Tag Archives: business

Sabbatical Day 59 – Work and Work and School

Well, I apologize for the long time without posting.  Suffice it to say that I’ve had a pretty crazy couple weeks.  There’s been some work stuff and other work stuff, and some school stuff.  Here we go:

Work Stuff 1 – There have been some interesting challenges at work with culture.  It’s inevitable, I suppose, with being on sabbatical.  Me leaving has been a huge stress on the team in so many ways, but in particular, there’s been a great deal of adjustment in team dynamics.  I’ve had several tough conversations with people really concerned about what’s going on.  The dynamics will heal, but the stress is very very real.

Work Stuff 2 – Not connected to the earlier bit of work stuff, we had one of our senior employees ask for a change in role… and it’s a good thing… but it left us with no one to take care of marketing and content.  So, after consultation with my business partners Melanie and Travis, and in consultation with my wife, I have decided to volunteer to temporarily take on that role, part-time, until we can find a suitable person to do it full-time.  That will probably not be until the new year.  So, I’ll put in some extra hours in the afternoons.  I’m actually quite excited about the temporary return to the work I did early in the life of the business.

What will it mean in practical terms?  Well, I’ll be using some techniques from the Kanban method to act as a facilitator for the delivery of the marketing and content service.  I’ll get help from the rest of the team, of course, in both ideas about marketing and with people actually doing the work of marketing.  And I’ll be helping to evolve policies about how the work gets prioritized, chosen, and delivered.  It’s back to basics since I won’t have capacity for anything really sophisticated.

The one big change is that based on the advice and consultation with one of our external advisors, we are putting in place a new metric for our marketing efforts that will drive our strategy and activities.  I’m always wary of over-measuring, and of using metrics without extreme care.  Therefore, even the use of metrics is an experiment to me.  I will be monitoring how it affects the culture of our organization.

I’m also concerned about “coming back” during my sabbatical, no matter how limited.  That said, I also take personal responsibility for the health of the business.  There is a need, and since I have the flexibility to support it, I can’t do anything but rise to it.  Of course, there are lots of confidential details about the operation of the business that I’m not sharing here, but suffice it to say that I hope I’m exercising wisdom and judgement in doing this.

School Stuff – I had my first midterm exam last Thursday in Mathematics 3020 – Introduction to Abstract Algebra.  It was my first exam in over 23 years.  I’ve shared before that this class is pretty hard.  I studied somewhere between 15 and 20 hours in preparation for the exam in addition to the regular homework assigned for the class.  That’s more than I’ve studied for any exam ever in my life.  Honestly, I wish I had studied more.  In particular, I wish that I had started studying a week earlier… during reading week!

But I studied hard, and I was super excited (nervous and enthusiastic).  The morning of, I hadn’t had as much sleep as I wanted, so I had a half-cup of coffee (that’s way more than I normally have!)  I got to the Western Campus quite early just to make sure.  I did a quick last minute-review of some notes.  And then wrote the exam.

It was fun!

In fact, by the end of the 2 hour exam, I was super-high on adrenaline and the joy of math. I could barely contain myself.  I actually cried from joy.  I know that’s probably hard to relate to: someone crying from joy doing a mathematics exam… but that’s how much I love this field.  It’s challenging, it’s beautiful, and it gives me a deep sense of peace and harmony, that the universe has a foundation created by the Ultimate Intelligence.

The exam itself?  Well, I hope I find out soon how I did.  I suspect I did better than I feared and worse than I hoped… probably between 70 and 80% based on what I completed and a fudge factor for stupid mistakes.  I ran out of time and probably would have been able to finish if I had another 30 minutes (or if I had studied more).  I also confused the concepts of “well-defined” and “homomorphism” for a time and had to erase and re-do a question when I realized my mistake.

Again, it was incredibly fun.  And now I know what I need to do to prepare for the final!

Sabbatical Countdown T-53 Days

I have been approved for a sabbatical by my business partners (Melanie and Travis) and I have most of the needed things in place in our business (www.berteig.com) so that it will thrive while I am away, and I begin a full year sabbatical starting September 4th, 2018!

This has been a long time coming.  I started thinking about a sabbatical at least 6 years ago.  I’ve been over-stressed, over-worked, and going through a lot of both business and personal challenges.  With Melanie, I started the business in 2004.  We had a number of up and down cycles in the business with the latest down cycle ending in 2014.  It’s been solid growth and maturation of the business since then.  We have grown from 5 employees (including partners) to our current 15 employees.  We have established a solid reputation in public training, private training and coaching/consulting work. Our employees know how to run things.

I have also been considering going back to school for many years.  Both my father and my mother went to get Masters degrees in their late 30’s.  I’m in my 40’s and I’m ready to do the same.  I’ve considered an MBA or EMBA, but they don’t appeal to me.  I’ve considered other possibilities related to business such as leadership.  But really what I want to do is Mathematics.  Several months ago, in anticipation of the possibility of a sabbatical, I applied to University of Western Ontario (“Western”) and after a bit of back and forth on my first degree, I was accepted.  Just in the past  two weeks, I have received confirmation that many of my mathematics courses from my first degree will be allowed as alternatives to the normal prerequisites.  So, starting in September, I will be taking two math courses.  One is a second year course and the other is a third year course.  I’m super excited.

I also, and more importantly, will be spending a lot of time with my family.  I’ve been so busy with work that my four kids know me mostly as a worker.  Travelling, late nights in the home office, weekend interruptions, etc.  The cost of running a small, struggling business.  My kids, being that they are human, have various challenges they are facing and I hope to be more involved in helping them face their challenges and overcome them.  Better late than never.  I’m not the dad that I thought I would be (i’ll probably expand on that more later).

So, as I count down towards my sabbatical, I will start documenting here my interests and my passions and my experiences.  Stay tuned for mathematics, family, philosophy, religion, fiction, and all the other things that make up my life as I experience much less work for a year.

Archive Journal Entry: 20030210

I’m going to try having firesides every Wednesday night at my place in Jersey City. I have to buy furniture first 🙂 Maybe I’ll try Ikea. At the least, I should probably get four chairs and a dinner table. I’d also like a futon bed/couch and a bunch of cushions. A little office furniture would be nice too.

Melanie and I talked this weekend about plans for the 5-year plan. Melanie is going to try to start child friendly devotional gatherings and study circles. I’m going to go to a Ruhi Book One study circle here in Jersey City starting in early March.

This week I’m going to get myself set up so that I have a serious high speed internet connection at home. I will move my servers from Barrie (they are currently with Apexia Voice and Data – excellent people and service, just located inconveniently for me now). I will be getting a 3mbps/640kbps ADSL service from Bell using my current class C IP set. To do this, I need to get a business telephone line, get the ADSL service, cancel my Apexia account, get rid of my current Roger cable (also good but doesn’t allow static IP), and get rid of our residential phone line. All told, doing this will save about $100/month. I’m probably going to have to figure out the transition stuff which could be complicated. I rely on the server for my email so it can’t be down for much more than a day.