382 Shades of Vlad

Boss, IT Business
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When I started this business my goal was to make $100,000 a year which was the average college dropout salary in Silicon Valley at the time. I never quite expected the company to grow to what it has become and even at the time when I was responsible for far more than I’m responsible for today I dealt with a different kind of animal. Management of a “smart” company with a few ridiculously smart, talented and creative people is far different from managing an empire of clock-punching idiots and unfortunately the management books are written for managing precisely that. To manage and motivate smart people that can do basic math you need to study psychology, team building, organizational behavior, human behavioral decision making process.

We didn’t develop Shockey Monkey by accident. It’s not as ridiculously successful as it is by accident. It’s current development, again without accident, is built around the reality of managing a service business and not an industrial clock-punching company. Some of you are obviously going to disagree with this notion, looking to manage your business more like a carpet cleaning dispatch center that screams at employees that aren’t billing enough, but much like so many of your peers have found out the hard way.. the margins for dumb businesses are disappearing quicker than the opportunities. To each his own, I love ya either way, I’m here to help, but it’s pretty clear what’s going on out there.

With that in mind, I decided to sit down and write a Vlad Owners Manual per se..  to help people that work here understand how I work, what makes me tick, what my many faults are and how to work around them:


Congratulations on joining ExchangeDefender, you are now a part of a very talented team that manages worldwide network operations. You will be working in a high-paced, high-stress challenging environment and if you do your job right this will be the last job you’ll ever need to find. That said, your job will never be the same from day to day and it will never be done. Welcome.

Everything you need to know about working at ExchangeDefender has been officially documented in the Employee Guide and Employee Videos you should have seen by now.

My name is Vlad Mazek, I am the CEO and founder of ExchangeDefender, and you will get to deal with me directly or indirectly as your career here progresses. This document is an honest outline of my background, values, process, work ethic and will give you some insight into what makes me tick so you don’t have to base your expectations on the urban myth of “The Vlad” or the blogs/Facebook/twitter posts that are written for entertainment purposes.

Like everyone else, I have many flaws. My hope is that this document gives you an idea of my shortcomings and gives you the best possible way to interact with me and what to expect. ExchangeDefender is a team effort so the better we all work with each other around our handicaps, the more successful we will be.

Enjoy and welcome aboard.

About Me
–    Personal
–    Career
–    Role & Responsibility
–    Contact Availability
–    I am always right, until I am wrong
–    What I actually do around here
–    Flaws

Frequent Questions I Get
–    Why are our clients so stupid?
–    Is this in my job description?
–    How do I get more money?
–    Why do things change?
–    How do I achieve career/life balance?
–    Why am I surrounded by idiots?
–    Why do certain employees get away with more?
–    Why can’t we have consistency on expectations?
–    Why is everything always broken?
–    Why can’t I talk to XYZ? How do I escalate and who is in charge?

People and Activity I Like
–    Personal Accountability
–    Organized, Reminding, Tracking
–    Transparency & Communication
–    Email & Communication Effectiveness

Activity I Dislike
–    Condescending Smartass Behavior
–    Lack of Personal Accountability, Hygiene
–    Complaints about “The Greener Pastures”
–    Lack of Team Mentality
–    Disrespect of Our Clients

If you happen to do an obscene amount of strategic business with us, I’ll gladly share this with you under an NDA.

I read a few business books a month (some more than once) and without exception they are written in a top down approach with the high dose of self-help. Basically, you have faults that you should fix but spend your time eliminating everyone else’s faults. OK, fair enough and very valuable, but the problem at ExchangeDefender is that I’m the least productive person here despite probably the longest hours and almost everything I do is reliant on the very people that I’m supposed to beat the shit out of. We’re just supposed to come to a mutual understanding that even though I suck they are supposed to pretend not to notice and we dance around it? Hell no.

You may be perfect, congratulations, wish I could be like you. I’m not. Rather than having the new people find that out the hard way (and troubleshoot the correct way to deal with it), I’ve decided to put it in writing as honestly as I could so that they know the best ways to manage their way to getting their job done (even if in spite of me)

The process itself is quite rewarding because when you start putting things in writing the list of things that you should be working on as an executive tends to explode. The amount of gray area is exposed and you have to explain it as well.

I encourage you to sit down and fill out your Chemistry.com-ish executive profile so your team can become more effective with you. Feel free to use my layout as a guideline.

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