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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

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

A Case of Overcompensation

Writing is funny. Sometimes I’ll have weeks’ worth of ideas for articles and I can’t wait to get them on paper. Other times I’m sitting down, staring a blank screen and wondering if the mouse has stopped running on his wheel in my head. This week I’m stocked full of story ideas but they are all being preempted by a story that my wife told me at dinner tonight.

Definitely hard shoes to fill

Earlier this year my wife was working at a major international bank. Not too long ago she got a great job offer from BCBSFL and came back where at all started. We learned recently that the bank backfilled her position with a person they recruited from BCBSFL. I suppose I’m biased, but I think it’s fair of me to tell those of you who don’t know my wife that it would be very hard to try to step into her shoes. She’s one of the most effective people I’ve ever seen in the work environment. I actually felt a little bad for the guy.

At least, I did. Tonight I learned that this person has been telling lies at the bank about phony interactions with my wife from the past when they both worked at Blue Cross. For her part, my wife didn’t recognize the name when she heard who was backfilling her old spot. However, apparently this person has been claiming to be the person that they would send my wife’s work to in the old days to make sure that it made sense. He’s been implying that my wife wasn’t as trusted as he was in this imagined past. Read the rest of this entry

Your Guide to Avoiding Displacement

Displacements are an ugly fact of life in the world of big business. Sometimes they occur because the company has become more efficient or automated a process and rendered some jobs unnecessary. Sometimes it happens because organizations are realigned and redundancy is identified and eliminated. Sometimes it happens simply because the company needs to spend less money to improve their bottom line.

These situations can be unfortunate. Sometimes very good people are caught up in the backdraft and don’t have a chance to save themselves. In many, if not most, cases the people being displaced would have held down their job for years performing at an average level. These are typically not people who would ever be fired; they aren’t bad enough for that.

As a result, this is a very touchy subject. When someone is displaced they do not want to believe that it’s anything they could have prevented. It feels better to believe that they just got caught up in a numbers game. We disagree with that way of thinking here at Bootstraps. Here we believe in growth, we believe in self-development. It’s a harder road, but it is the road to success and the road to fulfillment. The path down this road starts with a simple decision. It’s the decision to take personal responsibility, to be accountable. That means that we look at the good and the bad in life and try to see what we can learn from it. What could we have done differently? What could we have done better that would have led to a different outcome?

The truth is that you have a significant amount of control over whether or not you are displaced. Keep reading and you’ll find 3 things that you can do immediately to increase your chances to staying employed. Before we get there, you may wonder why I believe that we have more control than we think. Read the rest of this entry

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