Johnny Cash is Dead…and his house burned down.

I came across this song online and decided I had to get out of my month long funk related to posting.  I’ve been a Johnny Cash fan as long as I can remember.   My dad is responsible for leading me down this path.  I remember listening to  Cash’s albums (yes albums, for those of you who only know music as coming in electronic formats, ask your parents) singing along in the bedroom of my parent’s house. 

I grew up in a small 3 bedroom ranch.  The basement was unfinished when we moved in, but my dad worked during his freetime to build a bedroom, laundry room and sitting area/library.  I shared my bedroom with my brother who is almost three years older than I am.  We were so eager to move into the room that we didn’t wait for the electrical outlets to be installed, but rather used extension cords (hopefully my firefighting brother-in-law will forgive us). 

I can confidently state that while country has enjoyed an explosion into the mainstream over the past 15 years, it is safe to say that in the late 1970’s early 1980’s there were not many kids from the NY/NJ/CT tri-state area that knew all the lyrics to “Folsom Prison Blues”.  I think that being a closet country fan has served me well through the years.

If you enjoyed the song above (or even if you didn’t) here is one of my recent favorite country songs to close out today’s entry.


Span of Control…what’s it all about.

BNET’s definition of “span of control” as follows.

The number and range of subordinates for whom a manager is responsible.  The span of control can be calculated by various methods, which take into account such factors as whether those supervised are doing the same or different jobs and their levels of seniority, empowerment, experience, and qualification.

At a Christmas Party in 2007 -or is the PC term “Holiday Party”, these days I can never tell– someone asked me about my job and after unsuccessfully trying to explain what I did, I prophetically said, in my usual glib -read sarcastic- manner “my job is the job voted most likely to be eliminated in a recession”. 

For me, Span of Control became a major life inflection point 11 months, 29 days, 14 hours, 17 minutes, 55 seconds ago.  On June 3, 2008, I learned that after 13 years of working for the same firm, my position was among those targeted for elimination in a restructuring driven by “span of control”.  I was offered another position, with no managerial responsibilities and no clear definition of what I would be doing.  I had three days to accept the offer.  If I elected to decline, I would receive a severance package.

From a personal perspective, I was upset but not shocked.  Professionally, I agreed with the steps being taking to streamline the organization.  I worked for one of the largest mutual fund companies in the United States, in a group that looked for asset management mandates in the institutional insurance market, primarily in variable annuities and Group Retirement Plans.  My position, like others eliminated, was a luxury.  I manage a small team that served as a liaison between our sales organization and the various centralized business units in our organization.  In theory, my team existed so increase sales productivity by allowing our sales team to focus on external client facing issues and by providing our internal partners a single point of contact within our distribution channel.  All too often, I felt like Admiral Stockdale

One of my mentors in life stressed the need to “control what you can control”.  In taking that to heart, I knew I could never control my future by taking an undefined job just for a paycheck.  Thus, I ended up accepting the severance package offered to me.  I recall stating to my wife “if I don’t have a job by Christmas, I’m an idiot”.  At our annual Christmas Party, one of my wife’s aunts greeted me with a big “Hello Idiot”.  Since leaving the workforce, in addition to seeking new employment, running for school committee, cleaning out the basement and garage, painting the house, re-coating the driveway, and dozens of other around the home tasks, I have toyed with the idea of writing a blog.  Not that I have any major revelations to share with the world, but I certainly am opinionated. 

It’s either this or continue to waste time on achieving fame and fortune running my fantasy baseball team into the ground or achieving high score on Chain Reaction. 

I will close my opening salvo with a comment that if there is an upside to losing your job, it is being able to spend more time with your kids.  In a short time, I have become a master at creating cloth covered books, and know more than I ever did about Michelle Obama, South Africa, Ocelots, and Orcas.  I also realized that I did not fully appreciated how much “work” goes into being a parent and maintaining a home.  To that, I am eternally grateful to my wife, whose patience and calming approach is amazing to see in action. 

I hope that this blog adds value.  However, even if I end up with no followers, at least it forces me to think, read, write, and use the grey matter a bit more often than I have over the previous 12 months.

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