I sit on a lot of things that I want to post to this blog. I generally
keep them flagged in my feed reader so I can get to them easily, under the guise that I’ll actually get around to posting them. But, I never do. Sometimes, it gets to the point where I give up, and I just unflag it–sometimes I’ll bookmark it and the link will post in my weekly del.icio.us wrap-up that gets posted to the blog. However, this one required a posting since the source material I’m referring to is audio and I don’t expect everyone to sit and listen to it. So, I’ve finally sat down and transcribed it and now I’m posting it.
Back in the beginning of March 2006, Jason Calacanis was interviewed at BarCampLA for the Tech Conference Show podcast. If you do have the time, you can listen to it yourself: MP3 (24.5 MB, 35m 41s). I’ve gone and transcribed the portion of the podcast that really stuck with me, which was the segment between 28m 36s and 30m 35s:
We had a big philosophical rule at Weblogs, Inc., which was, anybody who was
negative, a downer, not a go-getter, not resilient, we got rid of immediately,
from bloggers, to programmers, to people in the management team, anybody
involved in the company. And we probably let go of, in the history of the 300
bloggers we have, might have turned off the accounts of 5 or 10 bloggers in the
history of it, I don’t know exactly. A very small number of people,
considering most of the bloggers we’ve signed up we’ve never met in person. I
think the overwhelming majority of the time, 90% of the time we turned somebody
off, was because they were just a negative, downer, complaining: why don’t we
have this yet, why don’t we have a wiki, why don’t we have enclosures? I find
that those–when you’re in management, the people who are–you spend more than
half your time on the people who are complainers, then what happens is over
time, you don’t pay attention to the good people, so the Peter Rojas’s of the
world, the Ryan Block’s of the world, the Judith’s of the world, the Barb’s or
Brad’s … those people just sit there and do it day-in and day-out–Brian
Alvey–and then you wind up paying attention to those people who are
complaining. As a manager, you are there for the service of the people
work–and you know, I’m making those quotes with my fingers–the people “under”
you, which I hate [that phrase]. Weblogs, Inc., is the flattest organization
I’ve ever been part of, and I don’t consider myself above anybody in the
company. I actually consider myself the servant of the people on my management
team, and I consider my management team the servants of the people who work
(Any inaccuracies in the transcription are mine. Before reacting strongly to what Jason has said, please listen to the audio for yourself. There is a lot of passion and cues that are lost in the transcription process.)
Ever since hearing this a month ago, I wholly agreed: you can easily spend all your time and energies dealing with the detractors while the folks who actually do the good work end up ignored. Those people, by all rights, should be fired, as Jason’s pointed out they’ve done at Weblogs, Inc. in the past.
I’m one of those people. I complain. I’m very negative. I always see the worst in a situation, in people, in life. I should be fired: from my job, from my family, from my life. The loving, hard-working, caring people all around me shouldn’t have to put up with a downer like me. Jason’s absolutely right, which is why he’s built and sold a company and I’m just floundering here, going nowhere fast.
I’ve let the AOLserver community down by not working harder on moving it forward. I’ve let my wife down by not being a better husband. I’ve let my kids down by not being a better father. I’ve let myself down by not having the motivation, courage and determination to become successful at anything. I’ve let my friends down by not being more appreciative of them and not being more supportive of them. It just goes on and on … and the kicker is, I’ve done nothing but complain about it (at least, inside my own head, if not out loud to others) the whole time. Whenever I have tried to do things to improve things instead of complaining, it felt like the whole world was set against me, struggling to maintain the status quo. I’m defeated.
I should be fired.
Tech Conference Show,
The meaning of life is best summarized as Needs improvement.
Don’t get down in the “I’m a miserable failure” rut, it leads only to ruin. The road forks here. Only you can change yourself. Don’t expect anything to be perfect. Perfection is boring. It’s our flaws that make the world interesting. Were it not for flaws in our selves and the world around us, there would be no inspiration to strive for something greater.
You’ve realized you have a problem. You’re the only one that can change yourself. Perhaps your problem is as simple as a misconeived concept of success? What is a good father? What is a good husband? Is there some universal objective definition of either?
The worst thing you can do is run away… from your family, from your friends, from your job. I’ve known far too many middle-aged men that felt a rift in their marriage, divorced, and are now miserable, hollow men. Oh sure, they may have a decent job, have plenty of disposable income, drive a nice, fast and shiny car, but in the end, they’re miserable.
That’s the oddity … I’m already miserable. That’s what’s so puzzling about the situation: can running away make me even more miserable? I know things could get worse–a lot worse–but, maybe staying where I am is exactly what’ll cause that to happen.
I have the rest of this week to think about it and starting next week, I’ll effectively be homeless, so I’ll have a lot of time to think about these things and try to figure out what I need to do next.
Live, one day at a time … and make the best of what comes my way, as best I can.
You present things negatively, and you see the worst possible outcome, but I’ve always seen a willingness to help and some hope in what you write. Yeah, you see the worst, but I don’t see you as being unwilling to jump in and fix it if you think you can (the office wiki as an example).
Stay well. I’m sorry to hear about you and your wife. If you need anything, let me know.
As people have said…don’t get down on yourself…if you keep (or just do) focusing on it…nothing gets done. Plan to move ahead one way or another, work, home, family, ANYTHING. As we see with work…if you add 1 thing you get a new build…add one thing to your life and you get a new day a new revision.
I don’t know what’s going on with your family but if you need you can always IM or Email me…if you need anything let me know as well.
Maybe you just need a change of pace?
Not all companies are Weblogs Inc.
If you’re working at a company where the mgmt team just doesn’t “get it” like Jason C. and co. might, there might not be anything you can do.
At least… not without lots of hard work that goes unappreciated and doesn’t accomplish very much.
Management has to engender a culture of empowerment, or they will end up with a crew of complainers that really do have valid complaints, and are powerless to do anything about it.
Whatever the problems, whether personal, work, or a combination of both, you can’t fix them all at once. If someone is an alcoholic, smokes 60 cigarettes a day, and is clinically obese, the worst thing they can do is make a dramatic decision to give up the booze, the cigs, and the chocolate at the same time.
Pick one area of your life and do something to change that, and only that. Or make one major change in your life – introduce something new and start there.
The major change in my life: this weekend, I move out of the house.
Some folks have said that I’m “running away” — sometimes, that’s the only correct thing to do. Only time will tell if it was or not.