Someone threw a small little surprise party to honor Jason on Friday. Pretty soon he'll be off on life after Amazon.
We roasted him big-time, and he took it like a good sport. I've always thought that roasts looked like good fun, and now I can confirm that it's true. I don't even think it would be all that bad to be roasted. Who was it that said all PR is good PR? The difference between a roast and pure mockery is that roasts are built on some general affection.
Having a good manager is perhaps the most important element to any employee's happiness, right up there with quality of work and pay and all that. A good manager should make it easy for you to do what you need to do. Jason definitely put me on the right path and pointed my career in the right direction. The most important thing I learned from him was to reduce all the business problems around me to a few core, simple challenges.
Some others:
--Hire a few strong people, give them some hard problems, a little guidance, and let them crank. Half the battle is getting the right people in place, and don't settle for anything less than that.
--Work harder than the next guy. And the previous guy. Work harder than anyone around you. There are two types of people in the world. People who make things happen, and people who are trying really hard not to make anything happen, or allow anything to happen. Be one of the former, and work with those types of people. Fight your way past all the others.
--Business and personal are two separate worlds. The person you enjoy sharing a beer with may not be the person you want to work with. Love and respect are two different things.
Actually, that thing about working hard--I've known that for a long time, but it's taken on a much broader scope for me. I've realized that the most productive people in the people don't necessarily enjoy the work any more than anyone else, but they have a higher tolerance for it. Like endurance athletes and their capacity for physical pain. And they work smarter. And I've realized how many people in the world aren't willing to work hard, not because they're lazy, but because they don't have the integrity to do so. Productive people don't cut corners because they realize that they're hurting themselves in the long run. It all comes full circle somehow.
Man, I'm being preachy. I'm not sure why. At Jason's roast people said I was talking to seek catharsis, but actually I think I was just indulging my inner stage hog. Secretly I'm a big ham.
Anyway, back to Jason. I did the math. I'm the employee he's managed the longest in his life, and he's been my manager longer than any other. That makes me a lucky guy, though don't tell him that. I really didn't care what my job title was the whole time he managed me. Jason and I used to laugh because you meet all these people in the business world who are so stuck on their job titles. As soon as they get one they like, it's in their sig file, on their business card, and in every other sentence of theirs. Respect the man, not the job title. I learned from Jason to try as much as possible never to tell anyone your job title. People can tell from how you handle yourself and your communications exactly what level of respect they should give you.
It will be tough for the company to lose him, and I'm losing a good manager. We retired his e-mail address (I won't post it here, but if you know him you know it; if it seems like I'm vague about names and things in my weblog it's because there are some crazy yahoos out their in the world, and some of them have web access, and I don't want any of them stalking my friends and family; so, no full names, addresses). No one will ever have that e-mail address at Amazon. It's like retiring a jersey number in sports, which is a metaphor Jason would appreciate.
I suspect that Jason and I will cross paths again in the future.