Boss, Pimpin, Rant, Work Ethic

I don’t often write about my personal life on Facebook, I don’t think anyone cares and quite honestly it’s not that exciting at all. I am making an exception today because I do not want anyone to have to go through the kind of harassment I’ve had to endure over the past two years. Perhaps you can share in my pain and know that it.. gets better.

I first met Kate at an IT event a few years ago.

Even though she was from Kentucky she wasn’t married to her brother nor had her hand been promised to kinfolk.. there she was.. a 20something girl at an IT event. She could read and write and that probably should have been my first warning sign that something deeply troubling was brewing underneath. I started working with Kate more closely while she was at her previous job and told her about several areas of my business where she could help launch several community initiatives. This is where the fatal attraction started.

At first it was work related.. “Vlad, I want to go on a trip with you. Let’s go to some IT conference so it seems like it’s work” but quickly got more aggressive “Let’s share a cab.. room..” – When we got to the event it got even more awkward – she would stand next to me, talk to our clients about me, constantly ask me about what I was doing that evening..

Things in the office were not any less hostile. For example, every single phone call started with her flashing us.


As I made it clear that my feelings were not the same, things got very weird. A strange mix of intensity and disillusionment. And bad hair and body odors. Now I like to think of those as the “good days” when she at least bothered to put on clothes.

Compounded by hundreds of instant messages, voicemails and emails. All supposedly work related but dripping with innuendo and lust.


It got so bad that I gave Shockey Monkey away for free, with free support and then some in hopes that I would bankrupt the company and make a clean, legal break that would not result in my tires being slashed.. or worse.

I gave her the Looks Cloudy blog in hopes she would meet some other people she could obsess about but that made it even worse as she found even more excuses to talk to me about all the men and women and what she thought of them.


Eventually she got the message and is finally moving on.

But Seriously…

Obviously all of the above is made up. 🙂

As a CEO of a small business you know the kinds of people that work for you and exactly what their departure from the company is going to look like. Most people are gone with a whimper and replaced with a video, shell script, automation, software or just a simple email reassignment. Then there are people that are, for better or worse, critical to the business because they are both versatile and capable of adjusting quickly to a fast paced nature of ever changing technology business.

Some people are only leaving ExchangeDefender in a body bag.

Others in handcuffs.

I hope I leave in a blaze of glory carrying an empty shotgun, lighter and an empty canister of gasoline in one hand and a letter to Lloyds of London insurance group in the other.

Then there are those that from the moment you hire them you know they are destined for something bigger and you just hope to keep them interested for long enough and that they build a solid foundation for new lines of business down the road.

I originally pitched a gig at OWN two years ago and although I had considered dozens of folks for it, she was pretty much the only one that could do the job. The pitch was simple: “I have a few business plans underway as we transform the cloud business but to be honest they are all just a mess of concepts that you’ll have to clean up and build into real product lines or services” – several months later you saw the launch of Shockey Monkey as a commercial product, then a few months later the launch of Looks Cloudy and tons of other services that you’re yet to hear about.

At ExchageDefender we work as a team – even at the Vice President level – and meet almost daily. Kate didn’t do what she did on her own but she brought a unique skill that very few people have – she was able to read my mind. I could explain what I was thinking about or looking for in very crude terms and she could deliver something real out of that. There was no need to micromanage or be involved on every project, both the little details and the big picture were taken care of without me.

In two years here Kate turned more concepts into products and services than I ever expected. Her role at ExchangeDefender will not be replaced as she has turned one VP role in what will likely be fielded by 3-5 different product managers and editors.

Folks always ask me about defining professional success: It’s leaving far more than what you found when you got there. That’s capitalism, that is entrepreneurism – building, growing and constantly looking to make things better.


Kate is leaving the ExchangeDefender family and I could not be more proud of what she has accomplished here and what she has helped us become. It is in no small part thanks to her that thousands of IT organizations now have an amazing platform to build their business. The new role that she is taking on will be announced next week and I know she will do an outstanding job at it.

We will miss her.

P.S. Yes, her severance package does include a hairbrush. Smile

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