My reworking memory

I quit my first job after six weeks—not before threatening to do so in a couple of occasions—the day my boss came down to my office (announced by wafts of her mothball-smelling perfume) and complained that I was unwilling to let her reformat me. Yes, reformat, like a floppy disk (we still used those back then). That may sound funny, nine years later, but one must understand that I had gotten this job after responding to an ad in the most popular national newspaper, an ad that seemed to have been written precisely for me. The qualities were all there. The selection process was more than an interview, nothing short of an admission test, at the end of which I was picked among forty participants. I was proud of myself. But then I discovered they didn’t care about the skills, they just wanted to reformat me—and I was definitely not going to let them.

My second boss cared more about the money than the ideals he claimed he was driven by. He  liked interrupting his employees with useless meetings and coming up with new ways to wrongly employ people’s skills. On his side he had an uncanny ability to choose (mostly) valid people who wouldn’t say no. I quit after eleven months, during which I had learned what I needed, especially the fact that there was nothing more I could learn—at least nothing that could be of any value to my personal goals. The boss’s last attempt at keeping me in involved comparing me to one of his sons—probably the one who kept refusing to do as daddy said. That sealed my resignation letter.

Then I started a Ph.D. program, during whose first two years I was (not so) kindly asked to forget all I wanted to do, all I could bring to the table, because our boss liked being free to pull stuff out of his ass, in the name of a supposed multidisciplinary approach to communication. We learned very little during that time, but we did learn to love even more what we loved before. The moment the old boss left, I realized I loved comedy enough to spend the next few years studying it—and I did.

During the past few days I read Rework by the guys at 37signals, and although the book is certainly not revolutionary it has made all of this stuff from the past come flowing back to me. It has reminded me once again why I chose to have my own business and not look back even for a second.