The Four

I read several books this weekend, one of them The Four by Scott Galloway. Scott Galloway is a professor at NYU Stern Business School, and also makes entertaining videos on Youtube where he explains the world of Silicon Valley through the medium of wearing a wig and miming to Adele. No, really. That’s how I first came to know of him, prompted to look at a dissection of Apple/Google/Amazon/Facebook by a colleague.
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I, too, was there – Chaos Monkeys

In what may have been an act of self-destructive stupidity, I read Chaos Monkeys on the plane on the way to San Francisco, ahead of my first visit to Facebook HQ. If ever there was something to smash the bright eyed idealism that accompanies the start of a new job and replace it with world weary cynicism, it would be a book that starts by describing your CEO as a smartphone addicted mutterer, surrounded by people who spoke only in corporate platitudes and MBA-speak, and heads downhill from there. I like a good hatchet job as much as the next guy, but it’s a strange experience watching somebody air out the dirty laundry from a place you’re going to…
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Day Four

As my fourth day draws to a close (another day without any corporate swag – how can one stand it?), and the mental fatigue brought on by adjusting to being in an office and thinking about things every day rather than just lying on the sofa and idly pontificating at the children sets in, I’m moved to consider some of the previous jobs I’ve had, and how you can graph them.

First, here’s a job where the X-axis is time, and the Y ranges from elation at the top, to frustration at the bottom. ┬áMy first job seemed to consist of daily oscillations between one and the other (or you could substitute “feeling good” and “expecting to be sacked”) for almost three years, although as time went on the periodicity lengthened and the amplitude reduced, which are fancy words for saying I know fancy words.


Extending that first experience, you might had a long time when a job was just boring, before the inexorable dive to the asymptote occurs, and there’s an extinction event (the dinosaur of your job is killed by the meteorite of a rage-quit) near the end:


And finally, another less than fun one. Here we can graph competence (the green line) and happiness (the red one) against time, for a task you don’t like doing very much, but unfortunately you’re the only person who can do that. You want to avoid that sort of situation.


I’m happy to say that in this role, I’ve yet to encounter any of these. Now, you might contest that’s because I’m in the honeymoon period, but (a) I don’t know what you mean, because my honeymoon was spent in Seattle (while my wife was in New York) and (b) I’ve had jobs where the very first week was the first rollercoaster chart at the top here. Wheres there have been a few minor frustrations with admin (some of which could be easily solved by a sticker saying “James, don’t try to do things when you’re really really jet lagged”) and none of which were “right, let’s frisbee the laptop out the window” type things. Unlike the time I tried to install R on my personal laptop. But let us never talk of that.
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Day Three

On the downside, I didn’t get any corporate branded merchandise today. On the upside, when I went to the cafeteria today, there were clouds of dry ice vapours everywhere, and they were making dessert using liquid nitrogen (which doesn’t taste of much) and chocolate and fruit puree. I’ll know when I’m jaded and unappreciative of life, because that will be when I don’t get excited by things like this:
I didn’t sleep very well – last night I went to the track and did almost 11 km, testing out my new power meter, and for the last few laps I kept running past a dead frog at about the 250m point, which was baleful and saddening in equal measure. I got home, stayed up until well past midnight reading, and then woke up at 4:30 this morning, as though jet lag is something that gets worse the longer you stay in one time zone. I had to power through today relying on coffee (too much) and snacking. This is something that will punish me in the long term.
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Day Two

Last night I spent too much time stressing over intractable technical problems, but I woke this morning to find them all resolved, which indicates sleeping through difficulties is often the best way forward. I woke at 5:45 with no chance of going back to sleep, so I faffed about for a bit then went for a run. Then I got back, drank three pints of cold water, sweated, showered, sweated, showered, sweated, wasted 45 minutes flapping about the apartment, swearing at myself and continuing to perspire, before finally rushing out of the door, convinced I was going to have a dreadful day, given my unbalanced mind.

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Day One Again

Today was my first day of work at Facebook, and I woke at 5:30 in the morning, not because I was filled with nervousness and trepidation, but because jet lag and falling asleep at 10pm and because poor grammar decisions. There was nothing to eat in the house (except for a bag of rotten pumpkin seeds, and some frozen fish) so I had to go back to the 24 hour supermarket to buy fruit and oatmeal. Then it was just a matter of faffing about for two hours until the rains came and the taxis all dissolved, and then sprinting for the MRT in full-on panic mode because you should start like you mean to go on, right?

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