Sunday, November 18, 2007

I got a call

Just a little while ago, I got a call.
Hello, this is [Geoffrey Bannon] from [Miwla College]. I'm on the search committee for [Interdisciplinary Post of Interest]...
You can guess the rest, eh? I'm on their long short list, and they'd like to set up a telephone interview (for the week after Thanksgiving!). Somehow I need to sleep between now and then.

Rocket and I had a "date" last night. D put the boys to bed. We had planned to have an early dinner, then head out, but as it turned out, we left the house around 8:30 (normal lights out for the boys). Ah well, it was a nice dinner together. We drove to the mall, and looked over movie listings. Nothing really caught our fancy, so we walked, and sat, and talked. We like doing that.

One thing we decided was... where we're going to move (at least the rather narrow region). It's really an oblong rhomboid defined by the location of three airports, and the highways connecting them, centered on a small lake not too far from Lake Michigan. Miwla College lies on the southwestern corner of the rhomboid. Somewhere in that region will be home to us for the next 3-5 years at least.

Okay, I'm still excited about this post, and feeling rather elated that they called. The funny thing is, I'm split down the middle as to whether getting the post would be better or not getting it. But they called. That's validation, to some extent. I had been saying to Rocket, if they don't call, there's something wrong with them. I know the strength of my letter (Lilian, Rocket, feel free to chime in here!). For the first time in ~150 applications, I've been able to tear off the mask and just say, Hi, it's me, look, see, I'm just right for you guys.

But, I'll be fine -- we'll be fine if it doesn't pan out. It's really good to have made the decisions about where and when. Nicely, Miwla College would fit. Either way, I'm ready to make a splash. Waiting to hear back from my programmers, though.

I got an email from one of them yesterday, with a (badly worded) 7-page legalistic document intended to be our hiring agreement. Um... no, I wrote.
Here's my principal concern: I have no intention to sign any agreement that supersedes or annuls protections to my own intellectual property. My expectation is a work-for-hire agreement between the two of you and me (since the three of us are the only parties to the confidentiality agreement). As such, the software that you produce and provide to me in accordance with the specifications and scenario documents, any other related documents, emails, and discussions, is the property of [Research Firm]. That is, the product in the form of software you produce is the item I'm purchasing from you as per our agreement.
They have some real concerns. They want to make sure that they will get paid fairly, and in accord with my promise to them. And, they want to ensure that should they come up with ideas that expand the work, they'll get credit (and benefit) from that. Fair enough. But, for now, the relationship is an asymmetrical one. I think of it like owning a catering business. I provide the menu and the recipes, and I hire contractors to serve as chef, executing the meal according to my specifications. Their knowledge entails the execution. But I own the recipes and the menu. Should they come up with a novel recipe, great... we'll talk about it then. Meantime...

So, I await their reply. Either way, I'm moving ahead. If I need to learn another programming language, and write the code myself, I will. I'm actually feeling on top of the world. Trick is not to let that confidence produce arrogance. I'd rather hire these programmers to help translate my algorithms into executable code. But, not at the expense of my intellectual property.

The same counts for Miwla College. I am confident, and believe I have much to offer them. But then, I need to work against that confidence coming across too strong to them.

Well, I've work to do. Whatever the next few weeks deliver, that work will be done.

***Updated to say***
I just got an email from my programmers. We've got a conference call set up for tomorrow afternoon. I hope this will all go well, resolving their concerns, and mine.


Lilian said...

I'm SO excited that they called!! That letter was something else, let me tell you, I've never read anything like it before. You really did pour yourself into it and they'd be FOOLS if they didn't give you the chance for interviewing. I'll keep my fingers crossed.

As for the date night, let me say I'm just jealous. No dates here for the longest time... even when my parents were here we didn't do it because we were so busy and already guilty that they spent so much time with the boys. Ah, yes, we did go out to dinner one night, but it was 9:30 and the Thai restaurant I wanted closed at 10... :(

anyway, I'm glad you got things more or less sorted out with the programmers as of your latest post.

ArticulateDad said...

Thanks, Lilian. We'll see how things go. Too bad we can't offer you a night out. A bit too far for us to take your boys on for a time.