Archive for January, 2009

Interview prep

January 29, 2009

I’ve been having an ongoing debate with myself and a few others regarding an interview tomorrow.  I have the opportunity to interview for a position back in the company that let me go two weeks to the day tomorrow.  It looks like an interesting position working on a project that I have some experience in.  The group is a good group looking to move forward.  Yet, this is still a company, like many others right now, struggling to move ahead in this economy.  Now this may be a moot debating point because no one has made offers and I’m sure there are many, many strong candidates.  However, interesting arguments rage in my head. 

If I knew my job was going to be eliminated, would I have sought out a position like this one?  Sure.  I’m a strong candidate with a lot to offer.  If I knew my job was not going to be eliminated, would I have sought it out?  Probably not since I had only been in the position for a year and we were heading into this year with a number of projects ready to roll.  Of course, that is no longer the case is it. 

Some have suggested that going back to a company that “dumped” you is rather dumb (I’m paraphrasing).  It’s not like an ex-girlfriend though.  You know, the one that wants to “see other people” then sees this one guy for a week and decides, “jeez, I had things pretty good and never realized it” then comes back and wants to re-spark.  I see you nodding your head.  We’ve all been there (okay, maybe you have to use boyfriend instead of girlfriend, but you get the picture).  I argue it was not a dumping.  Someone was given a number, whether it was heads, budget dollars, it doesn’t matter.  A number needed to be met.  I was on the wrong side of the equation. 

Before my PR team gets mad at me, I should note that this was written without their approval.  I’m sure they could have crafted a nice quote filled sheet and schedule a conference, but this will have to do for now.  Here is what I know, I like working, I work hard, I can be a valuable asset to a company.  If that company is the same one I have spent 10 years with already, then that’s just fine with me.  If not, I’m sure there is another one out there that could use someone with quick whit, business sense, and a good back beat. 

And if none of that shall come to pass, I’ll be forced to start my own venture.  Let’s just say it won’t be a modeling career.

Advice from a 5 year old

January 23, 2009

It’s been a very strange day.  One week to the day from the announcement of my free agency, I found myself home doing my daily routine of connecting with people, reading job postings, searching articles, eating, going to the gym, and generally keeping busy.  Thursday is a challenge though because the kids are home.  One goes to half day kindergarten, then other is here.  My wife needed to go a few places and since I was here…you know the drill.  Kids know exactly when to enter a room, I don’t know what it is in their heads that gives them that sense, but I’m sure I had it at one point too.  I’ll have to ask my parents. 

It’s challenging enough to have a moment alone with your spouse.  I’m not referring to “those moments” but let’s face it, even sharing an embrace is often interrupted by a tug on your pant leg with a request for milk, a toy, mediation, or something along those lines.  So it should come as no surprise that halfway through a resume someone is at my side with a dire need for something.  Or as I’m writing an email to a prospective business, an odorous diaper walks by attached to a small child (and sometimes unattached which makes me move even quicker).

Today I received a note back from an application that stated I had neglected to show examples.  An oversight on my part obviously so I prepared an email reply complete with links to samples and a reference to an attached file.  The email specifically said they were only going to ask one time.  I stepped away to play chef for a moment or two (grilled cheese for the children) and came back, proof read, clicked send and felt I had accomplished something.  Three hours later it hit me, I never attached the file. 

As I sat at the table with this realization, head in my hands in frustration, my daughter asked what was wrong.  I explained I was sending out information to find a new job and forgot to attach a file which was probably going to be a problem.  She answered my distraught with the following statement.  “Daddy, you already have a job.  Your most important job is to take care of your children.” 

My head is still nodding.

When was the last time you got cut

January 20, 2009

Back in my high school years, when I was growing, moving through the awkward stages, and trying to figure out what life was all about, I got cut.  I’m not talking about stuck with a knife, I’m talking about didn’t make the team. 

My favorite sport has always been baseball.  I think part of it was my father’s love for the game and the countless hours of playing catch in the back yard.  He had two gloves that were made way back in the days before leather or padding it seemed.  One was an old first baseman’s glove back when they only had two sides and looked like an overgrown mitten. 

The other was an infielders glove with a webbing on it that was barely 2 inches across. 

He could use both though and there we would be, before and after dinner, out in the yard playing catch.  We had a dirt driveway so basketball was out of the question and I was forbidden from playing football on account of the desire to keep my knees intact.

Freshman year of high-school I somehow made the Junior Varsity basketball team.  I did a fantastic job that year keeping the right end of the bench warm and cheering on the guys who could actually play.  The same thing had happened in eighth grade since I had yet to actually grow.  However, the one thing I excelled at in eighth grade sports was baseball.  I was the catcher for our team and played fairly well.  A friend of mine was a pitcher on that same team so imagine my surprise when he informed me he was trying out for catcher when we got to freshman year. 

My school was too small to field a varsity and junior varsity so freshmen had to try out for varsity.  The upperclassman catcher was really good so I decided I would pitch instead.  Let’s face it, I was in 9th grade, it wasn’t like I was throwing heat up there that was going to scare the seniors.  I was accurate, but basically not good enough and when the list of who made the team came out, my name was not on it.  That was it.  The end.  Game over.  I didn’t want to go back to school, or try to run track.  After a few days of mourning I got my head around the situation.  Even made the team the next year as a second baseman (of course, the senior second baseman was really good so I kept the bench warm for that season too). 

That was the last time I got cut.  You know what?  I survived.  Even learned something from it.  Life continues to move ahead.  The world did not stop spinning because my name was not on a list.  Strange as it seems, that moment probably helped shape my life somehow.  I did start the last two years in high-school as a pitcher or at second base depending on the game.  I put my time in on the bench and then got to share some of the spotlight.  Well, as much as they could afford at a class D sized school in rural new york state.  As I recall, we didn’t have lights.  Maybe I was sharing some of the sunlight with my fellow players. 

What does this have to do with anything?  These are the things that go through my head when I’m driving my kids to daycare or running on the treadmill.  I think about a time where something happened that was devastating to me (coming into a game senior year to face a team we had not beaten in three years while were ahead by 2 runs and all I needed to do was get one out and I threw one pitch and lost the game) and realize that while it had an effect on me, it didn’t really shift the direction of the universe.  People in Cleveland still went home from work that day.  In Italy, a wine bottle was opened.  Somewhere in Australia a kangaroo crossed a road to get to the other side.  The world keeps spinning.

Where to begin…the network juggling act

January 19, 2009

It has been an interesting few days and the news filters out through the channels of my new free agency.  Well wishers appeared on twitter, facebook, gmail, and at a watering hole or two (where you expect it after all).  Yesterday, I broke the news to my parents who happened to be visiting by bringing up this blog site and letting them read the press release.  The first comment was on a grammatical error.  The second was to tell me a story about one of the times my mother was let go from her job.  Interesting priorities they showed with those comments. 

Friday was spent doing some research and reviewing the resume.  One of the advantages of my time at Xerox was the opportunity to move every year or two to a new position giving me a wide variety of experiences.  The challenge is the resume is heavily weighted on one company.  Of course, that also shows loyalty, focus, motivation, all things someone would want to see in a prospect.

So what’s next? Organization.  Time to make handwritten priority lists (I have forgotten how to do this with the ease of software).  Time to schedule my day like I normally would with a gym break to clear the head (I already joined a new one), and webinars since I can finally attend those on a regular basis again.  I wonder how I can get back on the lists of all those people offering them…

I’m also going to need to get a laptop.  I can already see the challenge of one computer in the house.  We just put a TV in the room where the PC is.  The plan was to use that (LCD TV) as a monitor/TV, but I am still working out the bugs on how to hook it up.  Let’s just say I had to delay this posting thanks to the Steelers playing on a screen to my immediate right.

So what are you doing?  How are you performing the juggling act?  Are you taking some time off, or jumping right back in.  And for those of you who are working, do you remember the last time you weren’t?  You can skip the just got out of college phase if you like.  What were your key methods to moving on?

Press Release: Aaron Hunt files for Free Agency

January 16, 2009

ROCHESTER, January 15, 2009  —  In what was a surprise move to some, a forgone conclusion to others, Aaron Hunt entered the free agent market following a solid 10 plus years with the same team.  The press conference, held at the west entrance of the Jefferson Road location where Aaron had spend the last 3 years, was held outdoors in spite of bitterly cold temperatures.  “I like to see my breath in the air when I speak,” said Hunt after the conference, “It makes me feel alive.”  Reading from a prepared statement, Hunt thanked a number of people and tried to summarize the situation.

“I would first like to thank my manager and his manager for treating me with respect at this time since I know this is difficult for them too.  I know they did all they could to try to prevent this.”  Xerox (NYSE:XRX) had announced months ago that it was going to need to make a few changes and take the team in a new direction.  “I am thankful that this company gave me an opportunity over 11 years ago to offer me a contract to assist customers over the phone with their small copiers.”

“You know, I was going to be a famous radio DJ.”  The comment brought a few chuckles from the audience (mostly shivering people out for the pre lunch cigarettes).  “I worked at a station and supplemented my income doing order entry at one company, outbound telemarketing and face to face sales at another, and cleaning houses post construction for still another.  I’ll tell you what, I sure don’t miss Ramen noodles.”

Aaron’s career spanned a number of areas in the company from his start in customer service, through his time as a team manager.  It was a change from customer service to marketing that created a shift in his career path.  “I went from trying to meet my goal numbers and those of my team to analyzing sales numbers and developing new programs for a sales organization.”  At this time, the company was also investing in his knowledge by funding work toward an MBA.  “That really is quite a benefit.  A company giving you the flexibility to work toward another degree and paying for it at the same time…well let’s just say it was certainly nice not having to worry about student loans again.”

In the fall of 2005, Aaron moved from the sales organization to the business group focused on office products.  “It was time for a change, after 3 years I wanted to experience something different.”  He managed the Yellow Pages advertising program, a direct mail program and outbound telemarketing.  “It was the trifecta of marketing in a way.  Think about this, you get to focus on advertising both on-line and hard-copy, develop direct mail pieces that are designed with 1:1 elements, and you are training, developing scripts, and critiquing representatives doing outbound telemarketing.  All that in one job.” 

Aaron’s final move came a year ago when he shifted from direct marketing to focus on small and medium businesses.  “Even before the economy took a nose dive, we were focused on the growing marketing of small business.  I was working to communicate with those businesses and develop packages that could help them be more successful.”  Hunt used social media to tap into some of the areas that were not collected by the research team.  “There is only so much information you can get out of MDM studies.  Let’s not forget, like polls, they are only able to interview so many people.  Lots of companies out there have different needs, we just need to start talking with them more.”  His work on Spiceworks was sited as a positive step into community involvement.  “Spiceworks is a terrific application for small and medium businesses.  It is free for users because companies like ours advertise there.  We took a risk in trying out building a community on the site, but I think we’re making progress.”

So, what’s next for Aaron as he leaves the building?  “Well, my agent has been fielding a few calls.  He wants to make sure we have a good fit.  It may be time to go to a smaller market team.  This is sort of like being a member of the Dodgers.  It is a large organization with many fans and good resources.  Compare that to a team like the Pirates.  They have the right ideas and a great facility, but need someone to help them go that extra step.  That someone is me.”

For more information on Aaron Hunt, you can follow his twitter feed (www.twitter.com/AaronCU95) or reach him via email afhcu95@gmail.com

how cold does it need to be in here

January 6, 2009

We had a show Saturday and I’m afraid my body is still thawing out.  I’ve played some cold shows before, but most of them were as a member of the Cornell Big Red Marching band, not as the member of a rock ‘n roll band.  Although, I seem to recall the first gig for one of the non guitar groups I was in, either the Moonmen or the Druthers as rather chilly.  We were asked to play a benefit at a location a bit north of the center of Rochester, NY.  It was to be an outdoor show, in November (okay, not every organizer is a genius right?) albeit early in the month.  It was raining and I think I may have spotted snow.  We musicians are strange people, I’ll admit that.  We have quirks, odd habits, strange ways of putting an outfit together, and the hair always has issues (if you have any).  When we made the decision to play anyway, we played our entire set.  Did we have to?  No.  We were really only playing to the volunteers (who were inside another tent) and two chickens and a duck (in cages in our tent, maybe the charity was for farmers or something).  That isn’t the best part though, the best part is the next group to go on was getting mad at us for stepping into their time slot.  Really.  So that they could perform for us?  I told you we were strange.

Back to Saturday’s show though, and the cold.  Look, I know it was cold outside okay?  But we played indoors.  And anyone who knows me understands me to be a rather warm person.  By that I mean I can sweat after carrying in a few pieces of gear.  Don’t be grossed out, first of all, I am very clean.  Second, I wear deodrant and have great circulation.  Armed with that knowledge, when I tell you I kept my coat on not only for load in, but while setting up off stage AND loading on stage only taking it off long enough to play for 45 minutes, then put it back on to load off all without breaking a sweat, you know that it was damn cold up there.  I never even warmed up.  This is a bad thing since the people who know these things will tell you sweating releases toxins in your system and by keeping them in, sure enough I was sick on Sunday. 

At this point, you may say to yourself, where does that highway go to.  Or you may ask yourself, where are you taking me.  I’m taking you right here.  Maybe we’re too old for this.  Maybe playing these shows with kids in their 20’s really isn’t what we should be doing.  Perhaps we should be at nursing homes leading sing alongs to “there’s a hole in the bottom of the sea” or playing “there’s a hole in my bucket” for children.  I think the parents of the kids that played before us and after us liked us though.  The security guard thought we were band transportation (although he may have been joking).  All these doubts go through your mind when you’re standing and watching the other bands, then something strange happens.  You take the stage and people don’t leave, they stay right up close to the stage.  They nod their heads and move to your music and even seem to recognize a cover tune that was written before their parents (and in some cases, mine) met.  After the show, a kid said, “you know, I like that you old guys come out and do this, it’s really cool.  plus, we can hear you.”  Um, thanks.  Maybe we should have learned one of those Nirvana tunes, that’s what’s popular now right?

father christmas, give us some money

January 6, 2009

well I hope everyone is enjoying their holiday season no matter which one or ones they celebrate.  was I the only one who wanted money this year?  as the new year starts and layoffs continue to climb in every company it seems like we all need a bit of a bail out.  don’t get me wrong, i was happy with the things i received, but i’ve been a bit consumed lately with thoughts on what 2009 will bring.