Friday, January 15, 2010


Yesterday, I had the task of deciding and informing a candidate that the fit just wasn't right. I found it entirely unpleasant an experience, even if an educational one. There I was on the phone with a very nice fellow, intelligent, capable. But it wasn't right.

How many times was I the receiver of that information? It doesn't make it easier.

Yesterday, I also received a call that the contract offer for my new project had been approved. I was sent the offerer's "position" for acceptance, because they had to make some modifications, to accomodate an additional cost item they were asking for. Their modification came in the form of a reduction of budgetted hours.

I have no objection because I'll likely be able to realize some cost savings elsewhere, without having to compromise the hours needed to accomplish the tasks. For one, I have accepted offers from two new hires, at a slightly lower pay scale than I had budgetted for (assuming I might need to negotiate with them). Those two employees are starting in about a month. One more full-time position remains open.

This contract is structured, unlike the two-year, as a fixed price contract, meaning I invoice based on the work accomplished rather than my expenses. So it all works out in the wash. I expect the contract itself this afternoon for my signature.

I expect the big two-year contract to arrive within the next two to three weeks. As far as I understand, everything has been approved. We're just waiting for the various signatures and processing to take place before the final draft is presented to me.

I'm ready for the transformation, if but a bit apprehensive about the changes. A few years ago, I was salivating over a possible dean's post at a community college, which there was a snowball's chance in hell I'd get. Now what I've got, in just about all measurable terms, exceeds what that position had to offer.

I wrote then about how it might side-track me from my mid-term goals. Now I've met them. I looked at that pay scale then as all but unattainable. Now I've exceeded it. I worried about being a manager. Now, I'm not only the manager, but the chief executive.

But the real transformation is about to begin. I crawled into this cocoon a caterpillar. The next two years will see if this butter can fly.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

The Ultimate Answer to Life

Today... I celebrate my 42nd birthday. If you're not (yet) a fan of Douglas Adams work, you should know that 42 is, in fact, the Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything.

Friday, January 8, 2010

More Interviews, More Life

I was saying the other night to RocketMom that my professional life today is better than I imagined when I entered graduate school, better even than I imagined when I completed the PhD. I thought I'd go to school, write my dissertation, marking off some niche of research interests, present my conference papers, publish some articles, a couple books; I'd get a professorship somewhere, moving up the ranks from Assistant to Associate, maybe Full Professor some day, possibly Chair or Dean; I'd teach my requisite 2 or 3 classes per term, sit on a few (too many) committees; advise students (sometimes invigorating, sometimes depressing); and continue on, adding interests, classes, or assignments here or there, dropping those that fail to hold my (or others') attention.

But here, now... I'm free, and involved. My research projects are self-directed, though with ever an eye to market needs (however that market is defined). What are the real world problems out there that touch on my research interests (there are many!)? Which of those can I bite off and chew? Which of those can I attack and resolve? How can I present my work to convince others to support that research, that I will succeed in the effort? So far I've done a pretty good job at that.

Yesterday, I held my second daylong interviews session. The first one, in November, resulted in one new full-time hire (starting this Spring). Hopefully yesterday's session will result in one or two more new hires. I am decided on an offer to one of them; the second I'm still deliberating over. It's all in my hands. That's a burden, and a pleasure.

We passed through the agency accounting audit with "no major deficiencies" noted. Everything is moving into place; everything is just clicking. I'm no longer really waiting for the bad news to arrive. But I am curious whether it'd even perturb me at this point. It's like having the car you always dreamed of, but understanding that it may get a scratch or a bump now and again.

At a recent entrepreneurship gathering, I developed a new image of my relationship to the business. I used to think of my business as being coterminus with my research. But I decided a better image is that the business is the vehicle I drive to carry me and my research from one location to the next. There may come a time when I outgrow the transport, take my things out of the trunk, and pass it along to a new driver, or the junk yard. For now, the vehicle is quite dandy. I think I can handle a few dents and dings.