Wednesday, June 8, 2011
- I'm Available For Speaking Gigs
Since many of you are friends and (former) coworkers of mine, it seems to me I might as well come clean. I’ve entered a sort of hiatus from work. If that sounds vague to you, then I’ve explained it correctly. I’m a little uncertain as to what exactly it means as well. In fact, as they tell me every two weeks or so, so is my employer. Let me give you the dish.
My relationship with my employer wasn’t really an employee-employer relationship in the legal sense. I was what was called an ‘outside manager’. That means I had my own corporation, paid my own employment taxes and medical insurance, and in return my compensation was legally and algorithmically defined by a contract I had with them. I was, in effect, my own hedge fund – a sort of child fund of the firm that employed me.
The larger firm had a number of these contracts with guys like me; a dozen or so I think. It was a little unusual but not so terribly unique to raise an eyebrow. It opened up some interesting tax opportunities which paid off big at the right level, and there were other advantages as well. But cast in the light of all the new financial regulations coming from Washington, it did raise some unexpected gaps between legal liability, and decision making control.
In my particular case that didn't matter much. I didn't raise any outside money, and had only my one business, so it was all pretty straightforward. But it turned out that wasn’t the case for everyone. Another of the outside managers (not me) engaged in what I will for the time being continue to describe as ‘an unapproved activity’ and when the legal department found out about it, they freaked out about a potential exposure and decided to terminate the entire outside manager program immediately. They shut down the profitable strategies with the unprofitable; the legally simple along with the complex. So during a deeply apologetic early morning phone call with my boss, I was shut down too.
I was told in that phone call and multiple times since then that as soon as legal gives them a new procedure for it, they would like to re-establish a working relationship with me on some mutual agreeable terms. Maybe they’ll hire me as a full time PM, or something. They have continued to stake this position and I have never been told anything else by them. That makes perfect sense because I was profitable when I was shut down, and in fact doing very well. And apart from that, I know these guys and believe them to be honorable, so I’m taking them at their word.
But as they themselves have recognized, all they are giving me today is a promise. And in Obama’s America a promise like that and $15 dollars will buy you a gallon of gas. As much as they continue to want to bring me back in, inevitably it will be based on what happens in legal so that leaves a lingering doubt about the outcome. Also, I’m told that legal is a bunch of… well… let’s just say they aren’t very goal oriented. So it could be months before they get their ducks in a row.
So in the meantime, I’m beating the brush to see if there is anyone out there willing to offer me a better deal. Maybe I'll find something at a firm that doesn’t allow the legal department to decide which managers stay and which go. Maybe they will base a decision like that on … oh I don’t know…. performance and the ability to generate profit, or something equally silly like that. I don’t mean to sound bitter. I like the guys at my prior firm. But I think they’re making a huge strategic mistake in who they empower internally, and how they run their business.
So anyway, now that my first round of meetings is finally ramping down a bit, I find I have some time on my hands. Given my past performance I find it very unlikely that I’ll become a member of the chronically unemployed. So instead of freaking out and getting a job the gun counter at Dick’s Sporting Goods, I’m focusing on trying to get the pool cleaned and fixing the landscaping that was damaged by that very harsh winter.
But in the meantime, if your group would like someone to come speak about the intersection of finance and politics, a projection on the markets, or the best tactics for winning against ‘master blaster’ in the thunderdome, (and you’re within about 2.5 hours by car of Redbank NJ) I’ll be happy to come speak gratis. I can do 40 minutes on virtually anything I write about so if that seems interesting, ping me at the email in my bio.
You know how it is… even when you have time on your hands it’s good to stay sharp.