Notice The Signs

2015 was a great year! A year filled with many accomplishments, both personally and professionally but rather than go into detail, I want to share something that I learned this year that I’m going to remember for the rest of my life… Always be aware of the signs.

The Backstory

Back in 2011, after spending close to 10 years in network development for the telecom industry, I joined Barracuda Networks as a Product Specialist. Excited doesn’t quite explain how I felt about the opportunity. For once I had found a company I would truly enjoy because Barracuda Networks had created a reputation over the years for being larger than life and had a team to support that perception who were genuinely bought into the idea that it was one of the best companies to work for in “The Valley”.

I quickly rose through the ranks at Barracuda, moving into management within 2 years and then onto multiple other roles during my employment, generally created for my specific set of skills. Immediately, I was on senior leaderships’ radar, part of the HIPO (High Potential) group and positioned for a long successful career.

A False Sense of Security

Personally, any time I have joined a new company I always think to myself, “Is this going to be my last stop? Will I finish out my career here?” I know it might sound a little odd, but I have always wanted to find a place where I could continue to grow, increase my overall value and save enough financially to retire. No one really wants to jump around from company to company every few years, but its a sign of the times. I remember some words of wisdom an old family friend who worked with my father (before he passed away) told me right after I graduated college. He said, “Brent, the days where you join a company fresh out of college, work for 25 years and retire are long gone, times have changed, it doesn’t happen anymore.” I still want to believe its possible though. Without that belief you have this false sense of security that every company is honest and truthful, that the leadership team is looking out for their employees best interest but for me, this was far from the case at Barracuda Networks.

The Beginning of The End

After over 4 years of employment, I was ready to move on from Barracuda but what’s interesting is that I knew I was done within the first 2 years. Right after I started in the role of Sales Enablement Manager, I was having my first 1-on-1 with my new boss who was the SVP of WorldWide Sales. I couldn’t tell you the context of that conversation but one line has and will forever be imprinted in my memory, “The closer you get to me, the more of an a**hole I become”. That was it, that was the beginning of the end for me, and that was the first sign that I knew Barracuda wasn’t what I had envisioned.

You might think to yourself, how could I be sure though? How could one instance really determine my future with this company? The answer to that is simple actually, it was the first sign of many. Over the course of the next few years, I was always on alert. I was keeping a close eye out for more signs that things weren’t what they seemed and after that first incident, I started noticing things immediately:

  • Declining Revenue
  • Low Employee Retention
  • Consistently Bad Company Reviews (GlassDoor.com)
  • Poor Employee Morale
  • High Stress Environment

The list goes on but the most important thing to remember is that because of one single instance, I started to recognize these things and ultimately began to realize I wanted something better in my life.

A New Beginning

It was in August 2015 when all the signs finally came to light. That same SVP who stated the famous “a**hole” quote, stepped out of line for the last time with me. For some reason, he felt it necessary to try and discuss an incident with me that my direct manager and I had already discussed. This was the last sign for me, I sat in my car as I left work that day and recounted all the signs from the past 4 years. It was time to get away from this place and move onto the next thing. Many emotions went through my head over the following weeks but I had realized something very important and the purpose of this article… Don’t ignore the signs.

If you are in the same boat I was, take those signs seriously. While you want to believe that things will get better, the majority of the time they won’t. Don’t let yourself get stuck in a situation you need to get out of, there’s a lot of opportunity out there. I’ve realized that my old family friend was right, I’m not going to work for the same company for the next 20 years. While I love my current company and role I’m probably going to work for at least 2 more companies before I retire and I’m happy about it but the one most important thing i’ll always remember is to never ignore those signs again!

Happy New Year!

Brent

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