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November 2011

Personal Accountability: The End Of My Rant – Read It Or Don’t

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I was on a personal accountability kick for my past few posts and I wanted to finish it off with this post and move on to my next rants. I’m finding that I’m getting grumpier as I age. I’m actually excited to be that old guy in the neighborhood that’s out yelling at the kids. I believe we’re all responsible for our own actions. This also means that no other persons influence can be blamed for our behavior once we understand our situation. This means that if I’m neglected as a youth I don’t get the ‘right’ to grow up to be a molester and excuse myself based on my youth. If I’m aware of my actions than I’m also responsible to make sure they’re appropriate. I’m confident this post is going to come back to bite me. Nothing in life is fair and it was never implied that it would be.

 

On December 2nd I go to a hearing with the Utah Labor Committee to determine whether I have a good case against my former employer who owes me and many other former employees a lot of money. Many of those people have turned to blame the company’s ethics and are still spouting hatred towards the company. Some have gone as far as writing fake complaints about the company in various complaints websites just to take them down. What these people don’t understand is that the company is already out of business. I’ve personally watched the former president of the company come to my building looking for a job (not to my company, he was going to another company in my building). These hateful people have even gone as far as dragging my former manager and myself and a few other people I worked with down by accusing us of being part of the scam.

I’m not going to get into all the details. The facts behind the business are simply that it was clear the company was dying for well over a year before they finally went out of business. The first day I started at the company they were giving away a large screen TV. They kept up with offering perks and incentives to push sales and drive the company forward. Most of my customers were happy and the company was doing very well. Over the next few years the feeling of the company died down and the prizes stopped and it became more and more of a burden to push a sale. We were still making the sales but they became stupid sales. My team and I watched as we would quote $5,000 for a website and it would sell for $2500. Then the company dropped the hosting charges from $40/month down to $10/month or less if the customer fought hard enough. At the same time the president formed a dream to build the most hideous piece of software I had ever heard of called HIT Designer, which was a Adobe AIR platform and built HTML websites. All the code was absolutely positioned and the ugliest code I had ever seen. I absolutely hated the software but that was the future of the company. My own programming department was also developing a monstrous code that I really didn’t like, and neither did the programmers who were building it, but they kept going forward because that’s what they were being paid to do. In all I estimate the company spent about $500,000 on R&D for these software packages. According to one of the owners that number is actually $1,500,000 that was wasted on these software flops.

I know, you’re wondering where I’m going with all this. Near the end, as the paychecks started bouncing and the company was holding massive layoffs and I was watching my friends walk out the door there were those of us who kept working. The company fired some amazing designers who worked hard and gave everything they had to make the customers happy while they kept the designers who didn’t work as hard but they sold more. In the end it was all about doing what brought in the dollar but forgetting about serving the customer who paid the dollar. I witnessed all this go down. I was even told that the company would probably be closing its doors (though they told me that wouldn’t happen for many months down the road). During it all I kept my hopes up and I worked the best I could to keep moral up. I was confident that we could turn the company around and make a profit. I had great ideas and in the end the company finally started listening to me – so I thought. As it turns out the company was only doing those things that would bring in money but dropping everything that would fulfill that sale. I watched it all happen and I was completely oblivious to the deception around me. Sadly, I don’t think anyone I worked with understood how bad the system had gotten. It was years of compromising and bad decisions that ended the company.

Now I’ll tie this into personal accountability – since that is the topic that I’ve been ranting about. I would like to finally be done with this because I want to move onto my next rant (Automation, the death of us all). As I’ve mentioned a few times I watched my companies death and though I did everything I could to stop it my efforts were worthless and I ended up losing thousands in the process. If I had quit at the beginning of the decline I would be financially better off. Beyond that I can’t say whether I would be in a better position. I’m fighting to get whatever money I can get from the company but I don’t hold a grudge against the owners. One of the owners I’ll never trust again. Two of them I never knew so I can’t make a judgement but the fourth I knew and I still trust him. In fact, it’s him that I based my stand on when I chose to stay with the company as it went down.

All this comes down to one simple idea, which is that I was doing what I thought was right. I thought I could make a positive difference. In fact I know I made a difference. I was able to get projects pushed through and I sped up a lot of issues that my clients would otherwise have been lost in the sea of horrible customer service. I fought for the members of my team to get them paid properly, often at a lost of myself getting paid. Although my efforts were all in vain I know I made a positive twist to the dying company. I don’t know if I would have been better off if I had quit early on and it’s too late to daydream about the so many “what if’s” there are in my past. All I can do is push forward now and push for what I really want. Maybe it’s ironic that I’m fighting to get my money from the company while I don’t hold any hateful thoughts towards them, but then why should I? I saw the writing on the wall as well as any body else and I chose to stay. That was my choice and once I made that choice the blame is put on me, though it does not excuse them from paying me.

We’re all offered opportunities throughout our lives and the outcome of those choices that we make are ours to deal with. There are choices I’ve made in my life that I might like to have a do-over with, at least I might think that now. I also believe that as long as I’m doing everything I can to the best of my ability and put my faith in God to fill in the gaps that I can’t go wrong. We’re all given the same opportunity with our lives. I’m just tired of watching people accuse corporations for not providing them with the way of life they wish for. I’ve seen extremely poor people living the happiest lives and I’ve seen the very wealthy constantly worry about their massively accumulated garbage. I’ve also seen sad poor people and happy rich people. Our lives are what we make of them. I chose to not blame my situation on my former company. In fact I would thank them to some degree. If I had quit prior to when I did I might not be employed with WebConcepts LLC now. I have my job because I took responsibility at HIT and I worked hard to serve my customers. Somehow I made an impression on my boss and he asked me to join his team. Things actually worked out very well because I didn’t give up and blame the company for the problems, though they didn’t end up as I had planned. In fact all the people I know who were in similar situations, including those who were fired, ended up better off.

Our choices are ours to fight for. We just have to be willing to take life as it comes and go with the flow. Control of our lives is an illusion. Though we can influence our paths, where we end up is anybody’s guess. I don’t regret my past and I’ll always be curious what I might have been if I had made other choices. Who would I be if my mother let me join the army when I was 17. Who would I be if I had gone on a mission? Who would I be if I had gone away to school? Who would I be if I never went to college? Who would I be if I decided to speed through the light instead of stopping? I accept who I am because of my choices and I do my best to make better choices in the future based on my past. I have plethora or poor choices in my past that I can use to help me make better choices in the future. My past defines who I am now, but I’m not limited to that definition.

I think I turned to like 50 tangents in all that. My point was to simply look to your self to fix problems and stop blaming everything else. If that’s what you got out of all this than I accomplished my purpose. If you got anything else than be sure to come back for my next post where I spent a few hours complaining about automation.

Personal Accountability: Be Prepared To Lose What You Love Pt. 2

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Just to be clear, if you’ve come back and you’re ready for your shake – you get to pay for it. I’m not buying a thousand shakes for you all.

I was saying in my last update about Occupy Wall Street and how those in the protest are wearing their designer jeans and driving fancy cars. I actually don’t know what they were driving or wearing, I wasn’t there. Scanning through the images on Google doesn’t tell me much except it seems the most of them are wearing the same stuff I wear. One thing that seems consistent is that most of the protesters are kids. My first reaction is to call them kids who think they’re entitled to something. That’s a broad attack though. I really don’t know these people. The few TV snippets I’ve seen haven’t put much in the way of a really intelligent crowd though.

I’m questioning the validity of the campaign but more important I’m wondering about the human spirit and how far it’s willing to go to stand up to defend what it (we, humans) believe in. I’ve been reading the Book of Mormon lately and in the book of Alma Chapter 43:45 it talks about the spirit of the Nephites as they fight to defend what they believe in:

45 Nevertheless, the Nephites were inspired by a better cause, for they were not fighting for monarchy nor power but they were fighting for their homes and their liberties, their wives and their children, and their all, yea, for their rites of worship and their church.

During this battle with swords and cimeters the Nephites were defending themselves and their homes from the attack of the Lamanites. I find it hard to imagine myself holding a sword and running into battle. But this entire army was commanded of God to do just that.

47 And again, the Lord has said that: Ye shall defend your families even unto bloodshed. Therefore for this cause were the Nephites contending with the Lamanites, to defend themselves, and their families, and their lands, their country, and their rights, and their religion.

So my real question asks how far are we willing to go to make a difference? Right now it looks like camping out on Wall Street and in other various places across the country seems to be the limits. Ironically there are some capitalists who are making money selling tshirts off this thing. That’s what’s awesome about America. Someone will find some way to make money off just about anything. But then if you make too much money you cross the line and suddenly everyone hates you. One day I hope to cross that line. If I ever do cross that line I promise to do the same thing that everyone else claims they’ll do when they cross the line. I’ll give back to the community and share the wealth because I don’t need that much money.

That was a tangent, sorry – it happens. Back to what I was saying: how far are we willing to go? Who are the largest criminals that we’re fighting against? I really don’t know, but are we willing to go without whatever they produce? Are we willing to give up electricity to fight against the power companies? Are we willing to ride bikes to work to fight the gas companies? Ironically if we were to ride bikes to work the gas prices could come down because of the surplus. When the prices come down we’ll start driving again and we’ll hike the prices back up. It’s all about us and our actions. Accountability isn’t about waiting for someone else to fix the problems. It’s about each of us being responsible for our actions. It’s difficult to imagine the leap in our lifestyle we would need to make to break away, but the results would be a simpler lifestyle where we’re not dependent on what the corporations are telling us that we need. Instead we would live based on what we actually need. I’m not implying that we all quit our jobs are run to some commune in the mountains!

I’ve got 2 beautiful kids that I can’t imagine going anywhere in the car unless their in their car seats. However I remember as a kid I used to like to lay down on the floor of the car. I had no car seat. I have become dependent on car seats to feel like my kids are safe in the car. I can’t leave my house without my cell phone and I don’t even call people and nobody ever calls me. Why is my phone so important? I’m sure it’s because I pay so much for it and it also has Angry Birds on it.

This rambling is getting too long. I’m going to make this a three part series!