Alone in the lobby at 9 pm with nothing but a hand covering his genitalia.
In a few minutes, his colleagues would walk out of the company event and into that lobby. He was petrified. Shaking.
Large amounts of alcohol caused him to go to his hotel room, have a shower and somehow lock himself out of the room.
This wasn’t the first time.
If it wasn’t work trips with young girls in hotels. Or the STD he caught that his nurse wife, who so happened to specialize in STDs, would have ripped his manhood off for if she found out. Or the times he accidentally used his corporate card at a strip club with clients.
It was always something with him.
I didn’t turn into my colleague, thankfully. I had the best job in the world and so did he. But I kept mine … and he didn’t.
From the dungeons of the call center
Working in a call center is the closest I’ve come to Egyptian slavery from thousands of years ago.
I couldn’t leave my phone. I was chained to it with the cord of my phone headset. All breaks got timed to the second. You got 45 minutes for lunch and the Cisco phone would time every minute.
A group of employees on the floor above were in charge of ensuring no worker came back late. If you did you’d have an email with a written warning. Two of those, and you were 99% of the way out the door.
When I arrived I didn’t believe at first I’d ever get out. My only career goal was to escape. And I did after eleven months.
I found another call center job working for the same company but at another building. This call center was less structured. It had the illusion of freedom.
As soon as I arrived things got wild. We were understaffed. At our peak I took over 150 calls a day. Yes, each call was as short as can be.
The reason I took the job was to get closer to non-call-center employees. And I did. But they thought I was the scum of the Earth.
They hated that we shared the floor of a skyscraper with them. That’s right, I went from the 6-level call center to the 40-story skyscraper.
I was moving up but going nowhere higher in my career.
The not so miraculous encounter
I realized throughout the call that I’ve been living a double life. Most people don’t know I had the best job in the world or how I got it. I’ll explain…
While working in that skyscraper I made a point of standing out. Call center workers would often wear jeans and a t-shirt. They looked like they didn’t give a fudge — and they didn’t.
My new boss in the call center suggested I wear a black pinstripe suit. I was desperate to escape so I took his advice.
For the first time, I bought a tailored suit with all the trimmings. The first day I wore it my new colleagues laughed. Only one other guy in our team wore suits, and everybody thought he was a star employee.
I shrugged off the comments and kept wearing it.
A few people outside of the call center noticed. They didn’t say much but their stares suggested I wasn’t as much of a scumbag anymore.
I made it a habit to say hi to those outside the call center. None of them knew me and they thought it was weird. But they said hi back to not be rude. As the hi’s mounted up, I’d ask them what they did in the bank.
Once I knew what they did I’d harmlessly find out about their personal lives.
- What did they do on the weekend?
- Did they have kids?
- What did their partner do?
The relationships went from flimsy to first-name basis.
One day I saw an employee dressed in jeans, farm shoes, a farm shirt, and a backpack that looked like it had been around the world a few times. The Qantas stickers on the side were a dead giveaway.
“What do you do for the bank?” I asked.
“Oh, my small team deals mostly with tech companies.”
I eventually got to know him better through asking questions and lots of small talk in the office. (Small talk is so underrated.) I strategically positioned myself as close to his desk each morning as I could.
We became friends.
One evening I got an inbound call from one of the biggest tech companies in the world. They wanted to do business with us but couldn’t find the right person.
I definitely wasn’t the right person.
But the framer man absolutely was. I took the opportunity by the curly ones and set up a meeting between them.
“Have I got an opportunity for you. Drop everything!” I shouted.
He took my advice and after I told him the client name, he couldn’t stop smiling. About a year later I joined his small team.
The dream job
Tech companies need to expand their business to new countries.
My job became helping the biggest tech companies in the world set up their businesses in Australia and New Zealand.
They’d need a bank, government contacts, lawyers, accountants, an office, a company, employees, recruiters, and the right tech stack.
I worked on the banking side but my colleagues and I arranged the other components, which gave us a huge competitive advantage.
We became known in Silicon Valley as the guys down under to talk to.
It wasn’t a job at all.
I worked in a team of six. We all became best mates.
Our seventh team member was named J2E2 (R2D2). His job as a laptop was to run reports and automate as much as possible.
You could send him questions and he’d even tell smart ass jokes. This may not seem like a big deal, although in a bank where technology and innovation are scarce, it was massive.
Our job was to get on planes and visit tech companies. Most of the talking didn’t happen in meeting rooms. We’d use our corporate card to take prospects and customers to amazing restaurants.
I became a tour guide of sorts.
I had to educate them on the market. I had to sell them on why they should waste their time setting up their business on a tiny island known as Australia.
Most of the time they said yes. Occasionally they chose Singapore over Australia. Idiots.
Attending events became a core requirement. I went to that many tech company launches and startup events, people started to think I was a tech founder, not a bank employee.
Not drinking alcohol was my only flaw.
By that point our reputations could break through any objection — even not drinking in a culture known to drink more beer than water in a day.
The banking services we provided couldn’t be found anywhere else too. And eventually when you could, those who sold them didn’t have the reputation or wild Australian personalities we became known for.
A job that doesn’t feel like a job
It was such a fun place to work. We spent so much time together as a team. We became inseparable. They weren’t my colleagues. No.
They were family.
We don’t work together anymore. I still talk to them. But I miss them like you wouldn’t believe. People think it’s cool I don’t have a job and make money online. My dirty secret is if I ever got to work with this team of incredible humans again, I’d drop everything to do it.
When I came to understand this last year, it made me realize I didn’t work a job during those years. I don’t know what it was. A paid holiday? A dream? A beautiful miracle? An act of god?
All I know is I used to have one of the best jobs in the world that most people would kill for.
Make friends with strangers at work. It can lead to the best job in the world and change your life forever.