Susan Hires a Boss

Final post: Lessons learned

Someone asked me to recap what I had learned in the hiring-a-boss process. Here's a recap post I wrote for The Art of NonConformity contest (didn't win) that covered a few of those lessons.


There many things in life we don’t like as they are.

And the normal reaction? Just to work within the constraints, accept the boundaries, play the game by the rules. But the very crux of the nonconformist life is not to do that.

Instead, change the game, change the rules, change the playing field. Make it a game you can win.

And nothing is more hide-bound by rules than the job search process. Include a cover letter, use the right keywords, have the exact required experience, provide a resume (but how many pages?), fill out the application form, we’ll call you, send a thank you note. Whew. How you’re supposed to get noticed and hired in all that is beyond me.

So how to change the game? How to take a non-conformist twist on finding a job?

Hire a boss instead.

That was my line of thinking as I wrapped up my six months studying with Seth Godin. The mere prospect of putting together a resume and having to send it out for boring job listings just set my teeth on edge. Yes, I’d have Seth’s name on there now and that should open a few doors. But there would still be the entire process where, no matter how proactive I got, I would still be waiting on others to make things happen.

I didn’t want to play that game and thus this site was born.

The process was simple – create a website complete with blog showing off my thinking and expertise. One post about me, one post explaining the job, one post explaining the process. Add a little promotion (including a mention on Seth’s blog, which is close to cheating) and viola! Less than two months later, I have an amazing job with some really cool people.


Understand the status quo, the assumptions, the norm. These are the fertile field you have to work with. Figure out which parts work against you, weigh what can and can’t be changed, come up with a new way to do it that works for you.

For me, this was my random work experience, more than 300 people applying for any position I applied for and a knowledge that the best jobs are never advertised. Doing it my way, I never even sent out a resume, there was only one applicant (me!) and I got one of those best jobs.

Not everyone will like what you’re doing. And that’s OK. If you don’t tick someone off, you’re probably not going far enough. Whether a job hunt or a new business venture, you aren’t trying to please everyone, so don’t try.

I got a lot of grief about one of the parameters I set for my new boss, as well as people thinking I must be out of my mind. Not to mention the ones who cautioned me about making so much of myself public and putting myself out there. Then there was the newspaper article about people taking bold measures on their job hunt. My efforts were apparently too extreme to fit with the rest of the article, so I got cut and only included in an online column.

There’s no such thing as a little non-conformist. If you’re going to adopt the posture, make sure you carry it out all the way through. No half measures, no retreating.

For me, this extended to actually sending a formal job offer to the company I’ll be working for and driving the process the entire time. It got hard to always be in charge and make all the decisions. (Seriously hard.) But that was the posture I chose and I forced myself to stick with it. Keep that in mind as you start out in a game-changing stance.

This entire process was one big learning experience with unexpected things coming at me from every corner. While I might do some of it differently now that I’ve done it once, there is no doubt it was worth every moment.


Again, it’s been a great ride and I appreciate you coming along with me. (You can continue to follow my non-work-life adventures at my regular blog.) Best of luck in your own job searches and changing the game you play!


The adventure begins … with my new boss(es)

Paperwork’s all done, ink is dried, commitments made – so I can officially tell you all that I have finally hired a boss. Actually two. (It was just that fun.)

Meet my new bosses – Mike Rustici and Tim Martin from Rustici Software. (Wave, guys!)

And ready to be really jealous? Because here’s what my new job is going to be – product evangelist. Yep, I get to be a mini Robert Scoble. (Whom I’ve never actually met, so I’m not entirely sure just how mini I would be next to him.) Mike and Tim’s company is coming out with a new product that requires them to start talking to an entirely new audience. A non-technical audience. People who look at you blankly if you start saying things like UI and SQL and compilers and so forth. (Come back!! I know I started to lose you there.)

So my job gets to be talking about the new product (called the SCORM Cloud) along with providing more formal marketing thinking and strategy for the company as a whole. Sweet!

If you poke around a little on the Rustici website, you’ll notice right quick a certain voice and style to the way they talk about themselves. That was just the first thing that drew me to them. Then there was the application email and the Twitter conversations with Tim. There was definitely something there.

They figure I get them. I figure they get me. They figure I’ll be a powerful superweapon for them to deploy. I figure this opportunity gives me the chance to flex my superpowers while developing a few new ones. We all figure we’re in for a fun (and challenging) adventure.

Thanks to everyone who has joined me for this ride. It’s been far more than I expected (more on that another day) and you were half the joy of the entire adventure. I’ve met so many really cool people as a result of this experiment (and ticked off a few others) and it’s time to bring it all to an end.



posted on Jul 29, 2009 under


UPDATE: The job hunt to date

Just a quick update on the job hunt so far. And just the facts.

  • Applications: 26
  • Interviews: 10
  • Finalists: 3
  • Media coverage: magazine, newspaper, podcast
  • Books: Being used as examples in two books (so site will stay up for at least a year)
  • New software "learned": two video conferencing options
  • Twitter followers: lost track
  • New friends: a billion
I've talked with people from Canada, San Francisco, Chicago, Nashville, Plano and Austin. (Where were the people in Dallas?) And along the way, it became clearer and clearer to me just what I wanted from this whole affair. And I think we're almost there. I'll keep you posted.


posted on Jul 15, 2009 under


Riding a trend

Back in the 50s, one of the hellacious parts of being a woman was stockings. Most of us don’t remember the days of garters and girdles and hooks and seams.

Then came pantyhose in 1959. But despite the superiority of the product, it took years to catch on. And what finally got it past the dip?

The rise of the miniskirt.

In almost every industry, there are the peanut butter and jelly relationships. (Or, my preference, peanut butter and chocolate.) Two products that are great on their own, but only hit the big time in symbiosis.

Have you latched on to the miniskirt of your industry? Can you ride a trend to success? Or are you trying to go it alone?


Aston Martin goes slumming

So these guys landed in my email box yesterday. Luxury cars taken down to a Smart Car verions. They look ridiculous. Who doesn't want a Ferrari? But one like this? The Porsche looks like something from a cartoon.

Now, these obviously Photoshopped luxury cars provoke quite a chuckle. The idea of a commuter version of a Lambroghini just smacks of the surreal. People who buy luxury sports cars are totally not the market for a commuter car, right?

So how to explain the news out of Aston Martin yesterday? I mean, this is the luxury brand synonymous with James Bond - sleek, fast, sexy. It's a dream car for car lovers. And a pipe dream for most of us.

When I saw the headline for a budget Aston Martin, I was curious. I'm thinking it's Aston Martin, so maybe they're introducing a lower priced sports car, something for half what the DB9 goes for.

Color me surprised, shocked and nonplussed to see what they were actually talking about. It's a commuter car. Not quite like they're shrinking the DB9 down like the joke pictures above, but it feels like just as much of a joke.

Their logic is a desire to move with the market, not get trapped in the same morass as American car makers. Bravo to them for that. But at the expense of their brand?

The way I see it, Aston Martin will have a hard time taking new market segments while holding true to the core of their brand. This is a company that prides itself on making bespoke products, each as individual as its owner. That level of craftsmanship just isn't something that flies with certain segments of the market, nor are they willing to pay for it.

My instinct would have been to expand out the licensing of the Aston Martin name. There's already a line of luxury watches and an art collection. What about an Aston Martin jet? An Aston Martin vodka? An Aston Martin suit? I sadly see a big fail with the choice to become a car company for all levels. But it's going to be interesting to see if they can prove me wrong.
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posted on Jun 30, 2009 under