Thursday, February 03, 2005

Slip-Sliding Away

The company, that is.

There's talk of getting some bridge money this week, to be followed by a larger investment in the next month or so, blah, blah, blah, but it just seems like so much hot air. We had a three-hour meeting on Tuesday, after which one of my coworkers and I drank beer and griped, and, not surprisingly, the gripes were exactly the same ones we've identified repeatedly over the past four years. A major gripe is that the two of us seem to be the only people who have a full set of vertabrae. Three of our coworkers either say nothing in these meetings or try to put a happy face on everything. The president tries to put a happy face on everything, but doesn't actually listen to the things that get said, or, at least, she doesn't change a damned thing. One of our other coworkers tries to join in, but he's not terribly articulate, and people get lost sometimes in what he's babbling. So it's just me and the one guy, pointing out that the emperor is naked, pointing out the same fucking issues, over and over and over. And, sooner or later, someone will wave his or her hands around, maybe even write something on the board, and poof! everything's all better and all problems have been solved! (The best thing that appeared on the board Tuesday was "implement capabilities." What the fuck could that possibly mean? Really--explain that to me, okay?)

Yesterday we had three hours with one of our customers--someone who has many years in the business, who is very high up in the hierarchy at his current company, who knows a lot about how the business works, etc. On Tuesday we discussed the impending visit, and I suggested (rather forcefully) that we spend some of our time with this person picking his brain about the future of our particular technology in the business in which we're trying to work. We do not have anyone on staff right now who does the marketing thing (my boss does what little's being done, and he's competent at it), and the last person we had was worse than useless--she was downright destructive. In fact, most of the marketing/business development people we've had on board, with one exception, have been completely useless, even though they, of course, garner larger salaries than the grunts. So, given that we had access to an actual customer, it seemed like it might be a good idea to pick his brain, don't you think? See what he thinks about some of the issues I've raised (and raised and raised) in our meetings? (For example--I think there's every possibility that our potential customers will hold off implementing our kind of technology until they can internalize the activities and do it themselves. We don't have or use much of anything that's proprietary, and it's not clear what role our technology will have, so that would be the smart thing. Does this customer think that's likely?)

No; of course not.

First, there were the pleasantries, a half hour or so, which was fine. Then we spent two hours--yes, two hours--presenting some powerpoint slides to him of work we've been doing. Before i launch into the main part of my rant, I have to tell you that this work is interesting--but extremely unlikely to lead to a source of revenue. I have yet to see a business model that shows us getting a single goddamned cent out of what we're doing, and, in fact, it's a significant departure from our "core competencies," even as it uses some of the same physical equipment that we use. So: a sensible person would have sent him this material ahead of time, perhaps with a few pages explaining what we'd done. We might even have sent it to him with a request that we be able to brainstorm on ways we could take what we were finding and learning and utilize it. But are we sensible? Fuck, no. So we spent two hours slogging through this thing. Finally, at 11:35, 25 minutes before he had to leave, I just started asking some of the questions. We didn't get nearly enough time to discuss anything, of course, so, all in all, it was YET ANOTHER OPPORTUNITY WASTED!

And we still haven't gotten our W-2 forms. Yes, I know that's illegal. But you know what else? It was the one thing that was within the CEO's control--to get us our forms early, so we could file for our refunds quickly. (Let's not forget that all of us are missing at least six paychecks, but taxes were taken out as though we'd been paid fully, so most people will get refunds--probably even me, despite some consulting work I did.) And even that was apparently too much.

My coworker with a spine is working at home today (that's become common shorthand for "fuck this; I'm not coming in"), which means I'm going to eat my lunch soon and then leave myself. I also have an appointment for tomorrow afternoon to check out the pastry school I want to attend. I'm absolutely terrified about that, too, I have to tell you--can I do this? am I too old? not good enough? will I be able to find a job?--so it's exciting, but not just that. I suspect that none of you are surprised that I did not fall asleep again after C's cellphone went off at 3:30 am.

2 Comments:

Anonymous J.T. said...

You're never too old or young to attend pastry school. I'm currently at The French Pastry School and in my class we people from the ages of 18 to their late 40s.

Hope that gives you a little push.

2:15 PM  
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