The Whirlwind of the Past Five Years

This is my experience over the past 5 years…

For over a decade I worked in the retail field and didn’t have a desire to leave it.  It was comfortable and the money was decent enough to make a living.  It was always an assumption (of mine) that I would end up working in Real Estate or managing a big box store of some sort down the line.  Around 2 years before Future Shop closed its doors, most people could see the writing on the wall.  Instead of doing 70-80k per day on the weekend, it was dwindling down to 30-35k.  Staffing was non-existent in certain departments and sales-people were asked to be experts in all different areas of technology. I actually sold a fridge with a closing line of “that it could take a punch if you ran out of beer”. It was only a matter of time before our store in Cambridge was going to fold up and I would receive a buy-out.  At the time in my head, it did not make sense to look for a new career because of this.

Over those two years, I was determined to figure out what to do next – Real Estate, Insurance, and Managing in Retail were all possibilities… sales in tech was where I decided to go.  It wasn’t easy to get into, there were many companies that didn’t want to hire a mid-30’s retail sales dude as an Account Executive.  Most tech companies want b2b (business to business) sales experience which I did not have.  Business Development was generally a role for young adults straight out of school and had a salary that was going to be a pay cut compared to what my commissions were at FS.  Even after deciding that it was worthwhile taking the dip it was still extremely difficult to get hired into this role. Most companies figured that I would leave at the first chance I got.  That, or my expectation to move up within the company would be urgent – interviews were piling up in tech, but no bites.  There was a job at a Bell store that was sitting waiting for me, but the burnout from Retail was real for me.  I did work one day at Bell and dealt with a (Karen) customer issue of their kid streaming media while in the States and the bill was in the hundreds… that afternoon I decided to quit with no offer in hand.

Finally, I interviewed with a cybersecurity company called eSentire… I’d never heard of them and had no idea what they did.  I met with a VP at the company that was building out the Business Development program and ran the Inside Sales team as well.  This dude interviewed me in a style that I had never seen or been a part of before… no standard template of interview questions or typical fluffy banter.  It was a relaxed conversation asking me questions on how I (the style) sold computers at Future Shop and drilling into what his concerns were about hiring someone that had so much experience selling a certain way.  Instantly, my guard was down, and it felt like a real-life conversation you would have at a bar versus being judged and analyzed.  It was refreshing and I laid it all out and ended up getting the gig.

Since then it has been a crazy ride of moving into different roles and learning all sides of how tech sales works.  The easiest way to describe the fast-paced world of tech is, it is like a very addictive drug.  Every decision and direction that you take has a huge impact on the business – I have been lucky to be given a lot of free reign on the moves and vision that I have.  To make changes at most companies it has to run through multiple layers of the business before even the smallest thing can be changed.  This is not the case at most tech companies, changes are often made on the fly. This makes the job fun, and also extremely stressful.

In my case, I’m directly/have been responsible for the livelihoods of dozens of young professionals that for the most part is in the first “career” type job.  The hiring strategy that I take is that it is preferable for the candidate to have had a tough job (retail, serving, door to door, etc…) in the past. Cold calling potential prospects requires a thick skin and have already dealt with tough situations it is easier to get over that “fear” barrier. Generally, with the talented people that I have seen it takes 6 months of the job before I see the light bulb “turn on” above their head. At that point, you can generally see what skills they have to help them choose a career path to strive towards in the future. Anywhere from the 1 year to the 2-year mark they leave the nest so to speak. It’s extremely satisfying seeing people that I’ve managed to move into different areas of tech, and quickly have success… that’s my drug! If I didn’t get a chance to work with my original VP there’s no doubt in my mind that things would have ended a bit differently. He taught me that I could be myself while managing… (I’d like to think of myself as) honest, genuine, and empathetic when leading. I always had this idea in my head that you needed to “become corporate” when in charge – there is nothing further from the truth. The goal that was imprinted on my brain was that you allow people to show you their skillset, give them structure and confidence to excel in the role without hanging over them.

I’ve been lucky to have great leadership for nearly my entire time moving from eSentire to Axonify, and back to eSentire – you don’t know how important it is until it’s gone.  I have no idea where/what I will be or doing in 5 years… that used to stress me out.  Now, since living in slightly controlled chaos it does not give me the same anxiety – it’s a nice feeling.

A Strange New World

It’s been an extremely odd last couple of weeks.  I went from being a dude that was able to go out and do whatever I wanted to a guy that was restricted to his house for the majority of the day – adjustment has been difficult.  All of these articles you read telling you about the wonderful things that you could be (re)discovering while you work from home… play board games, read books, cook wonderful time-consuming dinners, watch all of the movies, etc… all of this is true.  It does take time to get used to though – when your world gets flipped upside down (bonus point for anyone that read it in the Fresh Prince tune) like it has for many of us it’s a strange existence.  It’s not the fear of getting the virus that I’m afraid of, it’s the time that it will take for things to go back to normal.

When will sports resume? Going to a pub with a buddy? Having lunch with people from work? None of these questions are even close to being answered.  Trying to stay informed is fairly easy right now with nothing else to report on (Tom Brady somehow still wins), the entire world is on pause right now.  There are a few sides that you can see on social media.  Some people are afraid and are posting things that the Government should do (becoming upset when it doesn’t happen the way they believe it should) and/or becoming vigilantes for the general public of things they see wrong.  Others (myself included) are trying to make light of the situation ease their own tension behind the severity of the virus.  Lastly, you have the realists that know we haven’t seen the peak of this, and expect things to get much worse.

I’m trying to stay positive during this whole time.  I do believe Canada got ahead of the virus quicker than other countries.  It would be difficult for me to believe otherwise.  My personality doesn’t suit a doomsday persona.  I’m abiding by all the rules and know the severity of the situation… it’s just not healthy for me to believe that I won’t be able to enjoy the company of others through the summer months – taking it week by week is the healthiest approach for my own personal sanity.  Eating properly, exercising, writing, keeping things light on social media, and staying productive while I work from home is how I’m surviving this.  Adjustments are being made daily – it’s easy to get into a mode of extreme routine.  Unfortunately, this becomes problematic after even a couple of days.

Others will have zero issues handling this.  Many people seem like they’ve been training their entire lives for this.  It really is as easy as sitting on the couch and keeping yourself entertained.  It’s interesting watching people handle this situation online.  None of it is incorrect, other than sharing misinformation.  I’m trying to keep an open mind that not everybody will handle this the same and that people on social media are scared and they’re digesting everything the only way their body will process the fear.

After this is all over there are multiple things that will be interesting to watch moving forward…

  • Will this be the kickstart that the world needs to see to try to solve global warming?
  • Is technology going to be as heavily relied on for entertainment? It’s one of our sole sources currently.
  • How will the economy bounce back? Will we go into a multi-year recession?
  • Will Governments be more prepared for the next time this happens?
  • What will Charmin (toilet paper company) do first when they purchase the country of Ukraine?

This is the weirdest situation that I’ve ever witnessed.  During 9/11 we had a bad guy(s) to blame and it was simpler to understand how to keep people safe.  This is a silent killer that we can’t blame (unless you are Trump blaming China).  The fix is not easy, it requires an adjustment across the entire world.  With over-population and the ease of travel all over the world, this virus will definitely have staying power.  In years past with deadly diseases we couldn’t travel as simply to spread it – this made it so much easier to contain.  Now we have to deal with misinformation, ignorance, unpreparedness, fear, and a global spread.  Fuck, this is depressing! It’s only been a short time of course, and at the end of the day, we are really only being told to stay home.  My job has been fantastic with the pandemic and the team that I lead has been phenomenal during this whole ordeal.  There is no doubt that my situation is ideal compared to some… it is still taking time for me to adjust, and the way I deal with processing issues is downloading my thoughts into my blog (you must sanitize your hands when leaving my brain).

Also, yes, I realize that Facetime is being used commonly to communicate.  I find it to be very similar to having a conversation with a girlfriend in grade 11 over the phone.  You are constantly interrupting each other by accident, making small talk about nothing, and struggle with when it’s time to hang up.  If I’m going to partake in a (buddy) date it will be while enjoying a pint of Guinness, asking for the bill when it’s obvious that the hangout is done (two empty Guinness glasses)… this is my preferred type of hangout.  You shake their hand or give them a hug and wander home feeling a bit better about the world.

(virtual) Cheers to hoping things get back to normal sooner rather than later.

Stay safe out there!

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Sitting in a Steamroom with Roger Gaston

The world of the selfie is strange.  “Here I am sitting on a couch – well I’m thinking I should take a picture of myself and pot it.”  Could you imagine doing that before the smartphone?  Take the film into the camera place and it’s just headshots of you.  The camera shop dude would probably think that you are either a model or an actor.  “Nope, just felt like taking a picture of my face after finishing an episode of ‘Cheers’ – might put it up on the fridge even.”

Joined the gym again – I’m back at Movati.  It’s got a few nice bonuses there.  There’s a pool, hot tub, steam room, sauna, smoothie bar, basketball court, etc… So far the steam room is the place with the most entertainment.  Old dudes just don’t give a fu** – the towel is barely hanging on – spreading those legs out for comfort.  Talking politics, weather, sports, or whatever other small talk topics that are common. I’m happy that I need my glasses to see properly.  I sit there with the head down making weird noises that are commonly heard while middle-aged men are attempting to relax.  Like all of the stresses from the week are being put into a puddle on that steam room floor.

Sara and I went to the Dominican over the holidays.  It was a nice week of rest and relaxation.  They offer a VIP package at the resort that we declined.  The extra perks were your own pool area, a bar that only that group could go to, and premium liquor.  While eating at the restaurant I could see into the bar area.  There was a dude sipping a Heineken watching the Bills/Patriots game.  He’d bust out a laugh every so often while chatting with the bartender.  They were having a grand old time.  I envision this man’s name is Roger Gaston from Quebec.  He hunts whales in the winter and owns a sweatshop in China.  Roger, you don’t deserve this luxury.  Sara stopped listening after I started whining about the Heineken being drunk.

End of year benefits season is over.  I still had some wellness dollars left on the last day and needed to use every last dollar.  I’m now the proud owner of a Navage and 3 dozen golf balls.  If you’ve never seen the Navage it’s that crazy device that you put up into your nostrils to clear out your sinuses.  Even a few years back when I saw the commercial I started laughing at how ridiculous it looked.  The bastard works – it’s extremely gross though.  I always wonder if it could pull the crayon out of Homer’s brain from that episode of the Simpsons.

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Neil Peart passed away.  I wasn’t a huge Rush fan but Tom Sawyer really gets me jazzed up.  I think they should rotate the $5.00 bill every five years between Terry Fox, Gord Downie, Neil Peart, and manly (bearded) Justin Trudeau.

The family all pitched in and gave my nephew a Nintendo Switch for Christmas.  Precisely as predicted the first time I saw it being used it was the adults that played it while my nephew had to wait his turn.  “Just one more game Milo…  I know you’ve been waiting 2.5 hours, but this time I swear we’ll let you play it.”

My first real job was delivering a weekly paper to a neighborhood.  As soon as I got the job I thought to myself – I’m going to save 25% of it, give another 25% to charity, and then take the other 50% and spend it on CDs.  My first paycheque was $14.00.  I bought a Florida Marlins hat and then quit that stupid job.

The Lighthouse – 8.6/10

Brittany Runs a Marathon – 8.1/10

Cats – 9.2/10 (I actually didn’t see this movie – this rating is based on how much joy reading the reviews has given me)

As a teenager, I remember getting braces.  There was no option of Invisiline at that point – just grey steel.  Couldn’t they at least make it closer to teeth colour?   “No, no, we need the entire school to know that your teeth were fu**ed up.   Wait until your face gets full of acne as well.  All the bullying will toughen you up Daryl.”

Top 3 things that the majority of children were able to do with ease, but I struggled with it.

3 – Tying my shoes:  It took me quite a bit longer than the average child to pick this up.  I blame being a lefty (pretty shit excuse, I know).  I thought to myself one day.  “Well, I guess its Velcro shoes for life.  It won’t look weird being 38 and rocking grey Velcro shoes will it Mom?”

2 – Climbing a rope:  There were kids that would just whip up that rope in mere seconds.  I’d get two feet up and try to go without using my feet like I was Sly Stallone or something.  There wasn’t a lot of strength in the arms at that point (I lost multiple arm wrestling matches to young children).  I’d jump down and my gym teacher would shake his head disapprovingly.  After a few times, I would stretch my arms while grimacing to try to fake a slight injury.

1 – Going down the stairs like a normal human being:  I would put one foot on a step and then the other foot on the same step.  It would take me twice as long to go downstairs then the average child.  This one still boggles my mind, and I have no explanation for this.