Working It Out

Apr 01, 2002

George Alexandra was fed up. He was tired of always having to take a back seat to his partner, Mick Flashyman. “Just because Flashyman started the company (Godlike Architects, Inc.) didn’t mean it wouldn’t be where it was today without me,” Alexandra thought to himself many times each day. “I’m sick of doing Gap Body stores, I’m sick of living in Tulsa, and I’m sick of Flashyman,” became Alexandra’s obsessive thoughts. “It doesn’t matter to me that we have the world’s greatest process for doing these Gap Body stores. They’re boring as Hell. I have always wanted to live in rural New Hampshire. And why does Flashyman get all of the attention? I’m the glue that holds everything together around here,” is what Alexandra told his wife, Moira, one evening. “I’ve got to change my situation.” Sounds like a man going through a mid-life crisis, right? A job/career/venue change may be better than the complications he’d get from an extramarital affair or experimental drug use, but is it really the key to Alexandra’s happiness? I’m not so sure. Maybe he can have his cake and eat it too, and everyone could come out happy. You see, one problem was Alexandra’s lifestyle and the living that Godlike Architects paid him were a bit of a barrier to doing something different. There just weren’t that many 70-person companies where someone like him would be making $300-$400K+ per year plus have stock worth over $1.4 million. So even though money was by far and away not the most important thing to Alexandra, he was smart enough to know that a lack of it sure as heck wasn’t going to make him happier! Plus, he had bills to pay. His 4,872 square-foot brick manse on the fairway of the 5th hole of Springville Country Club cost over $6000 a month to pay the mortgage and utilities on, and he had two sons in college costing him about $70K a year. Serious money, no doubt… The other problem was that while he didn’t particularly like the projects they were doing (Gap Body, and other turn-the-crank kind of work), he did like the ego gratification that came from being part of Godlike Architects. Go to any meeting or clients or A/E firms and they all knew about Godlike. So it was hard to give all that up. Then there was Tulsa compared with New Hampshire. Sure, he wanted a more rural lifestyle than he had now and wanted to live in what he thought of as a “high class small town,” with New Hampshire having a number of them to choose from. The problem once again was cost. For what his house was worth in Tulsa there was no way Alexandra could have anything close to what it would cost in any of the nice towns he was considering. And what would he do to make a living there if he did move? In the end, thanks to the help of a “business therapist” that his wife had suggested they hire, Alexandra got where he wanted. He stayed working for Godlike Architects. But he took on a new role— start-up manager for the New England region. Godlike opened a small office in Concord, New Hampshire, and sent Alexandra there first on a part-time basis and eventually moved him there full-time once the workload required it. That proved to be the key to solving his problem. He didn’t have to give up his stock or his income. Sure the housing was higher but with the kids in college, Alexandra and his wife really didn’t need as much house as they were living in. Another benefit was that Alexandra got away from Flashyman, at least on a day-to-day basis. No doubt, Flashyman wasn’t all bad. But not having to see him every day, slapping everyone else on the back and smiling and taking credit for everything good that happened to the firm was a real benefit. It allowed Alexandra to tolerate him when he had to. The situation described above is fictitious but in my experience, not all that unusual. It’s always nice when people stay cool and work things out. Originally published 4/01/2002.

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