The original words of Phanes, tirelessly carved into a slab of "No'".

“CIO Event” or “Take your Kid To Work” Day?

Did some cool stuff this week but man am I tired.

CIO Cybersecurity Event in Columbus

During my search for my next contract or job, I found a neat staffing company whose name I won’t divulge. I saw an opportunity to find placement or details to build a career growth plan so I hounded them.

Coincidentally, they were hosting a cybersecurity event for intended CIOs in the area and I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to attend.  Coincidentally… 🙂

As somewhat of a grey hat, historically, looking to step away from the keyboard, there was an element of delight to finding myself in a room with a magnificent selection of global IT Leadership without anyone knowing who I am, so I adamantly requested attendance as a networking opportunity and totally made my way in, participated as a CIO, asked great questions, got great answers and got some real insight into the mind of a CIO.  I was surrounded with around 30 of the most powerful IT leaders in the world and I was the only person in the room who wasn’t a CIO? Impossibru!

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What I was most delighted about was that they took a picture of the back of my head, the only proof I have that I was there.

Yup.  Really happened.  I’m actually very grateful for the insight I was able to gain there just from listening to the questions, comments, concerns during an open dialog with all these IT leaders — many of which were representing Fortune 100 enterprises.

I found the organizational leaders much more receptive to my independent contractor status, many of which were impressed by my ability to hold together on my own as long as I have.

One thing I did notice, which I found pleasantly surprising was how quiet and reserved the group as a whole was.  The presenters made it clear at the beginning they wanted open dialog, and then made their presentation, however, the audience, presumably due to cultural reasons, was reluctant to speak openly initially so an ice breaker was needed.  So you can see me there in the photo asking my questions politely and setting the precedent for interactions– I would rarely ask other questions of the audience themselves to quietly shift the tone to the interactive nature the presenters wanted, for audience members to talk to each other as well and it was a total hit and it got them talking which is exactly what I was hoping to see for my own curiosity’s sake.

On that note, maybe taking a role I’m overqualified for so I can have time to collect some high level certs, like CISA, CISSP, TOGAF I & II, ITIL, inter alia, might not be such a bad idea.  I’ll never have time and resources at the same time to otherwise, unless I find a company willing to pay for me to acquire them, and I am not used to being afforded comfort.  Just a passing thought.  I’m so used to getting the shit ends of sticks that I no longer smell the shit on the ends of sticks.

Interview in Nashville, Madness in Chicago

Went to an interview in Nashville.  Disaster.  This was a disaster and it was all my fault.  First, I wake up at 0400 with only 90 minutes sleep as my nerves had jarred me into sleeplessness.  Then, I underestimated the amount of time it would take to get through the security line and missed the plane by 2 minutes despite showing up on time.  I called the staffing agency that had secured the interview for me and explained as they were the underwriters of the trip.  We agreed that I’d get on the next plane out and they’d push the interview back by a few hours but no one was happy about it. In the security checkpoint as I’m emptying my pockets it becomes painfully clear to me that my car keys were no longer in my pocket and that my car was in the long term parking lot collecting fees so a tow or locksmith was not possible, knowing it was going to potentially cost hundreds of dollars I don’t have with no income in sight.  I said some terrible things in my head that I won’t voice here, and decided to move forward and deal with it when I got back.  The rest of the trip is a desperate series of attempts to plug my phone into a wall because my phone no longer holds a charge, so I can reach out to my Nashville contact.

I get off at Nashville and then was worn into the ground from all the energy spent navigating the airports and I don’t feel like I did well at the interview — I certainly was not at my best and I think it was showing.  I found out later that I did quite well, but I can only imagine that this would be a new job announcement instead of an anecdote about the hell of being in between contracts if I’d have just been able to get some damned sleep before this interview.

We talked about the needs, I met some of the staff, hit it off a bit, missed some non-verbal cues, but held my own. Left my wallet on his desk, but I’d made buddies with the cab driver by that point so he was happy to take me back at no charge to get it.  Grinned, tongue in cheek, picked up my wallet.  From there I made it back to the airport, had enough time to fit a sandwhich in my mouth before it was time to be back on the plane, made it out, spent 45 minutes sitting in the plan not moving because of a mixup in Chicago with the gates.  That 45 minute delay caused me to need to rebook for the next flight, so I get to Chicago with a layerover and a chance to very tiredly see Chicago.  I opted to just grab a cigarette, only to find out that Chicago is a corn maze with one way exits everywhere involving area containment, so I needed to walk around the entire airport, go up and down a few escalators, and through security again to make it to my plane just in time.  2 minutes after my plan was supposed to board I hear an announcement that my gate has been reassigned to somewhere on the other side of the airport, and everyone begins their terrible walk of tired misery to gate A2.  While waiting I see an old coworker from my last contract who worked with me on one of my prized accomplishments with that company who I promptly confused for someone else at first and tried to save it by correcting myself to confuse him with a different person who was also not him.  I apologized, explained I was tired, and asked how I knew him.  We talked a bit and he was very nice about the whole thing.

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I get to Columbus from Chicago and it’s 2230.  I reach for my parking stub and find it missing from my pocket.  I go to the security booth and ask if keys had been turned in.  Didn’t know, but knew who would.  I was escorted to a keybox in an obscure floor in the airport that wasn’t visible except from the back maze of corridors, where an office presented a collection of pain and fright in the form of hundreds of lost keys.  It was like the keymaker scene in the matrix.  I saw mine right away and felt like I’d been spared trouble.

I thanked him profusely for existing and dragged my slowly dying self back to my car.  I knew I needed to sleep soon or I was going to be in some real serious trouble.

I get to the shuttle to the parking lot.  He asks where I’m parked and I say I don’t know.  He asks where my stub is and I say I don’t know.  I told him if he helped me find my car I’d give him a tip, but if he was not able to I’d be able to find it on my own by walking.  I was his only passenger on account of how late it was, so he agreed to help.  We chatted a bit, made friends.

I’d made buddies with one of the shuttle drivers on the way in the first time through at 0545 that morning there so we had a point of reference– since I was his only passenger as well, that driver had made it clear that the role they worked was assumptive of tips and that many people were not aware of this, which made it difficult.  I sympathized with it but at the time had no tip to give not on my credit card, and he was not able to accept credit cards.  I promised him a tip on my next way through.

I knew the gist of where my car was, so we made a single pass where I pointed out my car.  I put a 20 in my hand and shook his hand with it and made my way out.  I heard him say “God bless you thank you so much” as I limped to my car.

I got in and wondered if I was okay to drive.  I realized the stub being missing was a problem since this was long term parking.  I gathered my energy and drove to the booth, and explained I’d rented at 0400ish that morning and had no stub.  She checked the cameras very quickly for me and charged me a much lower fee than I was expecting.  I thanked her profusely as I noticed my car was out of gas past the glow of my dying cell phone.  I asked her for directions to a gas station, which she gave in broken English.  I thanked her profusely.

I got to the gas station and then made my way home, where I became a puddle in my home office futon.

ot the word that the Director for the company I’d interviewed with wanted to meet me before deciding.  I said sure and waited to hear back on a time/place.

I sleep for a solid day.  I go to the FBI Cybersecurity event mentioned above, and then today comes.  Today was a disaster that probably ruined all of my plans.

Schedule Conflicts and the joys of Consulting

I had an early morning interview scheduled with another company.

After that interview, I had an afternoon interview, with the company I interviewed for in Nashville to increase my visibility to the hiring company and potentially open up some placement options even more.  Great news.

Went in to the morning interview expecting a 4-person panel style interview but it was actually a battery of 5 interviewers one at a time, which increased the interview time by about 400%.  The interview went well, but I was not given the impression I was able to connect with the ultimate decider.  Meanwhile, my damned phone loses its charge so I can’t check the time while knowing I’m hitting it close to the second interview time (with the company I interviewed for in Nashville).

I get done, shook hands, and I did well, but I don’t think I nailed it.

I get to my car, plug in my phone and see that it’s 24 minutes into my afternoon interview. I light up a cigarette and after a willful clearing of my thoughts to settle my nerves, I think “shit there goes both that offer AND the Nashville offer”.  I call the staffing company.  Understandably pissed.  They’re not interested in rescheduling.  I hear they’re likely to stop talks on the Nashville gig as well as this one.

I explain my interview went over, and they understand.  They understand, but they’re not the hiring party, they’re the staffing company.  The hiring party is the nashville gig and the gig I missed out on today.  I apologize profusely and tell them I did my best and I hope they are still willing to work with me, and that I’m going home to clear my head.  They ask where I am, I say I’m in the nationwide arena.  He says go down and see what happens.  I do.  I get to the lobby.  No one can reach anybody.  I wait in the lobby while making friends with the security guard, where I explain there was a scheduling mixup.

Security Guard:

Nice guy, who is also apparently a Chevy Chase fan, who prefers his Saturday Night Live years to the later movies like “Memoirs of an Invisible Man” or any of the National Lampoon movies, all of which are American classics in our shared opinion.  The manager tells the security guard that they want to reschedule but that I must not have gotten the message, so, that’s not good.  The security guard lets me know and I tell him I understand and that I appreciate his efforts.  I get back to my car, and explain it, I say they want to reschedule but that he may have just been trying to get me out of his lobby. I say I’m going home to clear my head.

So out of necessity and courtesy I didn’t stop an interview, to postpone another interview I may have gotten an offer from and ended up losing two spots I may have gotten an offer from to find that I may not be getting an offer from the interview I displayed the courtesy and tact of having my cell phone unavailable in.

In a few weeks, when I am collecting bottles to trade in for sandwiches I hope that it is warm and that this blog exists still, in case someone finds it and knows why I am in that position.

Update:

The following Monday I was given a second grace and went to a rescheduled interview.  I went, did well, and we’re back on track.

Conclusion:  Almost Bulletproof; Wolverine-like Recovery Ability.

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There is no disaster I am not capable recovering from.  There are stages of environmental influence.  One is in which you have no control at all.  Another is in which you have influence but not complete control to shape.  Another is total environmental mastery.  I’m still in the middle.  It just sucks right now.  Next week is a fresh start with less familiar options.

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The Personal Blog of Chris Punches