BlueNote's Journal

Where are you and where are you going?
Smashter
Posts: 367
Joined: Sat Nov 12, 2016 8:05 am

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by Smashter »

Congrats! I've gone from a declining company to a thriving one before, and the transition is pretty great. I bet you love it.

Family father
Posts: 123
Joined: Wed Nov 02, 2016 10:59 am

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by Family father »

Congrats Bluenote!

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

Life

My son is growing up fast. He's going through a phase where he gets angry or upset and hasn't learned to control himself when these emotions hit. I see this as an interesting opportunity to see his raw psyche before he learns to filter things. When he gets upset he shrieks as loud as he can and sometimes will try to claw/scratch your face. The other day he dropped a toy car on his foot. He then proceeded to pick the car up, throw it to the ground and then point and yell at it in his baby babble talk. He repeated the throwing , pointing and yelling routine about 4 times before settling down, it was FUNNY. He's also more expressive of his love towards us and likes hugs and cuddles. When I get home from work he runs to the door and opens it when I come in. When he is teething in the night he will let loose a mind bending shriek and by the time I wake up in panic and get to him he's back asleep :lol:

Work

I have employees now. I have a lot of respect for them and I think they have respect for me. Beyond that I am trying to build strong professional relationships with them by having a lot of regularly occurring quality communication.

There's a ton of work at the new job, not sure how I am going to manage it all. My team is under a lot of stress and about half of us are new employees.

The company culture has developed in a way where people are just expected to figure out most things on their own. Documentation of work processes is often optional. For example I was "trained" on a process in my first week by someone talking as fast as they seemingly could about how they did a fairly complex and sophisticated process. There was about 2 hours of this brain dump and it was over. I think the person expected to simply walk away from doing this huge job, they'd been doing for years, after a two hour quick brain dump and some very unclear promises about providing consultation if we approach them. Questions were sort of barely tolerated and I was almost scoffed at when I asked if there was written documentation. It's like people run purely on their raw abilities to patch things together in the moment. Contrast this with how I left my last job. I created videos with hours of documentation of me doing my job on the computer. I created thousands of words and images of documentation in a shared OneNote book and made sure it was stored on a sharepoint that wouldn't disappear after I left. I also spent hours and hours training people and meeting with everyone I could to ensure a smooth transition. I also provided answers to questions to people in the old job after I had moved on to the new job as a professional courtesy. The new job is like everyone just could care less about that sort of thing.

There is a huge push to train everyone on a software tool called Knime. They seem to want to replace almost all major analytical excel models with Knime. When I did some knime tutorials I thought it was sort of interesting but kept thinking how I would prefer to just use a programming language. I guess Knime is more user accessible than a programming language. Anyways I'm trying to avoid the "man with a hammer" mental model but also want to fit in with the culture so its a bit of a balance.

I'm required to manage the finances for an entirely new line of business that should be going online in a month or two along with an existing line of business which has financial processes built from duct tap and bailing wire. I'm starting to mentally build a case for hiring 1 or 2 more analysts.

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

Family Communism

I transferred 23K CAD to my wife since Feb 2018 when my son was born. I did this as part of what I jokingly call "family communism" whereby we add together all of our incomes and do a transfer so that our total incomes are the same. So far our communism hasn't suffered the same fate as other communisms in that there has been no famines, dictatorships or gulag style concentration camps. Family communism stops at the end of August at which point we revert back to pretending that the money we earn actually belongs to each individual spouse.

Work

Two things that I am not liking about my new job.

1. I have two managers. No matter how well intentioned these types of arrangements are it makes it very difficult to keep them pleased. I always felt these arrangements were less effective than having a one boss system. I also have to participate in sharing 2 of my 3 employees with other managers. I have to coach my employees with how to deal with the time demands of multiple managers.

2. I have now seen one entire department of director, finance manager and analyst quit and get replaced and now the analyst of that depart is quitting again and being replaced in the space of 2 months. I have seen about 3/4 of another bigger department go as well. There's a lot of mini-organizations that make up the whole organization. They are purposely loosely coupled with each other, for what I believe, is a growth purpose. When you have a big organization with a new thing they want to grow the big organization tends to suck away it's resources and ignore it. Forcing a smaller org onto the growing thing is like building a greenhouse around a little plant, it protects it from the harsh big org environment and provides it with much needed attention and care so it can grow . This also means that if you lose your entire finance department that nobody is going to assign another orgs head count to come to your rescue. They'll just make the managers re-hire and retrain. The other people in the office, sitting right next to the disaster, watch it burn and feel sorry for the remaining people who don't get promoted and have to deal with new managers (like me :lol: ) and colleagues hired off the street.

They're also not averse to firing your ass if you mess up, even if it's during your first 6 weeks there and it's relatively minor. I've been kept up at night worrying about my work for the last month due to negative feedback from one of my managers. It's all good now, I hope, but that never happened at the old place. At the old place I don't know of anyone that got fired, it was like a government job that way and I didn't realize how insulating it was until recently. I feel like I am improving as a result of the feedback although I would never provide an employee with that level of feedback unless I had gone through like 10 instances of much milder feedback without a behaviour change.


Two things I am liking about my new job

1. More MONEY :mrgreen:
2. I am enjoying the 'power' for lack of a better word of managing. I am talking about relationship power for the most part but there is also the role power which is becoming less important as relationship power builds. I can delegate tasks which are small to me but to my people they are big responsibilities.They grow and I get rid of something that had low economic value relative to the other balls I am juggling. I am very aware of the balance I need to keep on this because over delegation is one of the reasons for people leaving this org. You can't just show up at an analysts desk and be like "go run the departments operations properly and don't ask what I mean by that you should just know" and then scorch them when they inevitably fuck up because you weren't managing them.

Kid

My son is doing very well, he's talking more and we chase each other around and play a lot.

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

That Time I was a Manager

I’m moving on to another job again. I’m excited about my new job because I think it’s a better fit for me. It’s a better fit for my skills and traits for sure. It also pays less than the manager job I have now but more than the job I had before that. There were two things that I had a hard time with in the last job. Number one being a manager means you’re responsible for managing whoever your manager decides. If you’re lucky that means you get a bunch of star employees who make your job easier and make you look great. However most likely you’ll get a mixed bag. My bag was a mix of one lifer, one new person and one somewhat ambitious person. The lifer could have cared less and just punched their card and complained to me almost every day until they realized I had no power and then tried complaining to my boss. The new person lied to me about being a CPA , I called them on it and they told me they were a candidate and just had to get more hours. This person didn’t seem to know a debit from a donut and was resistant to my efforts to impose some remedial training. The ambitious person was promoted to manager and replaced by another new person (who seems somewhat competent). I’m extremely introverted. Dealing with the people issues was way more draining than I expected. It was like having my soul sucked out some days dealing with them, my work and my two bosses. I took one of those psychological tests that score you for depression, I scored low moderate. It was really getting me down. I was working 10-14 hour days regularly. I took a vacation and before I left my one boss gave me negative feedback that I wasn’t “owning” my job and needed to “own” it. Very vague non-actionable feedback that haunted me throughout my vacation. When I got back from my vacation that same boss wouldn’t talk to me for a few days. I came into work and sat down at the desk next to her and she didn’t acknowledge me anymore than to say hi. After a day or two she told me that she was disappointed that I didn’t work on my vacation. She started sending me colourful emails detailing things she didn’t like about my work regularly. It was all negative all the time with her. It was her getting her boss in on the action too. “You need to own it buddy” , seriously WTF does that mean. I demanded objectives and priorities and got something like a to do list but it was better than nothing. It was her telling my employees things behind my back and me finding out from them later. Don’t get me wrong she’s not a bad person but at the same time her behaviour was so void of positivity it was like having a little cloud over your head at all times. I’ve also never seen so much turnover in a finance department before. Nobody blamed me for leaving, everyone just treated me like I was yet another turnover and wished me luck. Yeah there was money and a modicum of power but totally not worth it for me. So I am going into a job that has a combination of accounting and technology and no managing. If someone wants me to manage again I’ll maybe do one head, but only if I agree. I am happy to say good bye to this experiment and hello to my new role where there is very low turnover and my boss has been with the company 20 years.

SavingWithBabies
Posts: 676
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:50 pm
Location: Midwest, USA

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by SavingWithBabies »

Wow. That sounds horrible. Congratulations on walking away from that dumpster fire.

Mister Imperceptible
Posts: 1443
Joined: Fri Nov 10, 2017 4:18 pm

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by Mister Imperceptible »

I wish you did something colorful to your bosses and said “You need to own it buddy” on the way out.

rube
Posts: 686
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by rube »

Sometimes you need to get out your comfort zone to grow. Sometimes it is not about you and it will never work. You demonstrated you own your life by taking the right action. Good luck in the new job.
How is the family (read mostly baby) doing?

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

Mister Imperceptible wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:46 pm
I wish you did something colorful to your bosses and said “You need to own it buddy” on the way out.
I have been professional with her. I signed on for 3 weeks of notice but given I only worked there 5-6 months I asked for 2. She told me it was out of her hands. I told her to go to HR and tell them I want 2 and I'm fine not earning a 3rd weeks pay which benefits them. She just sent me an email that CC'd HR indicating that I was obliged to provide 3 weeks. I was like ok that's what I signed up for. I've also been working the exact 7.5 hour shifts that are spelled out on my contract, turning off my phone when I get home and that's it. It's work to rule baby. When I gave my notice she basically said nothing and went and told her boss I quit and then told all of my employees I quit and basically told everyone immediately. I would have liked to have broken the news but whatever. She then tried to hire a guy who helped train me and one of my employees in our first weeks. He declined even though it would have been a promotion and probably a raise. He would have been my first pick too. I think at this point she's starting to feel the pinch of a super hot job market and the fact that nobody in the company seems to want my old job. She's also a thoughtful person who can get things done, just some behaviour issues that don't fit with me.

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

rube wrote:
Wed Nov 06, 2019 1:24 am
Sometimes you need to get out your comfort zone to grow. Sometimes it is not about you and it will never work. You demonstrated you own your life by taking the right action. Good luck in the new job.
How is the family (read mostly baby) doing?
Yeah I think getting out of my comfort zone taught me a lot about what I don't want to do and is leading me to what I want to do with my remaining career runway. It's better to sacrifice a little money for a lot of peace of mind and job satisfaction IMHO.

Family is doing alright

My son is in daycare, he seems to like it. He's quite active , likes the snow and likes to roll around in the dirt, sand and puddles. I dump sand out of his shoes almost every day. When I sing old McDonald had a farm, he will fill in the ee-I-ee-I-Oh parts right on cue.

My wife is transitioning back to full time employment. I am trying to take over some of her old duties so she doesn't feel like she has the world on her shoulders.

Working 10-14 hour days was having a negative impact on our relationship, every minute of work was a minute I couldn't spend with them.

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

SavingWithBabies wrote:
Tue Nov 05, 2019 10:39 pm
Wow. That sounds horrible. Congratulations on walking away from that dumpster fire.
Thanks

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

Update

Since the COVID outbreak my wife and I have been WFH full-time while simultaneously caring for a two year old boy. That hasn't left me with much 'free' time. I've become a much more experienced parent. My back hurts much more. My kid hasn't had been sick at all for months for the first time since he started daycare. Daycare is probably the biggest germ spreading environment I can think of.

I really like, almost love, my new job. When I started they had the position open for around 9 months. This meant the person who was doing my job was getting burned out by covering two roles and was very happy to finally have me in place. I get along well with my team (there's three of us). In terms of the work it's basically a job where I organize a company wide budget once a year and the rest of my time is spent generating financial analysis for management. As is typical in many financial reporting organizations the team was spending way to much time preparing their data for reporting vs providing analysis. I'm already an accomplished VBA (A BASIC Language) programmer which really helped generate some efficiency at the beginning and impressed my boss and colleague. The problem with VBA is that it's a programming language and in the hands of non-programmers you end up with a lot of "Spaghetti" code and crazy sh**t that works but you don't know why and don't have time to fix right away. I debugged a lot of code in the first few months and in a lot of cases re-factoring wasn't worth the time so I just rebuilt a lot from scratch using far better coding techniques, inline documentation etc. Basically I was nice to the future people who may need to modify the code base. In addition I quickly learned as much as I could about PowerQuery , PowerPivot and PowerBI. I'd say I am at an intermediate level with PowerQuery and the DAX engine used by PowerPivot and PowerBI now. I figure in another 6 months I should be at an advanced level with some major projects under my belt. I am moving most of their reports over from classic excel into DAX Engine platforms (PowerBI and PowerPivot). In addition I am massively overhauling their budgeting process so that we can consolidate and analyse the budget much more quickly and accurately than before. It's like these guys are trying to dig ditches with shovels and I am showing up with a back hoe.

Anyways I am glad to be healthy and probably won't be able to update this as frequently as in the past until COVID is over and my kid is back in daycare which I think will be in 9 months to a year (assuming we're all vaccinated or there is a cure or something like that.)

SavingWithBabies
Posts: 676
Joined: Mon Aug 31, 2015 2:50 pm
Location: Midwest, USA

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by SavingWithBabies »

The new job sounds great! It's really fun when you can be in the situation you are that you both can expand your skills while also leveling up the rest of the team/company by already having prior knowledge that benefits them (by making things more efficient). I'm really happy for you!

I've noticed the same thing with our kids. It's great being sick less (I usually catch all their colds). Now I just have relatively mild seasonal allergies.

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

Random Enormous Gift

I have some misgivings about disclosing this but I have been transparent about my finances thus far so I think it's ok to share.

An older relative, from my wifes side, gave us 250K recently. He told us to use it as a down payment on a home, specifically a freehold property preferably a fully detached but a semi is also ok.

He's always been very giving but never anything like this.

My wife and I were blown away and are incredibly grateful.


House Hunting

A month ago I assumed I would be a renter for life because my rent (locked in at 2015 inflation adjusted payment) in Toronto was insanely low compared to home ownership (1000 Sqft $1,300 per month utilities incl , nice place with nice people). Therefore I didn't give any thought to the logistics of home buying and home ownership until recently.

I have a mortgage broker now. He's a smart guy and has a great blog about the mortgage business (PM me for a referral). He thinks that right now , in Canada, there is a Covid premium in the interest rates because they are spread much higher than average from prime (for variable rates) and the 5 year gov bond (for fixed rates). He expects this premium to go away when Covid dissipates so suggest variables rates for now and to maybe switch to fixed later. We're leaning this way too. I don't see interest rates moving up for years. Massive unemployment and global pandemic spending will require taxes to be raised. People getting older, technology driving the cost of things down it's all deflationary IMHO. Pre-covid I thought they'd raise rates for awhile because the economy was heating up and they needed to raise rates to give them some dry powder for the next recession. Now I wouldn't be surprised if they went to negative rates and printed money for UBI to keep the deflation demon at bay.

I need to get a real estate lawyer, real estate agent, inspector etc. We need to determine the area to search , what we're looking for etc.

We'd like to move in during the October-November time frame before the really bad Canadian weather kicks in.

I want to have a perma-culture garden. So I'd like a backyard that gets lot's of sun. I haven't thought enough about this but I'd like to have some fruit tree's, possibly a HugelKultur with some edible stuff growing out of it etc. In addition we need to have a deck area and some space for my kid to play. Currently we are looking at the outer periphery of the Greater-Toronto-Area (mostly north and north east).

Net Worth

In 2010 I had a negative net worth of ~ -20K. Today It stands at 492K. In addition DW has been quietly amassing her own fortune. She's been sending me her money to invest and I invest her money in parallel to my own. So her NW is about the same as mine. In fact I was surprised at how close she is to me, she's quite competitive. JLF sometimes mentions that leading people into ERE is best done by example which has been my method, so I hope I have been a good influence. She was a very good financial influence on me when we first met. As a family we're almost millionaires now.

Noom

I got a subscription to Noom, it's a dieting app with some coaching. I started a little more than a week ago. I've lost some weight and am learning about the psychological side of eating. I got a deal on my subscription so it was 80% off sticker price.The cost is a rounding error for me, like $180 a year, and I need to lose weight.

Covid Prep and Defense

I am still working from home. I don't really see a point in even going to the office considering how well I have been working from home.

My kid is not going back to daycare right now. So we're juggling caring for him with work. So far it's working well because we can always work a bit on the weekends and after hours if we need to catch up.

I follow all the other recommended precautions(masking, hand washing , distancing etc.)

I even upped my Vitamin D intake.

Most of the people in my apartment building don't follow the protocols at all. People have been defacing the signs asking people to follow the bylaws to wear a mask. It's disconcerting and I think the general attitude in Canada is getting lax. I think that this combined with winter and schools forcing people to be closer is going to cause a second wave that might be worse than the first one.

Prius

We bought a Prius (2017 model) a little while back. Prior to that we drove a Dodge Journey that was a wedding gift , yes same relative as above. It's extremely fuel efficient, almost crazy how little I have to go to the gas station with it.

Otherwise it drives like a smallish car and has more interior room than a camry.

They're very eco friendly as well, it's fun to engage the eco mode on the car where you can tweak your gas and breaking to be as efficient as possible and then the car gives you a score at the end to tell you how efficient your driving is.

It has a cruise control that is guided by radar. I'd never experienced that before but it's amazing because it keeps your car from colliding with other vehicles ahead of it.

basuragomi
Posts: 180
Joined: Tue Oct 15, 2019 3:13 pm

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by basuragomi »

That's very generous of your relative! Have you considered Ottawa as an alternative to the GTA exurbs? I know your goals are different with the kid and car and deck, but if someone offered the same deal to me I would probably view it as a net financial loss relative to renting. Even with $250k lopped off, a GTA house is still most of a million dollars unless you go to around Cobourg... It's a bit anxiety-inducing thinking about how to gracefully decline a quarter million dollars. Just interesting to me how my response would have been so different from yours, I'm glad that your goals were aligned.

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

@basuragomi Yeah we're looking well outside of the Toronto area. I'm going to ask my boss if I can work remotely on a permanent or semi permanent basis this week. Hopefully if he is agreeable we can go to a low cost of living area. I read my companies policy on remote work and they say that your salary and benefits won't change if you work remotely so it'd be nice to live in a low cost of living are on a Toronto salary.

BlueNote
Posts: 498
Joined: Sat Jun 08, 2013 6:26 pm
Location: Toronto, Canada

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by BlueNote »

We Bought a House

We bought a house in a small city (Clarington) near the very outskirts of what one could call the GTA (Greater Toronto Area).

I am happy with the house, it's fairly new and doesn't need much work. The neighbourhood is close to good schools and is mostly young families like us. We're much closer to our families now , for better or worse, which I think is mostly good.

In addition we are close to major highways (401, 115 and 407). There will be a Go Train station put into our neighbourhood in ~3-4 years. This will allow cost effective train access to downtown Toronto should I be compelled to work there again at that point.

On the other hand real estate prices have probably been puffed up by COVID. People are fleeing the city to live in neighbourhoods like my new one to avoid their condo's and apartments. However a great number of people are unemployed and some, soon to be known, number of them will be forced to sell their homes once the COVID financial help is dialled down. The forecast I think is something like an 18% price drop in prices before they start the long-term average ascent roughly following inflation again. I think that Condo's in Toronto will get walloped the most (over supply and strict regulations on short term rentals), followed by town/row houses, followed by Semi-detached and lastly detached homes will get walloped the least because the supply vs demand seems strongest in that type of abode right now. Builders prefer making condo's, semi's and row/town houses because they're more profitable (easier to jam together on a tract of land is my uneducated guess). Therefore the pipeline supply of non-detached properties is far more abundant than detached homes right now. Plus Condominium ownership involves those periodic and one-time maintenance fee's that seems to always go up and often become almost as much as the mortgage payment on older units.

Why, might you ask, would I buy a home now instead of later? I have my reasons, they might be wrong but they'e basically as follows

1. We got a $250K gift with strings attached to use it to buy a house
2. We're expecting another baby and would like to raise our kids in a neighbourhood like where we grew up.
3. We're not liking living in a <1000 sq ft apartment during a pandemic where 80+% of our neighbours don't wear masks around the building. This is probably just irrational fear but it starts really getting to you when you find out that..
4. We're going to have another baby
5. Our neighbourhood seemed to get really loud since COVID started, maybe more people around not working. There are numerous construction projects coming online in our neighbourhood that are going to be incredibly noisy, dusty, loud and last years. Multiple residential towers, townhouse projects etc. all over the place. Our building has a fairly big yard and I wouldn't be surprised if they sold it to some developer soon to build something on it.

From a financial perspective I have a nice spreadsheet that I used to calculate everything that goes into owning a home. I set the max home price at an amount that could withstand one of us not working (or making any income at all) but the other making their normal income. In that scenario we'd have to stop investing, change our grocery habits up a little, no vacation fund and a few other sacrifices but the mortgage would be paid and everyone would be healthy and safe.

I should be fully moved in by December. We take possession early November. I'll be cleaning out the eaves troughs, raking the leaves, mowing the lawn, shovelling the snow and all that home owner stuff real soon.

Working from home

I arranged to work from home 4 days a week after the Covid danger is over (100% WFH now). My drive one day a week will be about an hour each way but it's no big deal if it's only once a week.

I am terrible at asking for things so I spent 5 minutes sort of apologetically asking my boss and explaining my plan to buy a house in a LCOL area. He said it was fine and that was it.

COVID

Cases are going up again just like I last predicted. It's likely because people just seem to have 1-2 months, average, tolerance for protocols. I see these people in my building all the time, particularly the teenagers and young adults who could care less and behave as if the by law signs (wear a mask, keep distance etc.) posted everywhere don't exist.Easy stuff to incorporate into your life , disappointing to see people behave this way and put at risk populations in avoidable danger.

rube
Posts: 686
Joined: Tue Oct 02, 2012 7:54 pm
Location: Europe (NL)

Re: BlueNote's Journal

Post by rube »

Congrats on #2 and 4!!(I assume 2 and 4 are the same or is one on the way and another one "planned"?!

And of course congrats with the house and the 4 days wfh after Covid. Good luck with all preparations and so on.

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