about who scored well on the spelling tests and who didn’t. I looked at those balloons quite a bit and they motivated me to be near the best. I wanted to beat Kristin. The spelling test was practically secondary, it was just a means to an end – beating Drew, Patrick, and Kala.

Its 21 years later and I can vividly see those balloon stickers. They were the only colorful things in the school.

I wasn’t motivated to score well on the spelling test just for the sake of it. I didn’t care about it. But I was motivated by getting a sticker. A site called Ultrinsic.com is doing a similar thing with college student’s grades. The site allows you to open an account and make small wagers about your performance in different classes you are registered in. Think you’re getting an A in biology – bet $20 on it. The amount of the bet practically doesn’t matter. I’m so much more interested in a football game if I have $5 dollars on it. I normally wouldn’t care, but with $5 on it I want to see if I’m right and I will pull for whatever team reinforces my opinion.

I think a site like this can work out, but the problem I see with it is the time horizon is too long. Gambling is so powerful because of the immediate feedback of it. If I had to pony up money in September, by the time December rolls around I’ve considered it a lost cause. I had an opportunity at a sticker every day.

Unfortunately for my Catholic school, it didn’t pass a few of it’s own tests. The cost to keep it viable was too high and it’s now a green field… nevertheless, I can still see it.

Wealth Distribution and Taxes: What’s Fair?

There’s a lot in the news lately about the George W. Bush tax cuts that are set to expire. These cuts were part of a larger tax cut program Bush put into place during the years 2001 through 2003. The only part of the tax cuts that is still up for debate is the tax rate for the top income bracket. It is 35% and is set to go back to 39.6%.

Opinions, interestingly, are coming from all sorts. For instance, billionaire Wilbur Ross said he was OK with his taxes rising, as long as the tax income goes to something worthwhile like R&D. And plenty of uber rich people have pledged their income to causes they support , like the Bill Melinda Gates Foundation or other charities. Alan Greenspan, once an advocate for the tax cuts, is expressing the need to let them run their course. $700 Billion in revenue is too great a haul for the US to ignore, especially since it comes from a small portion of citizens.

Or at least you think it does. The tax code is fairly arbitrary in how it separates out income brackets. As James Surowiecki points out in his New Yorker article titled Soak The Very, Very Rich , the top bracket is 3% of the US population and that tier starts at  two hundred thousand dollars a year as an individual or two hundred and fifty thousand dollars a year as a household. This number encapsulates many small business owners and people who live in expensive geographies like NYC or San Fransisco. I don’t agree with increasing the tax burden of these people. Small business can be a hiring machine in the right environment, so sapping income isn’t a good idea. Plus, there’s a big difference between $250,000, $1,000,000, and $10,000,000.

Here are some stats from James Surowiecki’s article:

  • Top tier tax bracket starts at $200,000 for an individual and $250,000 for a household
  • $250,000 is the top 3% of American households
  • $250,000 is four times the national median
  • In a place like Manhattan, an apartment can cost $900,000
  • Between 2002 and 2007
    • The bottom 99% of incomes grew 1.3 % a year in real terms
    • Incomes of the top 1% grew 10% a year
      • That 1% accounted for two-thirds of all income growth in those years
    • People in the 95th to the 99th percentiles of income have represented a fairly constant share of the national income for 25 years now
      • But in that period the top 1% has seen its share of national income double
      • In 2007, it captured 23% of the nation’s total income
      • Even within the top 1%, income is getting more concentrated: the top 0.1% of earners have seen their share of national income triple over the same period
      • All by themselves, they now earn as much as the bottom 120 million people

So at the same time that the rich have been pulling away from the middle class, the very rich have been pulling away from the pretty rich, and the very, very rich have been pulling away from the very rich.

Just to be clear, I don’t necessarily want to increase the tax rate for the super wealthy per se. They already pay a huge portion of the tax income for the US (35% of a lot of money equals a lot of money). What I do want though is to consider the unequal distribution rate of the top 1%. From the years 1995 to 2004, the most wealthy in the US went from being 3.68 times more wealthy than the average person to 4.81 times. Here is a graphic and stats :

Net Worth Measure

1995

1998

2001

2004

Change

% Change

Median

70.8

83.1

91.7

93.1

22.3

31%

Mean

260.8

327.5

421.5

448.2

187.4

72%

Mean/Median

3.68

3.94

4.6

4.81

 

 

  • 1980 – the top 1% richest Americans accounted for 8% of total national income
  • 2008 – the top 1% richest Americans account for 20% of total national income
  • The last time the top 1% accounted for 20% of total national income was 1928

Another chart I created a couple of years ago shows how the richest 400 people in the US has the same amount of wealth as the first 51% of the US population. 400 people have more wealth than over 50% of the population combined.

The question is about sustainability. Can the top 0.1% continue to grow their wealth and is it at the expense of the rest of the US population? If so, then taxing them a variable amount based on income distribution rates is a better idea.

Working Thoughts 8/9/07
Other Work Related Blogs

Working Thoughts 8/9/08
Cost of Living Driving Executives

Honest Reflection on a Job Change

We are social animals. Culture and norms nudge our behaviors toward being part of a team or at least not disrupting the herd too much. But one of the most important times to be selfish is during a job change. It’s vital to maximize these changes for every market value dollar out there. It’s so uncomfortable though. It’d be better if this really was a free agent nation.

With that said, a friend of mine, we’ll call him Jason Peters, was nice enough to answer a few questions about his job change.
I’d like to make this interview format a running segment on the blog, so if others want to email in their answers, please feel free.


Now that the process is over, how satisfied are you? Is there anything you felt you left on the table?
-I think I got what I deserved and I’m very satisfied with my decision.  Granted it’s only been 3 weeks.
 
What about the process was something you never considered or thought about?
-I went to a direct competitor which makes everything more difficult.  No 2 week notice, they want you gone that day.  It’s touchy discussing specifics even though you feel you have an obligation to explain your decision.  It was also difficult because my former employer wanted to counter offer and my future employer wanted me to sign on the dotted line.  Luckily I had a little time but that was very nerve racking.
 
How long did it take from start to finish?
-From first call to hire it took nearly 1 1/2 months.
 
How many interviews (formal and informal)?
-2 with the the recruiting firm, 1 on the phone with my direct manager, 1 in person with my direct manager, 1 with VP of Sales, 1 with President of Sales and Marketing.  
 
Were you close to leaving before?
-Not really.  I was always causally looking and had a few interviews here and there.
 
How long were you at your previous job?
-4 1/2 years
 
What is the  ideal length to be in a role for a job (2 years, 5 years, …)?
– I think that depends on the overall satisfaction of your job.  Although i think it’s probably healthy for most people to alter/change jobs every 3 years or so, there’s 3 area’s in which I focus on primarily to answer that question.
1. Am I making the money I deserve?
2. Do I enjoy what I do?
3. Do I have a good work/life balance?
 
What was the main reason for leaving – money, change, career advancement?
– Hands down, money.
 
What about the negotiation process was interesting?
– I liked the fact that I had a recruiter negotiating/relaying my requests.  It’s never healthy to haggle over salary/vacation with your soon to be employer.
 
What did you learn for next time?
-Aim even higher!
 
What type of monetary increase did you expect and get (in relation to your market value)?
-I think I did really well.  My salary increased 35%  and I should easily increase my bonuses by 300%!
 
What about the human element of this process? Are there people you’re going to miss and are there hard feelings about the departure?
– Absolutely.  I had great relationships with my coworkers.  Since I moved to a competitor I may even lose a good friend over it.
 
What necessitated your departure? Timeliness? Advancement in qualifications (schooling/certification)? Someone blocking your advancement?
Well, because of the timing of departure of a predecessor, and completion of my MBA, I was ready to move on.  I was very unsatisfied with my compensation and felt like I couldn’t afford to work there anymore.  I was also getting bored.