I was thinking about this story today and thought I’d share it. Perhaps someone can get some value from it.
Once upon a time, I was a young girl of 23 or so with a new job at a company that sold advertising for newspapers around the U.S. I was hired by a really neat woman, definitely a mentor in those days, to replace a secretary and quickly began taking on more and more responsibilities as she realized that I was kindofa smart cookie. In fact, this was the place where I found a computer in the corner with dBaseIII on it and taught myself how to use it. But that’s a different story. Eventually, this boss got pushed out of her job and replaced by a guy brought in from California who quickly had the company move one of his favorite employees, another young woman about 5 years older than me, to New York to take the job I should have been given.
A few months later, it was time for my first annual raise/review. I had been hired to replace a secretary and my job had evolved to something much bigger than that. I was given a $1,000 raise. After some discussion, the offer was raised to $1,500.
Within a week, I had found another job with a 30 year-old wunderkind advertising guy (Todd Boersma, are you still out there somewhere?) who recognized my potential and hired me for a job that was waaaay over my head. He had advertised for someone with 3 or 5 yrs of experience and I had zero. Who knows why I even called about the job, but that’s just how things work out. So having been made this great offer for a cool company (associated with the American Museum of Natural History), with what I recall to be an $8,000 or maybe more increase over my current salary, I went back to my employer and gave them my two weeks notice.
(To quote a friend🙂 “And then the phone rang”. Well, not really. The president of the company, who I had thought of as a nice kind of father figure, called me into his office. He offered me a new position with a $10,000 raise to stay. I don’t know where on earth this instinct came from as I was only 23 or 24 and not fond of conflict, but I said no. I thought that it was too little too late. It showed me that in fact they *had* recognized my work and my value, but had explictly chosen to try to keep me on the cheap. I didn’t trust what may lay down the road if I stayed.
But then a very interesting (and scary) thing happened. This father-figure president of the company turned into Mr. Hyde. He totally turned on me and said “you owe us” (I did? really?) in a very threatening way. Hmmm, trying to woo me into staying, eh? I held my ground somehow, made it through the last 2 weeks and went off to work for Natural History Magazine for a grand two years.
Interestingly this happened one more time in my career. I had been at Playboy advertising for 2 years and again, evolved my job into much more than I was hired to do. When my boss left, I was looked over for his job and they hired a completely inept guy to replace him. I was basically doing his job. After four months of this, I found another new job with another brilliantly wonderful guy (David Yakir, I know you are out there :-)!) and gave my two weeks notice. Once again, I was called into the office of the biggest whig in the office. This was a guy who I liked and respected enormously and he had been a Navy Seal. I was offered a huge raise to stay, but said “thanks SO very much. I really appreciate it. But I have already made a commitment to the other company.” Rut roh. Did I forget I was talking to a professionally trained killer? Once again, I got the “YOU OWE US HOW DARE YOU LEAVE” totally frightening rebuttal that definitely made me very happy to hightail it out the door two weeks later.
I just can’t understand how anyone can think that intimidation is a benefit in the work place.
And here I sit in my home office. Though the view has changed over time, I have been happily self-employed for some fifteen years.
Sign up for my newsletter so you don't miss my conference & Pluralsight course announcements!