Tuesday, February 28, 2006
I finished my orientation today. It was orientation so it wasn't very interesting but it wasn't as bad as it could be. It lasted a day and a half and went over various topics like corporate responsibility, diversity, leagal affairs, and IT. They made the most of the session and one of the highest compliments I can give such an event is that it didn't temper my enthusiasm for my new job.

What may have though is that I had some issues setting up my computer and connecting to the corporate network. You would think at such a high power tech company and with a tech saavy employee like myself, there shouldn't be too much of an issue. Oh well, nothing is perfect.

One of the most impressive things about going from a small company to a large Fortune 500 company is the sheer number of benefits you never realized you don't have. One of the things I kept saying to myself throughout the whole orientation was, "What? Yet another benefit?" Things like charity matching, discounted services, and paid activity fees. These things don't really show up on your bank statement but they really make a big difference.

Like in my other blog, I won't be talking much about work in this space. In all likelihood this might be might last post about it.

Seattle - First Impressions

Saturday, February 25, 2006
So far, so good. I like Seattle a lot. The only negative thing so far would be the weather. It has rained 2 out of the 3 days we have been here and it has been very chilly, but so far nothing I can't handle. My girlfriend is even adjusting well and she has never lived outside of Southern California. We decided to drive around during rush hour and it wasn't that bad. It wasn't good but coming from L.A. it wasn't anything I couldn't handle.

Yesterday we went into downtown Seattle to do some touristy type things. We went to the Seattle Space needle which was pretty cool. We even had Cotton Candy which I hadn't had since I was 10. We were all excited to take the Monorail but found out that it was broken. Bummer. So we ended up walking the 8 or so blocks into the retail core to do some shopping.

I am still debating where to live but I am leaning toward the Bellevue area. It's close to work and there are some things to do there. I didn't really like Redmond because it seemed to quiet and I didn't really like downtown because it suffers from what all downtowns do. It was too busy and I hate living in places that have no parking or where you have to pay for parking.

Think Taxes Don't Matter?

Thursday, February 16, 2006
Yes, in case it isn't clear, I'm moving. I'm moving out of the great state of California and to the gloomy state of Washington. Why on earth would I do that?

This is due in no small part to one of my favorite subjects, taxes. You see, California has an absolutely horrendous tax system. It has an astounding 9.3% levy on income over $56,642. To make matters worse, it has a pretty high sales tax and the gas tax doesn't help either. Now in comparison, Washington has NO STATE INCOME TAX. Of course it has to generate revenue somehow which it does so through sales, gasoline, cigarette, and property tax. But guess what. Everyting except the Cigarette tax is lower in Washington than in California!

Even if they weren't higher it would make little difference to me since I tend to save a great deal of my income rather than spend it, I don't smoke, and I don't own (and will not own for the time being) property. Now, I surely pay the property tax indirectly through rent but considering I can get a much nicer place for much cheaper than I can get in California, I think I can live with it.

Now I had a competing offer on the table with a company in California. The money was about the same but in the end it was pretty clear that the Washington offer was better simply because I would not be paying state income tax on it. Washington had a built in 10% edge. (There were other reasons I took the job but it's not like I ignored the effective 10% raise).

Ever hear of the Laffer Curve? It is basically the idea that you can only collect so much in taxes before the revenue drops off because people stop working or move to avoid the tax. Believe me, it's true. And the story isn't isolated to just me. I know plenty of other people who make a great deal of money who decided not to come to California in no small part to the rather unfair tax burden.

So instead of getting some taxes from me, and getting the productive work that well-paid workers provide, California will get nothing from me. But hey, you have the beaches and sunshine right?

Moving: The Good

Monday, February 13, 2006
Sometimes moving is a real pain in the ass. But I actually like moving. The thing about moving, is that I take it as an opportunity to clean house. It is amazing how much crap you can accumulate the longer you live at a place. I haven't moved in over 3 years, the longest amount of time I have lived in a place since I left my childhood home on my way to college. As I start going through things, I'm realizing how much crap I have that I probably don't need, and I'm starting to throw it out. I have old magazines, brochures, receipts, etc. things that I have absolutely no use for and end up taking space in a corner somewhere.

Out with the old in with the new. I did it with the job, now I need to do it with my stuff.

How Not To Grow A Company

Monday, February 06, 2006
Here is a quick list about how to not grow your company

  • Pay less than the prevailing market wage.
  • Give less than average raises. (which compounds the above problem two fold)
  • Do not have a bonus structure that rewards your top employees.
  • Do not give stock to key employees thereby eliminating incentive to see the company do well.
  • Give your top employees assignments that are completely uninteresting.
  • Do not communicate to your employees how you plan on allowing them to grow their careers.
It's funny. If your stated goal is to grow the company, and grow it quickly, then you have to be willing to pay the piper. Good talent does not come cheap. Good talent does not come simply to help YOU make money. Good talent needs an incentive. Those incentives are normally either money, good opportunities, or interesting work. By doing the above, you eliminate the possibility of ever finding good people. This problem compounds itself because good people want to work with other good people. Working at a company like the one above has to make you wonder about the people who still work there.

I am one who believes you should not complain about your current work situation because if you think you are underpaid, overworked, etc. it is up to you to prove your employer wrong. We live in a free society where one is free to work or not work for any given employer. I have had opportunities to leave before. In every case there was more money, more stock, better work etc. There was always some incentive to work hard to see the company do well. (I did not leave until now because even though the offers were good, I knew I could do better and I was not looking to leave my company, even if it was bad, for just any other opportunity)

I'm just not sure what delusion top management is under to believe that they can grow a bad company to a great company with talent that is below the competition. I am not advocating that a company goes overboard. I'm not suggesting you should pamper your talent or give them excessive perks. I am simply saying that you have to provide some incentive for top talent. Hoping top talent wants to work for you "just cause" will never work.


Friday, February 03, 2006
It's odd. Even though I have more time on my hand now, I have less time to do things like Blog. Sorry for the sudden silence that has suddenly overtaken this blog. I will update a little more as it becomes a little more firm.

Everyone have a great Superbowl weekend! My pick? My future hometown!