How one colleague's failure to do the right thing became the benchmark for the four who followed—and the damage they left in their wake.

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

“Wisdom Begins In Wonder” ― Socrates

You cannot be, I know, nor do I wish to see you, an inactive spectator. . . . We have too many high sounding words, and too few actions that correspond with them.  ― Abigail Adams

April 10, 2014

As I am a connoisseur of silver linings, I have made the most of my exile that railroaded me from this bank 3 years ago this month. Nevertheless, what was unjustly taken from me is never far from the forefront of my mind. One might wonder why I would waste my time on those in the academic shop that so ridiculously robbed me of my dream job on my very first day. Purely on the merits of a mindset that systematically sharpens knowledge—their shop is by far the best I’ve ever seen. But like anyone else, they have their weaknesses. They’ve been insulated in their bubble of excellence for so long that they lost their humanity along the way—and clearing my name and reinstating my contract would be the first step in finding it again. I could walk into that shop and start working tomorrow without being burdened in the slightest by what these people put me through—which is a brand of integrity that takes time and effort to develop. I’m in pretty good company with that attitude, as Einstein himself said, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.”

All the more confounding is that Bank of America has this amazing crew as a model of excellence in so many forms—and yet hardly anyone outside that group even knows about it. It is a monumental failure at the highest levels that the same company could harbor such high standards in one group—while systemic mediocrity is tolerated in pockets of others. It’s always the bad apples that poison the waters of possibility—and incredibly, we have created a culture that caters to such kind.

I wouldn’t want to miss out on any of the experiences that have come my way as a result of this fiasco. From my work in Reno to the documentary I released in May 2014, I have turned my distress into once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. My 7-part YouTube video is not directly related to the bank—but as it deals with human nature, the illustrations of imprudence parallel the same principles of pure folly: MountEverestOfTheObvious.com

Mount Everest Of The Obvious_Postcard_front

Mount Everest Of The Obvious_Postcard_back

**********************************

January 21, 2012

I’m the man on a mission all bundled up every morning from 7-10 outside of Starbucks at Bank of America – Gateway Village. Even under unpleasant conditions, I enjoy reading my John Adams book every day, and it’s been a pleasure meeting all those who have stopped by to learn of my plight. But whether the support comes as a quick kind word, a conversation, or you just knelt down to pick up a flier as you walked by—your curiosity and concern means more to me than you will ever know.

The purpose of this blog is to provide the backstory for those who might like to know more about how all this happened. What drives a person to invest hundreds of dollars into having professional signs made for a protest? As it turns out though, apparently there is only one sign that really matters—The Fraudulent 5.

That sign is not only creating a stir in the neighborhood, but I’ve also been threatened with a civil lawsuit if I don’t take it down—and I’m not budging one bit. I’ve got this document called the Constitution on my side, but even more important than that—I have the truth. The Fraudulent 5 may be embarrassed, but their collective humiliation is nothing compared to what I have experienced since this saga began in the summer of 2010.

Please feel free to contact me at rmemmer@carolina.rr.com should you have any questions or comments of any kind.

Thank you for taking the time to care!

Richard W. Memmer

Apathy has a tendency to do something that is very insidious. When allowed to creep into our heart, we have a tendency to want to justify our apathy—our lack of wanting to take action. . . . To do that, we must, rather than take the blame ourselves for our apathy, we must attack the message giver.

—Pastor Michael Furlong

Snapshot of the Story

This is my protest handout which is an overview of my ordeal:

In the context of this story, I am the only person who faithfully did his job. I was rewarded with behavior in line with the following:

The Fraudulent 5—by the numbers

The names of my nemeses are nowhere to be found on this site. I believe in having a sense of proportionality in my purpose, and broadcasting their identities on the internet seems over-the-top to me. They’re exposed on a sidewalk outside Gateway Village because it’s the scene of the crime, and it’s my only conduit to communicate with them. As addressed later in the story, I started this crusade for justice last July, and originally there was no “Fraudulent 5” sign. I came up with it months later knowing that the only hope I have is to make this personal—as the bank doesn’t seem to care about my other signs that call them into question.

Had BofA shown some concern last summer, we could have resolved all this a long time ago. I’m actually a pretty forgiving guy, but you can’t learn from mistakes until you acknowledge them–and I aim to stick around until they do. None of this would be necessary if The Fraudulent 5 had a notion of degree–and didn’t hide behind rules that allow you to boot somebody out the door on a whim.

From here on out the The Fraudulent 5 will be referenced according to their position on the sign. Where grouping is appropriate, #1 and #2 will be called The Top 2 and the rest belong to The Bottom 3.

#1: Runs the whole show in the academic shop I joined in April 2011, and outside of this story, he’s an excellent manager from what I know of him. Our paths had crossed before, and given that bit of history and how far I have come—I expected a lot more from a man of his caliber. I’ve seen magnificent management in this bank, so my vision of the possible is not a fairytale.

#2: Hired me and he works for #1. I was immediately impressed by him–as he was talking my language from the get-go. We would have gotten along famously had he not turned this into a fiasco over nothing. It’s a testament to how highly I think of the The Top 2 on the whole that I’m still seething over this. It astounds me that they were taken in by the folly from a shop that’s a polar opposite of theirs–making frivolous assumptions that fit squarely into false equivalence.

#3: Manager of #4 and also over #5. Inherent in his job, #3 had a responsibility for oversight, but there was none to be found.

#4: Business Analyst who is a dedicated employee on the whole, but that doesn’t excuse being the catalyst for all this nonsense.

#5: My team leader. It’s beyond belief that a man could sit there having an enjoyable lunch with me on my last day–and not bother to mention that little detail. It doesn’t matter to me if my ousting was out of his control–he had an inherent responsibility to inform me of my impending doom.

The 6th Man: A servile soul who heard a lunchtime story then bolted from the table to tattle. I don’t even know his name. He just happened to be sitting where my colleagues and I sat down for lunch on the very first day of my dream job–and seemingly with glee he brought the whole thing down.

I fail to understand how someone’s future could be treated so casually, and maybe that’s because my mindset operates in a world where handshake integrity still matters.

Note: I’m not blacklisted for being fired—I’m a pariah because I had the nerve to question the unconscionable actions of those involved.

The Green

I’ve been in and out the banks in Charlotte since 1998 (10 times in total at BofA)—almost all of which was contracting. I was an employee at Bank of America once (and had an opportunity to be one again), but for a variety of reasons I ended up sticking to contracting. But as wonderful as most of my experiences have been, I’m tired of bouncing around, and was hoping that I would become a permanent member of the crew I joined last April.

It’s not easy having to prove yourself over and over again—and sometimes just when you’ve started to really gel with a group, the contract’s over. But I have a long history at Bank of America—twice in CRM Services, over 3 years with Business Capital (including an integral role during the Fleet merger), and tack on another 3 years in other groups. I got that phenomenal job in Business Capital because of a colleague I worked with in CRM Services. I guess I must have done something right.

But I’ve been wrong a number of times, too—but not this time. I’ve allowed my zeal to get the best of me on occasion—but not this time. How all this started amounts to a few emails coupled with a chat log—all of which would fit on a few pages at most. Had I sat back and done the bare minimum, my name would still be in good standing with the bank. Had I not looked out for the customers and anticipated their concerns—or took cue from #4 and just flat-out ignored them in this instance, The Fraudulent 5 would never be. If you look at BofA’s core beliefs, everything I did in pursuit of the right thing was perfectly in line with them–and yet I was shown disdain for my efforts.

I think people lose sight of how glorious it is to get paid to think, share ideas, and be under the gun to deliver. There is a new journey to be discovered every go-around, and I’ve seen such magnificence in the way relationships can be built in the trenches of trying times.

Doing the right thing often comes with a price, but even after this nightmare, I’m still willing to risk it. Indeed, I will fine tune my approach for next time, but I don’t imagine the source of this conflict has ever given his actions a second thought. And instead of #4 being called into question by his manager, he was undoubtedly rewarded for delivering our project on time. If not for this isolated incident, he would deserve it.

There is a nice park called The Green in downtown Charlotte, North Carolina. It is a pleasant place to visit with various sculptures and abstract art on display. What stands out in my mind the most are the artistic benches and chairs. On each piece are prominent letters spelling out words such as honor, truth, perseverance, and so on. All words but one lie flat on the top of the pieces. The one that sets itself apart from the rest is the word “Risk,” and its first letter is hanging on the edge.

Phoning it in

As David McCullough brings to light in his book John Adams: “But greatest of all, he wrote, was the gift of an inquiring mind.”

But all the provisions that He has [made] for the gratification of our senses . . . are much inferior to the provision of our nobler powers of intelligence and reason. He has given us reason to find out the truth, and the real design and true end of our existence. — John Adams

In February 2010 I went to work at Bank of America for the 9th time. A lot of people badmouth the bank, and they have their reasons, but this company has had an immeasurable impact on my career—and I have far more good things to say about it than bad.

With such a breadth of background in the banks, I’ve seen my share of ridiculous behavior—but The Bottom 3 would take absurdity into the abyss.

My primary interaction was with #4 and an application developer named Aravind–a phenomenal colleague on every level. I also collaborated a good bit with a database developer named Vikas–one of the most careful listeners I’ve ever seen, and a great guy to boot. Aravind developed the application and I built the database, and we hammered out quite a few nights and weekends collaborating on our incremental code. But it was #4’s baby all the way, and I cannot overstate the amount of effort he put into the business requirements, testing, and working with end-users. As I sit here in reflection, it’s hard to believe that I’m talking about the same guy.

Once we had delivered the initial project to the business, a reporting enhancement was requested to add a new piece of data. Have you ever been frustrated filling out Amazon’s gift note box because you’re limited to 240 characters? It can get a barebones message across, but it’s not quite as illuminating as what a real birthday card can provide. That piece of data we were asked to add to the report was an email chock-full of loan information, and our customers needed to tap into the details of that field for it to be of any use.

What we gave them was 15 more characters than the maximum allowed in Amazon’s gift note.

Shouldn’t we start by asking if this is the best we can do? The whole point of having a report is to be able to glean information and make decisions from it, so it defeats the purpose if you have to go back and forth between the report and the system—which is exactly what they ended up doing.

It bewilders me that a dedicated business analyst who should know better did not recognize the futility of providing such limited information. We all make blunders from time to time, and that’s okay—so long as we’re willing to be called on it. When I politely raised my concerns right off the bat, I was stunned to see that a man of #4’s ability could be so brazenly careless in his response:

“It doesn’t matter since the users already accepted it.”

Never mind that he incorrectly informed them in the first place, and that I had a way around the problem. I took the initiative to follow up on my concerns, and when I submitted my unsanctioned solution, I was immediately rebuffed by #4 without so much as a “thanks anyway.” At that point I felt that had done everything I could do to look out for our customers, so I dropped it. A week later the users came out with the same concerns I had been addressing all along. I figured I had some backing now that they were unhappy, so I tried one last time to offer up my solution, and this is what #4 wrote in return:

“This issue was NOT assigned to you. . . . I do not care if your point was correct.”

The all-capped “not” should speak volumes all by itself. In all my years in this business I had never seen such flagrant disregard, and it’s telling of the management that he felt free to cast such derision upon a colleague. A simple gesture of “I appreciate your effort, but we need to go in another direction” would have been nice—and the right thing to do (since Excel is not a good format for reading such output anyway).

My response to his rebuke could have been better, but expressing reasonable frustration with a colleague’s irresponsible and obnoxious behavior is not grounds for termination–not by anyone with an inkling of objectivity and fairness.

That my solution was not accepted is not at issue–it’s the gross negligence and flat-out contempt that took place in the process. The next day I was having an enjoyable lunch with Vikas and #5—having no idea that it would be our last. And what are the odds that almost a year later, I would meet a friend of theirs at lunch on the first day of the most exciting opportunity of my career? You can say I’m foolish for my honesty, but when he connected me to that 2010 contract, I told everyone at the table the full story. Acting as if I had infiltrated the bank after being convicted of money laundering, The 6th Man left the table to expose the “treachery” he had uncovered. I was on my way home when I got a call from the agency telling me that the manager called and said, “It’s not going to work out.”

How did we get to a point where prudence is shunned to serve expedience at all costs?

Note: As mentioned in my protest handout in the “Snapshot of the Story” section at the end: “On my first day I was essentially fired for having been fired, which I could see grounds for had I lied about last year, but both my application and interviews were honest in every way.” Evidence of that honesty is in the following screenshot of the employment history section of my application.

All of this nonsense simply because I wanted to provide something better than what amounts to Amazon’s little box below.

“The blindness of the narcissist to others can extend even beyond a lack of empathy; narcissists may not ‘see’ others at all.” – M. Scott Peck

The 6th Man had a look on his face that was devoid of empathy. It didn’t matter to this guy that his friends were the people I took to lunch on my last day (and bought for us all, no less). It meant nothing to him that I was honest when I didn’t have to be. What on Earth possessed this person to be so hell-bent on destruction?

When I finished the story there was mostly silence, and moments later he was gone–without a notion of “nice to meet you.” I turned to the colleague to my right (who sat just a couple of cubes down from me) and said, “Jeez, I hope this isn’t going to be a problem.” And in the most magnificent manner imaginable, he waved it off while saying, “Ah, don’t worry about it–everybody’s got something in their past!”

If only The Top 2 of The Fraudulent 5 had felt the same way.

House of Cards

In the summer of 2010 I was seriously considering buying a house for the very first time. I was really excited about meeting the realtor that Saturday, so imagine my disgust when I got the call about my firing the night before. It became obvious why #5 tried so hard to pay me for his lunch—practically forcing me to take a few bucks to ease his conscience. I refused the money because I had invited them out and thought it would be a nice gesture to treat them. I don’t believe he had anything to do with my firing, but he didn’t even have the courage to tell me what was about to happen.

If someone deserves to be terminated, his or her personal life should not be taken into account–this is a business and it’s just part of life that things don’t work out sometimes. That you could fire someone over something so frivolous is an entirely different matter. It demonstrates an utter lack of regard for another person’s future—without the slightest concern of the domino effect caused by such damage.

My parents have been hoping that I would get a house for many years. They would love to come and visit for a few months at a time, especially since my dad can’t travel much due to a very painful disease called neuropathy. I cannot overstate that I do not bring this up to elicit sympathy, but rather to illustrate the impact of imprudence. Adding insult to injury, I had to tell my dad on Father’s Day that I had gotten fired over nothing—so much for the house.

Before my dream job came along in April of 2011, it was slow going here and there, but I managed get some good work. I was going to make sure I would never put myself in another situation like that again, so I would be more strategic than ever about my career choices. I studied like crazy and did everything I could do to prepare myself for a better opportunity. When I was looking for my next job, I read technical books day and night—combing through every exercise to ensure my understanding. And it paid off!

Only to be robbed of it all in single day.

Eye for Excellence letter

After exacting my fury for being thrown out like garbage the first time, I started thinking about why such incidents occur in the first place. I tied that question to the ideas I’ve had for years—which are in parallel to the academic shop I was invited to join. Less than a week after I was fired in 2010 I wrote the original draft of the letter below, and then shared it with others to get their input.

One thing led to another in the most organic way, and in no time it became a genuine team endeavor. In a flurry of fun emails–we discussed, challenged, corrected, reflected, refined, and all the goods that go with true collaboration. Not a single word was immune from scrutiny regardless of the source, and our efforts mirror the guiding principles in the letter itself. Speaking of reflections, I thought my team was deserving of something far more than a pat on the back, so the Eye For Excellence award was born.

Most people said that no one would respond, and deep down I knew they were probably right, but it was worth a shot. And besides, it was an enlightening experience to work with friends and family on the writing project. Few things excite me more than the evolution of quality, along with sharing the process in service of the best ideas–no matter whose they are.

But I was ecstatic to find that a Senior VP Architect Executive had left me a voicemail about my letter soon after it went out, and we had a great conversation a few days later. It was really gratifying that someone was willing to take the time to dig a little deeper into what I had to say, and I sincerely hope that my offering was of some benefit to him.

As an ironic twist, that Senior VP works in the very group that I got fired from the first time around. Imagine that! Even without his response, I’m sure that the president of Home Loans & Insurance would not condone the behavior of those involved in my termination, but it speaks volumes that someone high up in her group did respond. I got fired for being committed to the very ideals that the higher-ups are pursuing.

Eye for Excellence award

 

“In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity” — Einstein

The Fraudulent 5 are too easily satisfied in their certainty, and such behavior fosters intellectual dishonesty. Dictionary.com defines “insight” as: “penetrating mental vision or discernment; faculty of seeing into inner character or underlying truth.” A lot of people think they’re insightful, but far fewer can square that belief with the definition above–particularly when the matter is personal.

The Fraudulent 5 shirked the most fundamental duties of their jobs, and absolved themselves of accountability simply because a contract says they can. I was under the impression that Do The Right Thing was Bank of America’s prime directive.

Everyone invited to work in that academic shop is a thinker by definition, but The Top 2 of The Fraudulent 5 failed in their dealings with me because they didn’t live up to their very own standards—and what’s worse, they didn’t even try. Under normal circumstances, I’m sure The Top 2 are intellectually curious, thorough, and judicious—yet none of those qualities can be found in their judgment of me.

Given that I was treated so carelessly, why would I want to work with anyone involved in this story? I see people on the whole of who they are, and strictly on the merits of how The Top 2 ordinarily operate, I still believe in them. There is a book called Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, and The Top 2 are very much in line with what is advocated in that book. On and off over the years, I have been writing a book about how intellectual curiosity is correlated to everything we become. Imagine my joy when I found the following in Multipliers:

It is not surprising that the highest-rated practice for Multipliers was “Intellectual Curiosity.” Multipliers create genius in others because they are fundamentally curious and spark learning around them. This curiosity takes the form of an insatiable need for deep organizational understanding. The question “why” is at the core of their thinking. They ponder possibilities. They want to learn from people around them. At the heart of any challenge is intellectual curiosity: I wonder if we could do the impossible?

Think of the pride The Top 2 would have to swallow to meet my demands and reinstate my contract in their academic shop. No doubt it would be a colossal embarrassment for anyone in their shoes, but I know from personal experience that sucking it up and admitting that you’re wrong will earn you respect in the end. They would come to find that it would be one of the best decisions they ever made, because it would build character in areas they didn’t know were lacking.

I wonder if we could do the impossible.

“I wouldn’t give you two cents for all your fancy rules if, behind them, they didn’t have a little bit of plain, ordinary, everyday kindness and a – a little lookin’ out for the other fella, too…” — Senator Smith in Mr. Smith Goes to Washington

I made polite efforts to reason with The Top 2 (by email as well as the old-fashioned way with professional letters in envelopes). An enormous amount of effort went into everything I wrote. The night I was fired on that first day I stayed up all night writing like my life depended on it. I was starving when I got the news, but I didn’t eat until well into the next day. Every fiber of my being was on fire, and that was all the sustenance I needed. As supplemental material, I included that email in the section at the end called “A Matter of Record.”

But they ignored my attempts to connect with them on any level. I find it maddening that some people allow for no possibility to move a conversation in the face of new information—and yet see themselves as “civil” at the same time.

After being blown off as if it were a virtue, at some point I fired off an email berating The Fraudulent 5 for what they did, and not long after that I received a ”cease and desist” letter from Bank of America. It was pretty demeaning that after all the years of tireless service at the bank, I was being treated like a criminal—while people who failed to do their jobs went unscathed. I was not going to allow my reputation to be ruined by these people, so I came up with the idea of protesting the bank—in a style not seen before. I had never protested anything in public, so this was uncharted territory for me. I wasn’t comfortable with putting myself out there for all to see, but I had no other choice since I was out of options.

I started off at Gateway Village and got some interest from those walking by, but I was hoping for a bigger impact. I figured I would try planting myself outside the Corporate Center, and mix it up between there and Gateway. I was surprised to find that I had even less of a response out front of the Corporate building. While there is a great deal more traffic there, it is much more fast-paced than Gateway’s campus atmosphere—especially with a Starbucks right next to the primary entrance. For the fast-paced factor and being exposed for so many to see, I don’t think the uptown crowd is as inclined to talk to me—and I totally understand that.

With my newfound hope that amounted to a snowball’s chance in hell of getting attention from anyone of influence, I soldiered on. But as the temperature went up and my finances went down, it really got to me that it had all come to this. Knowing the consequences, eventually I wrote to The Top 2 again, only this time I included just a few of the most important people in my career–with the hope that maybe they might step up for me. It was an exercise in futility no doubt, but more than anything I did it just to make myself feel better. This time they didn’t bother with the legalese, they just went straight to the cops. I find it interesting that throughout this entire saga, the police officer who contacted me by email is the only person who conveyed a hint of compassion. He informed me that no police report had been filed, but obviously I was right on the edge if I didn’t knock it off. And so I did.

My transmission went out the same week I got that email from the officer, so my protesting days were put on hold. Little did I know that I would be ratcheting things up to a whole new level for the next round—and this time they would pay attention!

Note: In an earlier version of this section I made a mistake in the sequence of when I started the protest. A lot has happened since last summer so it got a little blurry when I was cranking this thing out.

“Straight trees are cut first and honest people are screwed first.” — Chānakya

I actually started my protest last summer, but my transmission went out before I had a chance to make my presence known. I had been unemployed since I was exiled from Bank of America on the very first day of my dream job. Officially I was still eligible to return to the bank even after being fired twice, but with my honesty there was no way I was ever getting back the door. After being ratted out for no reason, I wasn’t about to return to BofA and have someone put me through that nightmare again–so I was going to be transparent about the whole thing up-front. I have never misrepresented any aspect of this entire story, and I can back that up with my record.

But the people who interviewed me for the academic shop didn’t ask how my contract ended in 2010, they just asked about what I did in the job. Had they asked about how the contract came to a close, I would have answered honestly, and most likely not gotten the offer. No manager wants to hear about that kind of drama, so there is no reason to bring it up unless you’re asked a question that obligates you to answer–which I will deliver truthfully even knowing the consequences. All they had to do was look at my application though, for it clearly states in my employment history that I was terminated in 2010 for telling a colleague he acted in an unprofessional manner.

And now I’m an outcast–because of people who didn’t even rise to the bare minimum of their responsibility by any reasonable standard.

“Go West, young man” — popularized by Horace Greeley (original source seems to be in question)

Well, not so young anymore, but I did go out west for a while–which I’ll get to momentarily. I came up with the idea to protest the bank because I was incensed by the way I was treated, and it’s unconscionable that my reputation is forever tarnished over something so ludicrous. The only way I would ever get any leverage was to exercise my Constitutional rights in a way that I never fully appreciated until now.

But my arrangement would be a far cry from the standard approach to protesting. I came up with the idea for a portable station consisting of a comfortable chair and a 4-sided sign surrounding an A-frame designed for 2. No offense to anyone who prefers the conventional approach to peaceful assembly, but I have no interest in walking around with a sign and getting in anyone’s way. My prime directive is that I do not engage unless engaged first. I let my sign convey my message, but I’m happy to talk to anyone who’s interested in learning more. And if I’m going to spend a few hours hanging around, I would rather occupy my time with some good reading–though I will close that book in a heartbeat to answer any questions the curious may have.

But the first round wouldn’t last long, for my transmission went on the fritz during a trip to D.C. And then a couple of job opportunities came along. One of them was a great opportunity for an 18-month contract with Wells Fargo. I had a 3-hour phone interview with one of the SQL developers, and when I was done nailing almost every answer–we just kept on going with exchanging ideas. Okay, so I had lost my dream job, but here was someone I would love to work with, and I think the feeling was mutual–so I felt that the in-person interview would be pretty much a formality. I must admit that I didn’t do as well as I could have, but I’m fairly certain that it was my answer to the manager’s “What about this gap in your resume?” that doomed me. After everything I had been through, I still told the truth–and I could feel it was over with every word. I really liked that manager, too, so the nightmare just never ends.

The other opportunity was a short-term contract in Reno, Nevada–and so off I went. Needless to say, they didn’t ask me anything that intersected with this ridiculous drama that plagues me.

In the misery of an agonizing illness, I came up with “The Fraudulent 5”

After 4 months in a hotel, I was ready to go home, but before I left I came down with a sore throat unlike anything I had ever experienced. After some pain pills and some sleep, I got better after a week–and then came down with other problems coupled with a cough that still hasn’t gone away. At the time, I could not have imagined that anything good could come from such torment, but a trip to CVS with a colleague and friend changed all that.

While we were waiting on my drugs, I was showing him pictures of the new signs I had recently ordered. “You’re not required to be ethical—as long as you’re legal…” is the title of my handout, so I wanted that as one of the larger signs (which replaced “Bank of America: Bank of Stolen Opportunity”). Last summer I was watching James Woods on Piers Morgan Tonight, and he was talking about playing the CEO of Lehman Brothers in the movie Too Big To Fail, and said the following: “Here’s the problem with what’s happened to our culture: You’re not required to be ethical—as long as you’re legal.” I was floored that somebody could so perfectly capture the essence of both that story and mine in so few words.

The second new sign (which would replace one of the “Higher Standards” signs) was originally going to list names of my nemeses–with a heading of: “Just a Few of the Fraudulent.” I wasn’t crazy about it, but it got the idea across and it was the best I could come up with at the time. So, I’m showing a picture of the sign sample on my phone, and my friend says to me: “I don’t like that comma between the 2 names on one line.” He was right on the money–on both the comma and the idea that each name should have its own line. I had a space constraint given the size of that sign, but I knew this had to be fixed. Short of going with a smaller font, the only way to resolve the problem was to come up with a title that didn’t take up 2 lines. Within a minute or two I turned to him and said, “Hey, you know how many names are on that sign–5!” And in that very instance an alliteration match made in heaven was born–once again improving on an idea based on the input of others.

“For pride is spiritual cancer: it eats up the very possibility of love, or contentment, or even common sense.” — C.S. Lewis

Every day I drive downtown to set up my protest station, I pass by the scene of the crime at the Gateway Village cafeteria on 5th street. For a fleeting moment I glance through the glass to remember what could have been.

I wonder how The 6th Man feels about being the catalyst for so much destruction–now that his friend is on a sidewalk sign right out front of Starbucks. All of this could have been avoided had these people shown me even a modicum of common decency, and to this day their pride prevents them from finding even the slightest remorse over what they put me through. Their refusal to recognize the obvious reminds me of one of my all-time favorite lines spoken by the great Al Pacino in The Insider:

And now, even now, when every word of what Wigand has said on our show is printed, the entire deposition of his testimony in a court of law in the State of Mississippi, the cat—TOTALLY out of the bag, you’re still standing here—debating!

But they are not alone, for their actions are in line with how we have devolved as a society in our capacity for communication and intellectual honesty. That’s a huge topic and outside the scope of this site, but I would like to point out that our conveniences are slowly eroding our ability to think things through. While telecommuting is a wonderful feature of today’s world, communication skills have suffered from such isolation. Tapping away on smart phones in meetings (and even presentations) has become accepted behavior—never mind the time-honored tradition of showing courtesy to those who have the floor. Instead of becoming more efficient with our exceptional tools, too many people are now more distracted, distant, and shortsighted–all of which is connected to what happened to me.

As a person who works from home right now, and has done so on and off for years, I’m certainly not advocating that we return to the way things used to be. But we need to realize that something very wrong is going on here, and it goes much deeper than Bank of America and 5 guys on a sign.

There is nothing more edifying than taking a trip to another point of view.

Long before Facebook came out with Timeline, I had created my own with a story called “FULL_CIRCLE.” In another twisted bit of irony, while I was working on it I thought that landing that dream job was the culmination of all of those pursuits–only to be smacked down just like how my journey began 25 years ago. I was robbed of something very important to me back then as well, but it turned out to be a great blessing in disguise. I have been building on those lessons ever since, but in all my years of unyielding zeal to accomplish my goals–the support of others has always been the cornerstone of my success.

Starting up a blog wasn’t even my idea–and I hesitated doing it. But upon reflection I decided to give it a whirl, and once I got going it became another mission in and of itself. The friend who planted the seed for the idea has been absolutely astounding in his support–sometimes turning me around on a dime with his stellar reasoning. But I cannot overstate the importance of the moral support from those who cheer me on mostly on the sidelines–and even their small suggestions are of monumental importance to me. It’s been this way for as long as I can remember being on this adventurous journey of self-discovery–people stepping up to share their brilliance in one way or another. I hope I can return the favor someday, because no amount of praise can do justice to what these people have injected into my existence.

Thank you for reading–and I very much appreciate your curiosity and concern!

Richard W. Memmer

P.S. Please feel free to contact me at rmemmer@carolina.rr.com

“One must have the adventurous daring to accept oneself as a bundle of possibilities and undertake the most interesting game in the world: Making the most of one’s best.” — Harry Emerson Fosdick

Rain or Shine

A Matter of Record

Dear #2:

I have worked with some of the finest people you could find anywhere, and many of them are copied on this email. My hope is that their memory of my dedicated service will prompt a few words on my behalf. I doubt it would be possible for anyone to be happier than I was starting today as contractor on your Bank of America team. The attitude demonstrated by that squad was astounding. At one point in the day I told [a colleague] that I was exhausted from joy, but I was eager to rest up and arrive bright and early Tuesday. It was so cool to find The Data Warehouse Toolkit waiting on my desk when I walked in. I even took a picture of the book to remember the moment when things would never be the same.

Assuming I wasn’t fired my first day for being too jovial in my eagerness to serve your diligent shop, it’s obvious what happened. How does your perception square with the letter I wrote below to Mr. Moynihan and 17 other executives last summer? I implore all of you to read that short letter so chock-full of ideas and positivity. I wonder what you’ll think knowing I started it within a week of being summarily terminated. You would be hard-pressed to find anyone else in the world who would do that for a company that fired him without a notion of decency. I fully appreciate that contractors do not get the due process afforded to FTEs, but I would like to think that at least a modicum of effort is expected of leaders when resolving any conflict. Instead of seeing contractors as commodities that can be tossed aside on a whim, I would see everyone as resources to maximize their potential—which would inherently maximize mine. Conflict of any kind would be examined with the utmost objectivity in the pursuit of fairness, and I would seize all challenges as opportunities to grow.

No objective person would see “I do not care if your point was correct” as professional conduct—“thank you anyway” would suffice. But the problem goes much deeper than a spat between colleagues who worked together fine before then. After exacting my fury for being thrown out like garbage, I became far more interested in thinking through why such incidents occur in the first place. I tied that question into the ideas I’ve had for years—which are in parallel to the very group I was so thrilled to join today. When [the Architect Executive] for Home Loans & Insurance, left me a voicemail regarding my letter last summer, I about hit the ceiling in excitement. But he had to track down my number, because I purposely left it off. Essential to my cause was that no angle for my benefit be involved, for these ideas had to be delivered as a gift on the merits alone. Last but far from least, I wrote the original draft and then shared it with others to get their input. One thing led to another, and in the most organic way, it became a genuine team endeavor. In a flurry of fun emails, we discussed, challenged, corrected, reflected, refined, and all the goods that go with true collaboration. Not a single word was immune from scrutiny regardless of the source, and our efforts mirror the guiding principles in the letter itself. Speaking of reflections, I thought my team was deserving of something far more than a pat on the back, so the “Eye For Excellence” award was born.

 Sincerely,

 Richard W. Memmer

P.S. Everything below the exec letter is there for the purpose of transparency. Even if the exchanges boil down to a misunderstanding, could anyone argue that I deserved such derision for looking out for our users? I would add that the final screenshot shows that I filled out my Kforce application with absolute honesty. Nothing is more paramount to me than my word.

Tag Cloud