Monthly Archives: May 2014

Graduation

My son is getting married next March. His future wife has been completing her Masters degree at LSU, and Peggy and I decided to travel to Baton Rouge for her commencement ceremony. My nephew is also receiving his Bachelors degree, so, you know, two birds with one stone.

We had already planned to make the trip for graduation before I accepted the job in Baton Rouge, but now it also serves as a further scouting trip for a place to live. Peggy and I met up with a realtor when we were here for the last interview and spent a day looking at neighborhoods and getting the lay of the land. So, while we are here this weekend we are going to be doing some further research.

If you have ever been to a commencement you know that this is not exactly riveting entertainment. However, we have not forgotten that Caitie attended Mike’s college graduation — even if we did not know who she was — so there was no way we were missing hers. We got a nice shot of Mike and Caitie together after the ceremony:

After a long day of commencing…

After the second commencement of the day we all commenced to eating and drinking at Rum House, a local favorite know for its varied tacos and libations. I think it is safe to say a good time was had by all, including my 81-year-old father who miraculously had no trouble hearing and carrying on conversations despite the din. During the evening Peggy took this picture of our celebrants.

Celebrating at Rum House

Upon seeing that picture I really have only one comment. We are going to have us some blue-eyed grandbabies.

Peggy and I will spend part of the day tomorrow looking again for a place to live, then we will head back to Austin. I’m still pulling for continuing the downsized lifestyle, but let’s just say there are not nearly as many options in Baton Rouge as there are in Austin.

Peggy hates it when I say it, but we’ll figure it out.

We always do.

Surprise!

I run the Regional Office that is in the same town as our Corporate headquarters. It is an odd arrangement because both offices are in the same town but are in separate locations. So, when we have meetings at the Corporate office I “travel” in for the meetings like my counterparts in the other regions.

While I was preparing for our Leadership Conference this week, the CEO called me and asked if I could come into Corporate early and meet with him. I was honored to receive the Leadership Award at last year’s conference, and at this year’s conference I have to make a presentation to this year’s winner — I assumed this was what Rich wanted to talk about. Since Peggy and I just got back from Louisiana on Friday and my boss was not in the office on Monday, I was already planning to get to the Corporate office early today to tell Steve that I am leaving the company.

I showed up at headquarters this morning about an hour before my meeting with the CEO and my boss was not in the office yet. When it was time for the meeting with Rich, Steve had still not arrived, so I went down to meet with Rich.

Rich immediately launched into a conversation about an upcoming project that he wanted me to lead. I felt I had no choice but to break protocol and tell him that I was actually giving my notice to leave the organization. I told him how much I regretted leaving, but the family situation with both my father and my son was just too much to pass up. He was obviously taken by surprise — as I have been by this entire turn of events — but he was exceptionally gracious about everything. I explained to him that I had not been able to have the conversation with Steve or my staff yet, and I asked him for the opportunity to do so before we began our meeting. I told him I would be back in time for my presentation and left to meet with Steve.

Steve was just as surprised and equally gracious. I love working for this company, so the decision to leave has not been made lightly. I told Steve I feared that if the announcement was made at the Leadership Conference then my staff would hear about it before I had the chance to tell them myself. He agreed and told me to go back to my office and notify my team before they could hear it from anyone else.

I’m a baby. I cried when I told my folks I am leaving. I have poured seven years into this place, and it is emotional for me to leave. I have only been working with this group for about seven months but they have made incredible strides in a short time. It is hard to walk away from something that is working so well.

I went back to the Leadership Conference and made the presentation. When I was finished Rich surprised me by coming up and announcing to everyone that I was leaving and giving me his blessing on the new venture. Yes, I cried again. It is that kind of thing that makes it hard to leave, but I know I am doing the right thing for my family.

This organization will not miss a beat. I will miss them more than they will miss me. I was dreading the conversations I knew I was going to have today, but everyone was so gracious that the day was not nearly as difficult as I expected. But I am exhausted!

I am staying through the end of the month so I will have time to say the rest of the goodbyes. Today was a very necessary start.

Cajun Mexico, Part Deux

Peggy and I like to get away for Mother’s Day. A couple of years ago we went to Mexico for a week of gluttony and debauchery. In other words, a perfect trip.

We have been trying to return for two years now. Last year we changed our plans because Peggy was uncomfortable being out of the country and out of reach from her mother. The intervening year has eased her discomfort since she travels to Dallas every other week and is very happy with the level of care her mother is receiving.

This year we have to be in Baton Rouge for a couple of days this week. We reserved a room in Lake Charles for the entire week and decided we could travel over to Baton Rouge and them come back for the rest of the vacation.

The visit to Baton Rouge went entirely as expected. I was a big hit, and Peggy was the star of the show. They had asked me to prepare a presentation on what I would like to do for the first ninety days. I’m sure they were interested in knowing, but mostly they wanted to see my presentation skills. Let’s just say they were, wittingly or unwittingly, playing to my strengths.

After the presentation, Peggy joined us and we all went to lunch. I sat Peggy next to the CEO for the lunch. Case closed.

The funniest part of the meeting was the previous night. Peggy and I went to dinner with the man I would be replacing and his wife. This guy is the friend of my former boss who initiated the original conversations. We had a great time at dinner with them as he explained some of the mundane duties we would be called upon to perform for the organization. Boring stuff like hosting clients in the club level at LSU football games or in the corporate suite at LSU baseball games. I have a pretty good poker face, so I kind of sighed and explained it was a sacrifice I would be willing to make.

Here’s the thing — nowhere on my resume’ is there any mention of Louisiana or LSU. While I attended LSU as an undergraduate, I left before I graduated to attend Law School. My actual degree is from the University of Texas at Dallas, and my entire career has been in Texas. In the interview process I have never mentioned anything about growing up in Louisiana or attending LSU, so they think they have to sell me on the state.

When we got back into the car after dinner, Peggy said, “Oh, my God! Did he just say we are going to have club seats for the LSU football games?! And a baseball suite?!” I’m just glad she held in the exclamations until we were alone, though I am not sure that Bill and Jackie couldn’t hear it from their car, too.

When we got back to Lake Charles there was already an offer waiting on us. I had told the recruiter what it would take for me to consider the move and the offer was more than that number. They want me there by the end of the month.

After discussion, Peggy and I decided to accept their offer. We spent a couple of days trying to relax before Peggy told me we need to go back to Austin. We have a lot to do in a short amount of time. I can’t believe we are going to be moving again, but I have to admit I am very excited about the prospects.

I am not so excited about telling my CEO that I am leaving, but that is part of the process.

With apologies to Whitesnake, here I go again…

Trying to relax, before she made us go home