The Entry About Strange Partings

Written on Saturday, January 20th, 2007 at 11:18 pm by chris
Filed under Regular Stuff.

I had to wait a couple of weeks to write this post. I’m sorry that I didn’t do anything in the interim but it would be been too tempting to mention what was going on.

Two weeks ago, I gave my notice at LT. I had been trying to get some time off for several weeks, and after going just over six full months without a day off, I couldn’t take anymore. I was suffering from cabin fever, my girlfriend was ready to kill me, and the quality of my work had been decreasing. I didn’t want to quit, but it is probably for the best. It turns out in the end, that my presence wasn’t really wanted anyway, and that I would not be missed. That’s too bad - and extraordinarily demoralizing. At first I didn’t want to have anything to do with LT anymore, I just wanted to walk away and forget about it. I couldn’t do that, though. Even if my feelings were unrequited, I couldn’t leave LT without making sure stuff was working, working well, and in peak operating condition. It took me two full weeks, right up to the final hour, but I think I left them in a good place. I did a good amount of documenting of weird stuff over there, but the rest of it should be shaken out quickly by whomever takes over.

My final “meeting” with Tim & John was short. I showed them some of the server stuff at the colo facility, I showed them how to run a backup, what plugs in where, that sort of thing. It was very unceremonious, but even still I was very nervous. I reiterated my offer to stay on in a diminished capacity, which was politely refused, and then I was informed that I didn’t “mesh well” with the rest of the team. That hurt me pretty deeply, and I ended up coming home to zombie out for a while. Then I decided not to turn inwards too far because it just wasn’t worth it. Marie put it pretty well, that this was one of those breakups where “the guy just doesn’t care”. I do, however. I knew for a long time that I wasn’t well liked, and that my style was very different, but in my mind I thought that it would be a good thing and would keep the team on its toes. What it comes down to is I think just because I’m private, I’m not a hipster, I’m not an extroverted intellectual, and I look like a geek. Ok, looking like a geek probably had nothing to do with it, but it was fun to say that.

I know that I’m not the easiest person in the world to work with. I have a set method for certain things, and have had many years to develop just the right combination of bad habits and weird quirks. I love to learn, I love the be wrong, I love to be challenged and to find my limits being extended, but most of all I love my craft and the feeling I get when I am working on something new and exciting. The thing that gets me is that my offers to stay on weren’t rebuked because I am bad at my job, it’s because someone thinks I am a crappy person. That’s one of those things that leaves you feeling hollow and horrible, difficult to recover from because it wounds so deeply. I don’t think that was on purpose, but I’m pretty sensitive and I take things personally because I put all of who I am into everything that I do. Whether it’s working on computers or re-finishing my basement, I put 110% into everything and I take pride and ownership over it because I only do things I love. That may sound selfish, but it doesn’t change the fact that it’s true!

Anyway, enough of that stuff. I need to move on as well, and for me that means coming up with my own thing (see previous posts) and doing some freelance gigs to keep the money coming into the house. I’ll do some dog walking for my girl, some side projects from old clients I had before LT who didn’t like the person I hooked them up, and some older projects that I had put on the back burner. In all, the concept here is to take some lemons and turn them into lemonade, without having to add too much sugar because I don’t want the diabetes. The other thing I want to do is thank the LT community for all of their help, support, and friendliness over the past seven months. You are truly a stand-up community, and one I will continue to visit once some time has passed. So, thank you very much, it was an absolute pleasure to serve you.

Now, I’m going to prep up some new entries. I’ve been wanting to do some entries on PillHelp Works and what it takes to build a broad system for pharmacological professionals to provide Medication Therapy Management services on-line and still remain HIPAA-compliant.

Onwards and upwards. I won’t even use the Latin for this, I’m a regular guy, and that will never change.

11 Responses to “The Entry About Strange Partings”

  1. Andrew B Says:

    I’m sorry to hear you’re moving on Chris - but from the sounds of it you need to look at it from your personal health point of view. As far as I’m concerned you’ve done terrific work increasing the stability and no offence to Tim et al, but often you were the one staff member who fixed those niggling programming glitches which had hung around for ages. Many of us still recall your triumph by way of getting rid of those javascript links on the “talk” page! :-)

    Glad to hear you have some options to continue on with outside of LibraryThing - I hope everything goes well and you will pop back onto LT talk with the rest of us!

  2. Simon Says:

    Chris, sorry to see you go, over the last few weeks I have missed your responsiveness, The knowledge that you were looking at things day and night did a lot for my confidence it LT. I will miss your presence do come back when you have put some space between you and events maybe you will finally be able to update your library. Tim’s opinion of you is his affair, Your opinion of you is the one that is important.

  3. sunny Says:

    Dear Chris

    I hope you can keep LT in mind as a place where you could learn some new things, a place that helped (or forced..) you get on to where you are heading now.

    You gave so much of your time and energy to LT in a time where it still is growing very fast - I hope it will stay an application you can be proud of having helped work * smoother.

    My very best wishes - do keep us informed of what you are doing :-)


  4. Canis Nerdus Says:

    Well, I guess some people care more about appearances than substance! Keep doing your own thing, who cares what anyone else thinks! Although, I do think you would look cute in hipster nerd glasses. :-)

  5. chris Says:

    I learned a LOT from LT! I loved the pace, I loved the concept, and I had a special spot for it in my heart thanks to my late mother who was a librarian and book lover her entire life. It was my own little way of helping pay tribute to her; I did everything I could to make the best bibliophile website out there be even better.

    I had the pleasure of knowing those guys, working with those guys, and spending time with them. I hope that in the future, with a little water under the bridge, we can all get together for a beer and visit.

    As for what’s coming next — I’m not entirely positive, but what I can say is that I am most certainly taking everything I learned from LT and applying it to bettering myself personally and professionally.

    Oh, and the new guy… you’re gonna like him a lot! I’m really surprised he hasn’t been announced yet because he’s someone who is really capable of taking LT to another level if he’s given the opportunity.

    I’ll land on my feet, thank you so much for your best wishes!

    PS: I did see the post on “Talk” :-) Thank you!

  6. John Dalton Says:

    Thanks for all the hard work, Chris. I know how much hard work and heartache there is working in a startup - a small and passionate team fighting the odds to bring the world something new and worthwhile. The conflict produces a better product, but sometimes at a high cost in people’s personal lives.

    I hope that you’ll be able to look back more fondly on the whole thing after you’ve got a bit of distance from it - you certainly made positive contributions and it looks like Tim *does* appreciate them judging by the LT blog post.

    Best of luck in your future endeavors :)


  7. twacorbies Says:

    LibraryThing is a fantastic beast. If you even contributed 1% to it, I’d be in awe. Since it seems likely that you contributed much, much more (like in the 110% range as you said) in my own small way I’d like to tell you that your work is greatly appreciated. LT is one of those things that I didn’t know I’d want until I discovered it, and I’m well aware that a lot of hard work went into making it a reality. Kudos and good luck on the road to becoming a CTO!

  8. David Says:

    Hi Chris,

    This will pass for you, like postpartum depression.

    Up to now, you have put yourself last and although you can’t put your finger on it, you feel ‘cheated’. Its nobody’s fault though. There’s no wrong done. Just different people being different.

    Be good to yourself. Care for yourself. Eat well, and take quiet time every day just to sit and think. Then you grow, instead of withering away. Some people actually get dizzy when they find the world continues to turn without them doing anything, but that can liberate you, if you allow it.

    From now on, you must be deliciously self-centered!



  9. chris Says:

    I don’t even know what to say!


    I’ll write more later after I digest all this kindness!


  10. Kay Dekker Says:

    Dear Chris,

    I’m a very new LTer, so I can have no memories of the hard work that you’ve put in to making LT such a wonderful tool, but I’m thanking you for it.

    It’s sad when things don’t work out as you’d have wished (don’t I know it; BTDT) but you’ve got the right attitude. Good luck with the lemonade!


  11. troublemaker Says:

    I have been in a similar situation in other startups so as one “troublemaker” to another, let me say that I can well understand why they wouldn’t want to keep you on to help them out. Any good engineer finds it hard to let go as there are always things that one wants to fix but this list never get done! You may not think so now but a clean break is the best for both parties.

    Meshing well in a fast growing startup is pretty much a requirement if it is to keep growing fast. It is no way a reflection of an individual’s technical abilities or how friendly he is. A starup needs a clear vision, sharp focus, hard work, momentum and teamwork. If you want changes in design/direction, you have a limited time to make your case and after that you pretty much have to go with what was decided. In the overall scheme the kind of design decisions you talked about in your earlier posts don’t matter too much anyway. When something does become a bottleneck it will get fixed!

    What I am saying is that the “not mesh well” comment does not have to be taken personally — it is not a reflection of how hard you worked, or your dedication or passion for work or you as a person. It also does not mean people at LT do not genuinely appreciate what you did or not like you as a person. Some people’s styles just don’t mesh and that is life and you have nowhere to hide in a small startup! Particularly in a starup everyone must pull the same way or get out of the way. Just be glad you found this out in a few months!

    When I was in a similar situation the first time (years ago), I took some time off, looked at my priorities and how well I was doing on them (I was not). I even went back to my old company and heard their point of view. It was painful but helped me understand what happened.
    But most important, I took time to enjoy simple pleasures of life and that did more to help me heal from the post-traumatic stress of a startup!

    Best of luck to you!

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