A while back I wrote something on this website, calling out a few cunts from a job I used to work at. Now, I’ll wager most readers know what I’m talking about, but maybe one or two are crying out “Tell us, James! Tell us what company it was?!” But I will not. Let’s call it instead “The Land of High Turnover”.
My words have never been more widely read, then when I decided to name actual names when insulting a few people that contributed to the high level of misery that existed there. It was, apparently, scandalous; also funny. I eventually deleted them for my own reasons, but also motivated by one of the individuals contacting me, man to man, and requesting I do so. No; lawsuits were not invoked, just politeness of a higher caliber than I’m sure I would have done, were the situation reversed.
Today, someone I respect and work with, let’s call him Mr. Superman, is leaving to the Land of High Turnover. Mr. Superman is a developer of the highest quality and leaves today with the mission to rebuild a developer shop that has been decimated by, well, it’s plain decimated. This is not a rant about the place I used to be at, nor why it failed. I have done that, and also I’ve spoken of the reasons why it was a brilliantly talented place full of promise. More importantly, many of the talented people I worked with there quit and/or were laid off [due to solvency issues, not competency]. How could I lay claim to knowledge of what is left of that Land?
Yet many people have asked me, thanks to my public statements, what I think of Mr. Superman decision, and his fate. Here is what I think.
You can do so much more with your life than care about any of that. Thanks to my old blog entry, I had someone who was an immigrant to Canada come up to me, shake my hand and say “I didn’t know you could do that.” That is rewarding. Making you, my friends, smile is worth so much more. Be fearless. Speak truth. Be an example of what is possible.
Just being seen reading my blog was enough to catch shit from the boss at the Land of High Turnover [so I have been told]. I left there quite well respected, by management too. Had I kept my mouth shut, I am positive I could have chosen to follow Mr. Superman back there, been paid more money, and had a chance to fulfill some of the promise it held. I’ve been assured by some that since spouting off at the mouth, I shall never be hired again, certainly there. I closed that door. Let it close.
I’ve been around a while; I can burn off a bit of good karma, or a bridge here and there. And I desire to accomplish more than being afraid of what might happen should I be less than who I want to be. Calling someone “a walking abortion” might not strike you as that noble a purpose, and it wasn’t. But giving a brief voice to the long suffering comments I heard whispered every day was, at least to me, at least in that particular moment, very much worth it. I knew there would be unknowable, terrifying consequences, yet I still spoke out loud. These things have no power over me, nor do they have power over you.
Mr. Superman will accomplish many great things, because he is a great man, and a great developer. He will be hampered at many places, because he was bought at a high price, by a company, and all companies suck. Paradoxically, developers typically suck without the constraints placed on them by a company or similar real world pressures, or the discipline first learned from such situations. Because the Land of High Turnover has paid him a bucket load of cash, they will hopefully be more inclined to listen to him; He will say things that every developer there previously said, and also different new things. Perhaps they will finally listen because he is new, or expensive, or they have learned the failings of listening to their own counsel, or perhaps they’ll ignore him like they ignored prior developers. Whatever. It is the privilege of a car owner to ignore the advice of their mechanics. A synthesis of minds would be better, but ultimately the owner has the money.
Mr. Superman will accomplish many great things, but he’s done what almost every other developer I know has ever done: He has traded one company for another company because they pay him more. Sometimes we quantify things like “The Environment” or “The Technology” as having some numerical value, and make a bit less cash for a bit more fun. Developers who eschew money over such loftier goals have simply assigned a high value to the other concepts. Esoterical things can be more rewarding, but also more fragile. There will be new challenges where a developer goes, because the challenges left behind are old, and stale, or insurmountable, and sometimes the right thing is to give up, because all companies suck, or will.
In today’s market, developers have more options than do the companies that hire us. This will not always be the case. But unchanging is that we all understand each other, and the software development business, better than the companies we will work for. I dance quite well in the corporate world. I do good work and most everyone who’s worked with me will say the same, but not all. You can’t please everyone; don’t try. Do good work, as best you know how, at the time you’re doing it.
I was recently told a developer hired in the Land of High Turnover regularly curses my name. Fair enough, we all hate the code written by the last guy. As I cursed someone else’s legacy, so now does someone curse me. As I praise Mr. Superman on his departure, so too will I be praised when I move on. These are not important things.
Let go of the things that drag you down, they have no power.
And kill the Buddha when you find him on your path.