Life, Stories told

What I did on my summer vacation

It feels like summer break is ending today. It’s because when I was a kid, school started the day after Labor Day (as God intended). Even though I haven’t been in school in decades, today still feels like the end of summer break to me!

But this year, I really did get a summer break, thanks to my employer realizing the first of June that it couldn’t afford to pay me anymore. I was cut loose, and suddenly I had a lot of time on my hands. It turned out to be wonderful! Here’s what I did with my time:

  • Networked, networked, networked. I knew networking would get me back to work fastest, so I had coffee, lunch, or drinks with someone every weekday — sometimes 2, 3, or 4 meetings a day. Several people I know introduced me to people in my industry whom I didn’t know. One of those introductions led to the job I started the first of August.Schwinn Collegiate
  • Worked a consulting gig. One of those networking meetings also led to a short-term, part-time job advising a software startup. I worked alongside them, evaluating their processes and learning what their pain points were. And then I gave them a lot of advice from my experience about how to ease that pain and execute more strongly.
  • Slept in. Whenever I didn’t have an early networking appointment, I snoozed until 8 or 9.
  • Rode my bike and took long walks. My work- and stress-load had been affecting my health. I’d gained weight and my digestion was seriously out of whack. I felt bloated, sluggish, and tired all the time. So I got out my bike and put on my walking shoes to shake the cobwebs out of my muscles.
  • Took a lot of photographs. I slung a camera over my shoulder on most of my walks and clicked away. I even got to try the color-film processing at Roberts Camera, a longtime Indianapolis photo store. They recently moved to a Downtown location that’s easy for me to reach. It was great to have scans back in a day or two, rather than in a week or two by mail!

I am so relaxed! I can’t remember any other time in my adult life when I’ve felt so little stress. Money wasn’t even a major worry thanks to landing that consulting job.

And the company where I landed has such a laid-back atmosphere. People work hard, but are trusted and encouraged. This is so refreshing after the pressure cookers my last two jobs were! I feel like I’ve stepped into a brighter, healthier future.

But my summer experience planted an idea seed. Advising the startup was great fun. And through my networking, I heard it over and over again: you could stay pretty busy and make good money advising software startups all over town. What if? It’s fun to dream and scheme.

But I’m born of working-class roots — working for the man is my norm, my default. And I’m mighty introverted — I can sell myself in occasional short bursts, but marketing myself all the time is not natural to me. So I will keep networking to build my contact universe and become known in the software startup community. If I can’t manage that, I’d never make it as an independent consultant.

And even if I can manage it, I might just chicken out. And if so, then I’ve landed a job that looks to be really, really good for me. I am astonished by my good fortune this summer.

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9 thoughts on “What I did on my summer vacation

  1. All in all, sounds like the kind of summer that the rest of us envy just a touch. No jealousy, though, because it was as almost all the product of a good attitude and good choices. A good lesson for those of us who kind of drifted through summer on autopilot.

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    • The good attitude was forced at first. Not having any income does tend to freak a man out. But there was no time for any out-freaking; I had to get on with finding my next gig. And then all sorts of good things happened to make the optimism come naturally.

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  2. Your last line : I am astonished by my good fortune this summer.

    Who’d have thought a few months back that in September you’d be writing that. Or maybe you did know, because you’ve managed to retain a wonderfully optimistic attitude this summer.

    Whatever the case, I’m really pleased that things have worked out so well. You seem like the sort of chap who deserves it,

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  3. When/if you feel led, I would not hesitate to launch your own business. When I got out of law school, I naturally gravitated to the public service jobs — public defender, prosecutor, etc. The bills were paid, and the salary included health insurance and retirement. But when I moved to Montana in 1996, I couldn’t find any of those jobs, so I was forced to “hang out my shingle” and go into private practice. It was the best thing I could have ever done. Turns out, the early public jobs gave me tons of Courtroom experience and confidence, and I found out I was a pretty dang good lawyer! I was “in the black” immediately, and I’ve never looked back. Private practice brings 10x the money I earned in the public sector, and I am my own boss. I have to pay my own health insurance and save my own retirement, but nothing is more rewarding than being in charge of your own destiny. Best wishes in all your endeavors, and cheers to Labor Day and the end of summer!

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    • Let’s just say that the kind of work I do today probably pays a ton better than public-sector lawyering! I’d be perfectly happy to hold steady with my current standard of living after hanging out my shingle. The feeling of freedom I’d gain would be the real payoff. I have some desire to devote more time to the church, and this might allow it.

      I have a lot of anxiety about whether there really is enough work out there to meet my needs. I’m sure I’m oversimplifying your life a lot but it seems like people are always in disputes that need lawyers to sort them out. The arch-risk-averse part of me feels certain that word of mouth will not even remotely be enough to keep selling my software quality services, and I’ll have to spend a lot of my time selling. That right there is the one thing that could totally undermine this idea for me.

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  4. Walter Czyz says:

    From reading how busy you were with all those coffee shop meetings, being introverted is the last thing I’d call you. But you do what you have to do, have you considered acting? : ) When I used to manage at Best Buy, employees never believed me when I would tell them I was shy and introverted. NEVER. I explained it was part of the position to be outgoing, lead morning meeting with the open employees and monthly all-store meetings. They simply thought I was being funny every time the topic came up.

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    • I’m not an extrovert, but I play one at work, much like you. My leadership roles call for high engagement, so that’s what I give. I need a lot of quiet downtime in the evenings to recover.

      And I’m no actor. Sounds dreadful!

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  5. I’ve been feeling a wee bit sad this weekend as the summer comes to a close. I’ve enjoyed five days off, but am getting a little tense as the sun goes down on this day. And I love my job! So glad it didn’t take you long to land a good gig. Here’s to a happy autumn for both of us!

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