Hope and Defeat

Work has been a bit overwhelming lately. I have a million things running through my mind in what I’d like to accomplish to help my team, my manager and myself succeed. With working for a large organization comes with the fun ol’ game of politics. There’s no way for my manager to shield my team from it. The man can only do so much and at times I have to step up to the plate and handle that shit myself. It’s beyond exhausting dealing with that. There are many times where I think about quitting, but what’s really kept me at this job is my team. It doesn’t matter how good the salary or the benefits are. If I come across a team where we have a strong relationship and can work cohesively together, I’m going to ride it out and stick around. I tend to be the voice of reason for my team, the one that encourages positivity amongst each other, etc. Once again, it gets exhausting. I truly do have strong hope that the future of this team will exceed its own expectations. Right now, we’re in the midst of chaos and it really sucks.

Last Friday I had lunch with this director and 2 other designers that’s on his team. We’ve recently exchanged messages via LinkedIn and randomly started chatting about photography. Mind you this guy comes off as a total asshole on the phone. I was hoping meeting in person would change my perception of him. Nope. He truly is an asshole. He had scheduled a lunch for me to meet him and the other 2 people. I showed up to my old office and they were waiting for me in the lobby. I had really low expectations, but from the get go I knew I wanted this lunch date to end…and we weren’t even in the car to the restaurant yet. I’d like to think that I have a generally good sense for people. It’s a rarity for me to dislike someone when we first meet and if I feel like that, that’s a big red flag to me. I really faked it throughout that car ride and lunch. Ugh.

When we got to his car (a BMW), I immediately thought “you’re a tool…”. His license plate is customized and it says “FASTRBMW”. Cringes…He drove like a maniac. During the car ride, this dude was talking MAD shit about some of my colleagues. He spoke of them in a very disgusting way and it was just so harsh. It was so painful to even listen to someone speak like that in general yet alone about someone else. I spoke up at certain points since I strongly disagreed with him about practically everything. We went to this yummy Thai restaurant. I was texting my colleague from my team about what was going on. He told me to order the most expensive thing on the menu lol, which was hard to do because of the cheap lunch specials haha. Generally when you meet people that you just met, you ask each other questions. Nope. Them mofos didn’t care for me but I still generated any kind of conversation with them just to be polite. Finally lunch was over and we headed back to the office. The car ride back was awkwardly quiet. I couldn’t fake it anymore and didn’t bother making any further conversation with them because I just didn’t give a fuck anymore. Once we got back to the office, I shook their hands and thanked them for the lunch and I immediately walked over to my car.

I got on the phone right away with my colleague and filled him in on the details. It was an hour long phone call ranting about this mess and could’ve gone on longer. I am essentially the only person from my team to have met this guy and it’s a big deal because this doofus is suppose to be the one calling the shots on a lot of things. I was hoping to a degree he would prove me wrong, but nope. It was literally like eating dinner with Darth Vader. It was pretty bad. Prior to meeting my team in person, I thought they were pretty nice and cool. That translated in person which was great. But damn…this guy was such an asshole and had no remorse. I realized he’s super insecure with himself with behaving like that. Also, I feel like many execs are condoning this poor behavior. It’s sad.

With that said, I felt so disheartened by having to share all the details with my colleague who is working close with this guy. I really wanted to tell him “hey he’s not that bad after all”, but this fool couldn’t prove me wrong at all. I really wanted to give him the benefit of the doubt, but he was literally like a super villain. I ended the call with telling my colleague that despite this lame lunch with this guy, I still have hope for our team to do well and to not let this fool ruin things for us. I really wanted to make things better for this entire team and it’s hard on me. It’s hard to be the one that’s so hopeful all the time that I’m running low on hope. I think I’m overworked and overwhelmed with the challenges that I’m about to face. I don’t want that to deter my manager, my team and myself from making changes in this organization. Sometimes I feel like I’ve been watching too many Marvel related shows and movies that encourages this hope that I have and maybe it’s true. At the end of the day I just want to defeat the bad guys and let my team win. It’s hard to be strong for everyone and I’m seeing the cracks each day. Yet once again, I still have a lot of hope.

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Hope

As my new manager is still transitioning into his role, he’s recently asked for anonymous feedback from my team and I. There was absolutely no way for it to be anonymous with the feedback that I gave him since it talked a lot about being a remote employee. Plus, the tone gave it away haha. He’s taken the feedback into serious considerate and has immediately acted on it. He’s also started scheduling one on one meetings with the team, which is great. I had my first 1:1 with him yesterday and I really wasn’t sure what he wanted to talk about. All it really said in the meeting invite was to chat, bitch, and to get to know each other.

And at 1:30pm I dialed in and immediately noticed that my boss was on video conferencing, which was another bit of feedback I gave. I am strongly encouraging video conferencing because myself as well as other remote employees don’t want to just be another voice on the phone. Plus, it’s to build a strong presence and productivity level. There he was, the face I had seen 2 months ago in Colorado…and there I was…sitting in my workout clothes with a bare face. We immediately got right into discussing the feedback that I gave him and he thanked for my honesty. After meeting me once, he’s picked up right away how blunt I am and I don’t hold back, which is good because I wasn’t going to try to dance around that shit. I didn’t necessarily roast him in the feedback as he requested, but he liked how I put him in check. I had mentioned about him micromanaging me and how he needs to simply back off and have some more trust in me. I totally understood and knew that he would micromanage me since he doesn’t know me and vice versa. It’s still quite a learning curve for both of us in how we work both independently and together.

He kept asking me who I am and where do I see myself in the next 6 months, 5 years, etc. I told him that I’m just a really simple, straight forward person that is very passionate about what I do. I don’t aspire to be a manager because I don’t want that responsibility. However, I see myself as a strong influencer and leader where I can help guide my team and educate folks within (or outside) the organization. I constantly want to grow and learn which really won’t change in the next 6 months or 5 years. In this industry, it is constantly evolving and you have to be able to keep up and adapt or else you’re screwed. There’s really no time to kick your feet back and be comfortable.

I spoke to him passionately about how I am constantly reading, engaging with folks in the community and figuring out solutions to solve the many issues that we have at this organization. I’ve told him how hard it’s been on me and how I’ve sat at my desk many times being so upset because I care so deeply and I’m frustrated to the core that I can’t solve the problems and fix anything. He heard me loud and clear. He told me how he sees my passionate and all and simply reminded me to not give up any hope in this process. That literally almost made me cry during the video conference. I was very raw with my thoughts and emotions and I’m glad he saw that. I told him I want some recognition for how hard I’m trying since it’s not like he sees me on a daily basis or anything. I showed him the notes I’ve taken, the books I’ve read, mentioned of discussions, etc. He totally gets it which I really appreciated. He actually just finished reading a book that I had just finished reading as well so we bonded through that.

He wants to have 2 1:1’s a week with me to keep the momentum of these discussions going. He told me how the 2 other guys on my team gets UX, but don’t have the passion like I do. He reassured me that he has my back and told me again to not lose hope in what I’m trying to accomplish. It was great to be supported and to have my voice heard. He told me that I should hold him accountable for some of the feedback as well and trust and believe, I have no problem to put his ass in check again…and vice versa. Our 30 minute scheduled 1:1 lasted for over an hour. It was almost a therapy session for not just myself, but for the both of us. The next few 1:1’s will be more about getting to know each other, which I’m cool with. I’ve been really slammed with work and it’s been really stressful for me. To have this discussion right before this work week ends and the company shutdown kicks off, it was definitely good timing. I can start off my vacation time on even better terms with my boss and to be reassured once again that I am not alone.

Shield

I’ve been pretty heads down with work lately. I’m focused on building a strategy of success for my team and how I can help in any way that I can to make things better. I’ve had the chance to meet my design idols, who’s book I was currently reading, and I’ve had great discussions with them as well. They helped me see things in a different perspective and it’s changed me in some ways in how I operate. It’s helped pave this leadership path that I am on. They were just super inspiring people that I’ve met and it has made a pretty large impact on my career. By no means am I trying to become a manager or a director. However I do see myself as an influencer…if that’s the right term to use. I’ve immersed myself in design books where it speaks a lot about leadership and whatnot, and I’m loving it. I spend 2 hours towards the end of my work day to read as much as I can. There’s just so much information that I’m trying to absorb and to take into action.

A few weeks ago my friend had this girl’s night dinner and it was fun. My design idol showed up too which left me foaming at the mouth lol. I wanted to get to know her more since she really is such an amazing person both in the design community and outside of that. Our discussions varied on so many things and oddly we can all relate to whatever was being discussed. Anyways, at the end of the night I realized how diverse this group of women are yet we were all on the same page. There were major age gaps between us, different occupations, mothers, wives, singletons, etc. It was just such a strong group of women to be around especially during that time where I felt so down about the guy, I really needed this.

I’ve thought a lot about where I’m standing now and where I was just a month ago. To some degree that cut is still open a bit and I’m still hurt. I am much better today in a sense where I’ve been able to lead and pretty much kick ass where I need to. I am proud of my efforts and my dedication in what I need to get done especially for my career and my team. I know this might happen again since I still have doubts, but I don’t ever want to be in that position again where a guy has made me feel like that. It was a lot on me and it was so draining. It has been quite some time where I had gotten that vulnerable for someone and it was just too painful for me. To even say out loud to him and even my close friends, “I like you” was a huge deal for me. It takes a lot for me to evenĀ  say that since I’m quite selective in who I even crack the door open for. He made me feel so terrible as if he slammed that door so damn hard in my face. It was too much for me. I’ve built my walls back up to shield myself because I can’t allow this to happen again. At least not right now. I am so focused and I can’t be distracted. I need time to trust again and I need to protect myself.

Taking the Lead

I’ve been at my current job for over a year and right now I’m facing a lot of challenges ever since my boss’ departure. One of the biggest things that’s bothered me the most is not meeting my team, who are all based in Colorado. It’s a bit pathetic that I have to beg and nagging is not my style. I had reached out to my current ‘boss’, who is my previous boss’ boss. I had sent him an email with a pretty reasonable request. Basically asked homeboy if I could visit my team for better collaboration since we get along so well in our chat channel and to lead by pushing the user experience even further in the next upcoming product release. It’s been almost a month since I’ve written that email and homeboy has not answered me. Once again this is not an outreach program. I’ve been beyond frustrated and it sucks, which has also led me to applying to jobs elsewhere. I don’t see the harm in applying while I’m still employed. However, I had a call with this start up and they seem VERY interested in me. Having a meeting with one of the execs via Google Hangout so that’ll be interesting.

Although I am at the door and with it cracked ever so slightly, I’m not afraid to leave if I have to. But I love my team and I’m embracing my current challenges in a positive way as much as possible. So in light of that, I booked my flight and hotel today to go to Colorado in the next upcoming weeks. I’ve had discussions with several folks on my team to hear their thoughts about me coming to visit and of course they want me to come, but I want to make this as productive as possible. I don’t even know if I’ll be able to get this expensed since I’ve personally funded this travel myself. Regardless, I’m making a huge investment not only for my team and my job, but for myself. I asked one of my colleagues what they think our current boss will think of me just booking my travel and showing up to the Colorado office. He told me he thinks he’ll be impressed with my determination. That made me feel good about my decision and pulling that trigger.

This evening I wrote a message to this woman that I had met at a design event. She’s incredibly smart and just all round awesome. I was very impressed with how she took the initiative and went to another country (with her own money) to get her user research work done. She returned with great results which saved the company lots of money and in return she was able to get this trip expensed. There’s somewhere in the story where she racked up a $20K bill, and the company paid for that. Lucky girl!! Anyways, I sent her a message telling her how inspiring she is with sharing that story with me along with providing helpful tips in how to tackle on this one project that I was doing. I thanked her for giving me that kick in the ass for me to do the same as her, except I don’t think I’ll go over $20K in expenses haha. I thanked her for being such an inspiring contributor in the design community. I never write shit like this to anyone, but I’m sure anyone would appreciate a nice message like that.

I’m currently in the works of writing an email to inform my boss of my decision. I can’t get in trouble for trying to do my job, so whatever. Plus I’ve never been to Colorado so it’ll be nice to visit even though I’m keeping it primarily business focused. I thought about extending my stay into the weekend, but that’ll be for another time. This trip will determine if I want to stay any longer at this company so we shall see. I’m really doing my best to take the lead as much as possible and I hope my work and efforts will make some kind of impact or get any kind of recognition. Shit, I better…

Taking the Lead

I plan on being pretty heads down in my work this week as I’m preparing to lead a very important usability test. I’ve never had to do this and I just want to make sure that I don’t fuck it up. I just want to make sure that I ask important questions, take down the right notes and pretty over moderate the entire session correctly. I’m extremely stressed out and scared about how it will go. I’ve asked my old team who has much more skills in this department for some advice. I’ve noticed how lethargic I’ve gotten during the past couple of days and I’m trying to snap myself out of it. I’ve been extremely tired and sleepy and the thing is, I’m literally not doing much. At all. Pathetic, I know.

I’m trying to manage my stress better since I feel so much pressure from work. I went for an hour walk at the park after dinner to destress. I’m trying to stay focused and get it together before end of the week for when the session happens. I just really want to prove to people at work that I’m stepping it up and that I am good at my job. As a nice incentive, today I booked a hotel for this weekend. It’s the same hotel right on the water by the beach, which I’m really excited for. I definitely want to squeeze it some time in the sun before things start to get really hectic for me where I won’t be able to go as the summer is coming to an end.

Shafted

As I’m working from home right now, I just found out that I will no longer have a cube at work. W-T-F?!?!?!@?@#%?#$^#$ Not fucking cool. I get it that I’m not in as often, but c’mon…really? WTF?!! Granted I work from home pretty often, but it’s still nice to have that option. Now if I ever want to go into the office, I get to use a stupid privacy room or an anchor desk. Seriously fuck that. If that’s the case I might as well stay my ass at home. This just really set me off and only encourages me to really update my portfolio this week and to start applying to other jobs. I didn’t sign up to be a full time remote employee. Absolute bullshit. Working remotely is a great perk, but it’s fucking 2017 for crying out loud. A LOT of companies let you do that so it’s not like it’s out of the ordinary. I just don’t feel valued and I feel really blindsided. I immediately emailed the director about this since he failed to tell me about this. Ugh! Apparently I have until September 7th to clear out my cube. Luckily I don’t have much there. I’m debating on taking my monitor at work with me. Guess I have to start really organizing my desk at home for this accommodation. Absolutely annoyed.

This is bullshit…

Escape Plan

I’ve been pretty down about my boss leaving, work in general and my health. Last night I got together with a few people from my old team for drinks. I haven’t had a drink in quite some time but it was much needed. We got to catching up and throughout the whole time I felt more like myself again. I gave them all very big hugs and got on my way home. Once I got home I felt this relief because of how supportive and encouraging they are. I woke up this morning feeling motivated. I really wish we could all work together again. For now I got to figure my shit out.

I should try to stick it out another year at this job. I really don’t want to keep bouncing around and go through the job search and interview process again or for at least any time soon. Plus I love the stability and benefits of this job but I know other places can offer me even more. However, I had updated my resume last week and have a list of projects to add to my portfolio. Gonna design some updated business cards. I’m doing all of this in case I decide to jump off board this ship. I’ve also considered the idea of transferring to a different team or requesting a location transfer. Gonna have a talk with my boss about that before he goes.

I’ve browsed at jobs on LinkedIn and there’s some good stuff out there. I’m a bit hesitant to pull the trigger because as I mentioned I don’t want to be job hopping. I might reach out to a contact that I’ve through networking and friends for feedback on my portfolio. I just feel like my portfolio is alright and could be pushed further to its potential. I’ll spend some time browsing at other designer’s portfolios to see what I can improve on. Also side projects are important for me to include but that is literally another job in itself.

Overall, I know what I need to get done if I want to stay at this job or leave.