Company and Privacy

Tomorrow (March 8) will mark exactly one year since I changed jobs. It seems completely impossible that one year has gone by so quickly, but the numbers don’t lie. Many of my friends ask me how it’s going and if I think I made the right move. As you might imagine, sometimes it takes a year – or even longer – to know for sure if you’ve done the right thing when you make a job change. Making a change that dramatic can be traumatic. Me? Hell, I consider myself lucky that I elected to make the change. Not a lot of people seem to be able to do that on their own these days. So almost every day, I thank my lucky stars I even have a job.

The answer to the question, by the way, is a resounding, amplified, loud YES. Believe me, there are still days when I feel like I’m walking through the dark woods with little-to-no guidance, but for the most part I must say the move has been insanely positive, exciting and of course educational, but professionally and sociologically. There haven’t been many days when I wanted to get back to the utter comfort of what I did before, to slink back into the old chair at Ask and just put it on robot. That happens when you do something for nine years – it becomes robot. So you rust it out and move on.

So, that thing about walking through the dark woods – I think this feeling is amplified when I think about where I came from – a larger organization with a lot of processes in place.  I spent nine years there and Ask in 2001 was actually a lot like where I am now:  a younger, leaner, wild-west of a place. When Ask was bought for 2 billion bucks in 2005, everything changed. My job itself didn’t change much, but the company around me most certainly did. It matured. Fast.

I spent an additional four years there after the acquisition and, all told, ended up learning a TON and soaking up an environment of extremely smart, creative, driven people. People whom I sometimes miss daily. When I think about Ask, I never think “boy, I miss that job.” Because I don’t. Not because I didn’t like it, but because I didn’t really feel challenged there anymore. It was like throwing on that old, comfortable college sweatshirt during my last year, which by the way, was one of my most successful years there. I, like the old sweatshirt, was completely functional, but worn out, frayed – and, yeah, time for something new. So when I think about Ask now, I think about some of the really fun times I had there with really great people. The frustrations and crap fade away with time. Much like life itself, it’s the relationships that matter most. I don’t keep in regular touch with many people there, but I do occasionally drop in for a hello on chat or email from time to time. It’ll be fun to hang with them again when the situation presents itself. And it will.

The new job? I guess I can’t call it the new job anymore, can I? The last year has been a seachange, learning to navigate the sometimes choppy and sometimes smooth waters of an entirely new set of heartbeats. Retail is an interesting beast, let me tell you. I was on the ground floor of the Newbury Comics internet business for about a year back in 1998-99 and that’s the extent of my retail experience, other than working in a mall record store in high school in 1988-89. As you imagine, though, given my interest in hockey, the perks are lovely. Many people ask me if I am sick of hockey yet. No, I am not at all.

Ten years after Newbury Comics, at this time last year, I plopped into the chair of Marketing guy (online and offline) at one of the country’s largest hockey and lacrosse retailers. Niche retailing, they call it. I’m still learning every day. I learn from my boss. I learn a LOT from our store managers, whether they know it or not. I learn from my co-workers. And I sincerely hope they learn from me, because I do believe I have a lot to share. Geez, I hope they feel the same.

Anyway, isn’t that what life is about? Learning. Learning about work, about people, about everything. Tonight I had to explain to one of my children what “company” is. In the process of potty training, he has learned what “privacy” is, so in the context of one of those conversations, the subject of having “company” came up (as a quick sidenote, my boy has only requested privacy on the potty once, otherwise, it has required my or Steph’s, um, company). So I had to tell my son what” company” was and the only thing that popped into my head was to tell him “company is when you need someone with you.”

I have to say, needing someone with you is a statement for the ages, whether it applies to work, home, or friends. There are the very rare people you meet in life who are truly, completely satisfied being alone. Think about that for a second. How many people do you know who are 100% happy by themselves? Not many. Company is what it’s all about. Be it your spouse, your co-workers or your friends, company is what makes most people’s world’s tick. When you look back on it all, you’re sure as hell not going to think about all your jobs, are you?

I know I won’t. But I can tell you this: I love my job. And I love company. Am I making any sense? I’m not sure.

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