Friday, February 10, 2006

Pivot Point

I read a great blog article the other day at about Pivot Points, which in movie terms is "an instant where you realize precisely what you’ve gotten yourself into". It reminded me of my own Pivot Point, when I realized just what working at Dell Computers was all about, and which directly led to my quitting to work full-time on HeroMachine.

I'd been working at Dell Computers for several years. The corporate culture there basically dictated that the employee with the least life outside the office wins. Put in a ton of hours on a project, bail right before it collapses and move on to greener pastures while someone else cleans up the mess, never let on that you're not at the office, on and on, your typical "Climb the Corporate Ladder" stuff.

Our team had just merged with another group in software development (one of the favorite corporate games at Dell is "Shuffle the Org Chart") a week before. It was time for the yearly "Attaboy" party, so the new fused team held the party together. They were handing out awards, and then the leader of the group stood up to make a special presentation.

"This award for the best team player goes to Tim. Tim's wife had a baby towards the end of the project, when things were really heating up. But Tim didn't let that stop him, he was in the office first thing in the morning and was the last man out. He practically never saw his new daughter, and in fact didn't get to spend any time with her until after she'd already taken her first steps!" Delighted applause and cheers from the others, appalled slack-jawed amazement from me. "So way to go, Tim, good job!"

I couldn't believe that missing your daughter's birth and first steps, ignoring your wife and newborn, spending more time at the office than with the two most precious people in the world, was a GOOD THING. A distinction deserving of engraved awards. A model to be held up before the entire community as a paragon of corporate achievement.

I left the company two months later to work full-time on HeroMachine, vowing I would never become a corporate whore like that poor bastard Tim, grinning like a slack-jawed moron as my life was slowly sucked out of my veins.


The Cow Whisperer said...

Right on target, my man. In sales, if you can believe is WORSE.

I got "promoted" twice, with the net result being that I made less money with the new comp plan, and felt more trapped every day.

Yes, "Dell" is actually just a mis-spelling of that place where a snowball has no chance.

annie'sbuddie said...

What's an RPG?

annie'sbuddie (aka cowgirl without a horse) said...

as refered to on the HeroMachine website...not the ones used Iraq.

Jill Phenix Avila said...

I left a company that praised people like Tim... Reminds me of 1984 where people are not allowed to have feelings

Jeff Hebert said...

"RPG" stands for "Role Playing Game". That's any kind of game where you as the player act out the personality of a character in the game. Dungeons and Dragons is the classic example for pen-and-paper RPG's, and World of Warcraft is an example of a computerized RPG. In fact, World of Warcraft is the largest multi-player game in history.

Denise said...

I remember when I worked at Exxon, people never told anybody else if they were getting a divorce or someone in their family was seriously ill because the boss started critiquing their performance with a keener eye to find mistakes. It was so sad to work there, knowing you had to be giving 110% all the time, too bad if your wife had cancer, your mother was dying or you had something wrong in your family. Even though I have a job where I make little money, when I had a very tough time a couple of years ago, my co-workers did my job for me, dropped tissues on my keyboard and reached over and silently took my work, did it, and never asked for thanks. My boss sent me home more than once to regroup and never, ever held it against me. They offered me a chance when the chips were down, and my boss is one of the best support groups I've got going for me. I know they're there to make money and the real importance is the bottom line, but I feel like a real person there who makes a difference and my boss doesn't forget it.

Denise said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Denise said...

By the way, Jeff, that was an incredible piece of writing, especially that last paragraph. You call it your pivot point, a friend calls it his "I Have Seen Jesus!" moment!

Jill Phenix Avila said...

since one of my resolutions this year is to not curse.. I am going to start telling people to go to “Dell”. After all I never said my resolution was to not get mad and tell people what I think of them.. or better yet where to go! ;)

The Cow Whisperer said...'s a job that takes a lot out of you, but you LOVE IT:

(That's me with my left foot up on the calf.)