Okay. You have put in your 10-15 years as a Human Resources apprentice. In reality you know just about all you are going to need to know about policies and procedures, best practices (eckkkkhhh), compensation and benefits. And this includes you recruiters. If you don’t know all you need to know after ten years, then you’ll never learn it. If you are still haunting job boards and posting jobs to find candidates then you are probably a lost cause.
So far you have been working at job-jobs. These are jobs that you take to put food on the table, pay the rent (or mortgage) and buy a new car. The usual stuff.
Somewhere along the line it occurs to what you might do if money were no barrier. In other words, what type of work would you choose to do if you had your cost of living covered? Sort of like retirement. But earlier.
You need to abandon working at job-jobs and man up (or woman up).
Evaluate your present job. Ask yourself the following questions.
Do you have a high enough level position so that you are well compensated as far as salary and bonus are concerned. I have found that compensation below a VP level drops off sharply. Director is okay (we all can’t be VP’s) but you may have to do 3-4 “good” director jobs to make what you do in one VP job.
Are you banking (saving) money. This includes personal savings and 401K.
Have you received stock shares in a significant amount. Significant for the purpose of this exercise equals at least a million dollars. The million is calculated on the difference between potential sale price and your strike price. For example if you were granted 100,000 shares and your strike price was $2 and the potential or real price is $12 then you have a million dollar play.
12 – 2 = 10 x 100,000 = 1 million dollars. You can do the math. if you were granted 30,000 shares then you had better hope the stock goes to $33.33 to make your million.
Yeah you are going to have pay taxes on the proceeds but that is another story.
Is the company viable? Usually to get a significant amount of stock the company will have to be private on the way to an IPO or sale. Once a company matures, employees below the executive level just don’t get that much stock. That qualifies it as a job-job. In any case take a hard look at the company business model and prospects to evaluate the chances of success which is usually one of two exit strategies. Either go public (IPO) or the company gets sold.
In other words, know the exit strategy. Evaluate the reality of that strategy.
In the 1990′s it seemed every company was going public. Now after the bust of 2001-02 and the hard landing of 2008, less and less companies are going public and more and being sold. Instead of stock getting an “X” factor of 2-4 times the number of shares you were granted, it often goes the other way. You get 100,000 shares and before you go public you end up with 10,000 after a reverse split. Someone once told me that if you can’t figure anything else out then know this. The number of shares is the second most important factor is gaining wealth. The price of your shares is number one. But barely.
2. If you don’t have enough equity then go someplace else.
One friend complains about his job all the time. He is under-appreciated. He is low balled on stock. They haven’t made him a VP yet even though other people in the company have told him that he should be the VP. Well, everyone but the CEO who in reality is all that matter. I think he is still a manager. Then they promote him but he is still a manager. Then they give him more responsibility but he is still a manager.
I would have been gone a long time ago. But then it takes very little for me to leave.
Reminds me of the infamous grade 12 (highest level of manager) in Finance at Sun Microsystems. Managers would reach that level and often stay there for years with the director title being dangled just out of reach. But it was the carrot that kept alive the hope that one day the manager would indeed become the director.
The powers that be would move people around always with the promise that this next assignment would be the gateway to the next level. But for most, it just never happened. What surprised me the most was not that they didn’t make it but that they didn’t get it. They didn’t get how they were being manipulated. Now, that being said, grade 12 at Sun back then wasn’t a bad place to be. You got to work in one of the finest finance departments in the valley. But the smart ones left and became a director someplace else. The really smart ones knew how to game the system and get promoted but they were only marginally smarter than the ones who left.
My friend, the forever manager, is typical. Hard, hard worker. But no balls. Won’t take a chance. The best animal in the zoo.
Yes, a zoo animal.
He is way smarter than I am. But I had balls.
But I was a director 4 times and knocked back 3 times. 3 different companies. Each time the message was the same. Oh, we like you but you are just not director material. Maybe they were right. Maybe they were wrong. I just moved on.
Then I became a VP. No one knocked me back.
Then I made a paltry million.
Job titles are currency. They come and go. They are only yours for the time you are in a company. You can’t really pass it on to the next person. You may think you have bequeathed it but the truth is that the next in line will do it different. They will morph your presence and style into something different. It’s their turn. One of the reasons I never look back. Certainly not to see who is doing my job. I may look back now and then for the lessons learned but never at my successors. It’s their turn.
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