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Farewell Florida Blue

Last Tuesday I made another one of those decisions that will alter the course of my life. I’m leaving Florida Blue after 16+ years and moving to another great company named Adecco. This amount of change in such a short time is unprecedented for me and I find myself doing a lot of thinking about the past and what I’ll be leaving behind. The decision to leave Florida Blue was especially difficult. It is a great company. It cares about its employees and it treats them well. It also cares deeply about its customers and makes it easy to buy in to its mission by going out of its way to ensure that customers come first.

It’s much harder to leave a company when you believe in it and when you trust and appreciate the people that you work with. It’s also very hard to leave anywhere that you’ve spent as much time as I’ve spent at Florida Blue. I find myself deep in thought as I walk out of the parking lot each day, taking in the scenery and realizing that I will only make that walk a few more times in my life.

I grew up at Florida Blue. I started when I was 21 and was no more than a boy. I learned how to be a man there. I learned about responsibility and work ethic. I learned about the dangers of assuming you know more than everyone else and I learned how to get along with people. I learned so much about getting results in all kinds of different situations. I learned how business works, I learned the basics of sales and I learned how data moves behind the scenes and how to get things done in the IT world. The people that have worked closely with me can vouch that Florida Blue got its money’s worth from me. But what I find myself focusing on now as I try to transition my work is just how much I got from the company.

My father worked at Florida Blue for years before I arrived. That means I was being supported by the company before I even worked there. I met my best friend and my wife there along with countless other friends and outstanding relationships that I treasure today. Florida Blue gave me the opportunity to finish my education. It also gave me the opportunities to grow into my own as a leader, making decisions and living with and learning from the consequences. I can’t say enough good things about the company as a whole.

The question that I get the most is also the most obvious, why leave? Obviously it wasn’t an easy decision. The money had to be right of course, but it’s bigger than that. I owe it to myself at this point in my career to stretch my horizons. Much of my knowledge is institutionalized at this point. My first year at another good company will introduce me to countless differences that will help to shift and balance my experience. This will round out my experience nicely and has the potential to help me grow exponentially. I love Florida Blue. I think it’s one of the best companies in the country, but I know that if I remain there for my entire career that I will prevent myself from maximizing my potential due to the homogenous nature my experience.

And so I find myself saying goodbye to so many familiar sights and people. It’s not the first time that I’ve initiated an unexpected change in the direction of my career, but it is definitely the most difficult. I want to say thank you to all of the people that I worked with over the last 16 years. Thank you for your patience, your kindness and for all of the lessons that you have taught me. I have loved working with you and I will miss you dearly.

Sincerely,
Jonathan Oakes

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Lost in Transition

I’m sorry for the decreased writing output lately. Things have been a little tough on the home front. I’ve actually written a couple of articles over the last two weeks, but I don’t think I’m going to publish them. I don’t like the first one very much after reading it (go figure) and I’m just not sure if I believe the other one yet. While I won’t elaborate on the first article, the second is going to be the foundation of what follows.

Work has been tough lately. I’ve experienced much more failure in the last few months than I’m used to. It appears that I haven’t pissed anybody off too badly because management is still supportive, but I’m personally frustrated with myself and with the circumstances that I didn’t do a better job of mitigating. On top of that, my department is going through a re-organization. Read the rest of this entry

Employees, Ownership, Leadership and Faith

I love sports. Sports are ripe with opportunities to discuss teamwork due to the public nature of its product. Every fan can tell if a team is succeeding or failing by its performance each week. As a Jacksonville Jaguars fan I am intimately familiar with the chicken/egg argument about the performance of a manager and his employees. After all, whose fault is the team’s poor performance – the coaches or the players? The truth is that it could be either or both.

Over 250 men worked on the Eiffel Tower

Good teamwork is a two way street. A good leader can’t build the Eiffel Tower without good workers just like the best group of workers in the world can’t build a house without a blueprint. It’s a symbiotic relationship. Let’s dig in by looking at employees from the perspective of a manager. Most employees can be categorized in one of three buckets: Read the rest of this entry

Decision Making

Author’s note:

I hope everyone is enjoying the build-up to Christmas. This is slowly but surely becoming one of my favorite times of the year. I think it has something to do with the fact that I can get away with whistling Christmas carols without people looking at my funny. In any case, I don’t foresee this being a long article this weekend. I’ve been maxing out at work the last couple of weeks which has minimized my writing time. That being said, I want to keep my weekly pattern going. Last month marked the 1 year anniversary of Bootstraps. I’m so happy with the year’s worth of progress, so happy with myself for sticking with it and most of all I’m so happy for all of you who have been along for the ride with me. If you’ve gotten half as much out of it as I have then it’s been a win/win.

Decision Making

Decision making is one of the most important skills that we have, both and work and at home. The ability to make high quality decisions quickly is one of the key traits shared by successful people. It makes me laugh at myself when I say that because it convicts me for the willy-nilly way that I make decisions around the house. At home decisions are typically based on a quick calculation of priority, emergency and effort. In other words:

Do I have to get off the couch? Yes.

Is it an emergency? No.

Ok, I’ll make it a priority later.

Ok, it’s not that bad, well, not all the time. I should probably do something about it, but it doesn’t seem like an emergency, I’ll make sure to get to it later :-).

While our decision making at home can be suspect (re: lazy), we don’t get that luxury at work. The decisions that we make throughout the day at work drive our reputation and ultimately our success. Yet for some people it seems that their process is no more rigorous than flippant way I described my process at home. It doesn’t have to be that way though. There is actually a common factor that can be used to predict good decision making and poor decisions making – Information. Read the rest of this entry

The Folly of Youth

Edith and I were watching the first episode of Top Chef: Texas last night. One of the contestants was a young man named Tyler who was 22 years old. As soon as I saw his age I began to wonder what in the world he was doing there. This is a serious competition for some seriously talented chefs, how in the world did a 22 year old get in the door? Then he started talking – so Cocky! He thought he was God’s gift to cooking. He was ready to show the world how great he was.

The first challenge involved butchering a pig. Butchering requires some skill. Apparently there are some cuts of meat found within others so it’s important to know what you’re doing. Tyler had no butchering experience. He said that his catering company had a person who butchered the meat before he got it. That didn’t stop him from stepping up to the plate and volunteering to butcher a significant portion of the hog. As he failed to butcher the meat correctly with a cleaver, hacksaw and knife we were treated to an interview where he explains that he was the best person for the job because there was nobody else in the kitchen that could do a better job.

I wasn't kidding about the hacksaw

Tom Colicchio, the shows head judge and longtime restaurateur, stopped by to see how Tyler was doing. He immediately pointed out that the young man had completely ruined the tenderloin, one of the cuts of meat within another, and was doing a terrible job. The young man tried to play it off, but Tom had none of it and eliminated him from the show immediately. Read the rest of this entry

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