Cast in a new role

In what felt a bit like an unexpected call in the middle of the night, back in October, the 21st to be specific, I received an email from a former client of mine with whom I have consulted off and on since around 1988 asking whether I’d be willing to consider “an assignment for a year or so in New Mexico.” Having already retired and, I’ll admit, having begun to resign myself to the inevitable decline that leads to the end of life, I was surprised and invigorated by his suggestion so I followed up with him just to learn what the possibilities were. That conversation and subsequent events have now led to a new opportunity for me, a new role. And just this last week, I received a formal offer to become the Call Center Manager for the Vertex Outsourcing call center in Las Vegas, NM — not Nevada mind you, but New Mexico.

Las Vegas, NM, is a relatively small but historic town nestled in the northeastern quadrant of the state at an elevation of 6,424 feet, higher even than the Mile High City of Denver. This site was chosen as the location for the call center because of its lack of disruptions due to weather (316 days of sunshine a year) and because of the work ethic and skills of its bilingual local population. However, this small, historic (which also implies old) town became something of an obstacle in locating a qualified individual to move there and manage the operation. And that, it turns out, was what caused my friend to think of me. Because I am 66, unattached and don’t have small children who would have to attend the Las Vegas school system, my maturity and prior experiences made him think of me as a desirable candidate who might be open to moving there.

“A year or so,” as originally suggested by my friend, has actually turned out to be two years when we got down to specifying the details of the agreement. I will move to New Mexico, maintain my house here in Knoxville, and return here after the two year contract is up. My objectives are to develop and sustain a culture in the center that causes the employees to feel valued and respected and that results in their conveying those same things to the customers in the calls they take from them. Although there are of course performance metrics that must be met as well, the primary objective for me is to nurture the kind of environment that is rarely sustained in a call center, so that customers are treated as valued assets rather than interruptions in the representatives’ busy, stressful and sometimes monotonous day. That’s an interesting challenge that I have often tried in my consulting assignments to help other managers achieve with, I will acknowledge, varying degrees of success. Now for the first time in my career I’ll have the authority and accountability to do just that myself. I welcome the challenge, and I believe I’ll find it both educational and interesting.

The other major goal I’ll have while there is to identify and train my replacement. Through modeling the behaviors needed to run a call center in this way and by coaching this potential replacement in his or her use of those same behaviors, I’ll seek to create an environment that can keep going without interruption when my time on site is up.

I haven’t yet decided what this move will mean to my blogging. Since beginning to discuss the possible move, I’ve chosen not to update my blog because I didn’t want to discuss these events online until they were firm enough to be revealed. And once I do assume the new role, I’m not sure how much I want to blog about what will surely occupy most of my thinking throughout the day, nor do I know how much time I might have for an activity like blogging. I suppose I could keep writing about technology as I’ve done through much of the last couple of years, but there are other blogs that already do a better job of that than I do. So my blogging may be a casualty of my new role, but that hasn’t yet been decided and remains to be seen.

At least now you know what has been going on with me for the last several months and why I’ve not been posting here as frequently as I used to. I’m about to embark on “Perry’s Excellent Adventure” in New Mexico, so if you happen to be traveling through the southwest feel free to look me up. I’m sure I’d welcome seeing a face “from home.”

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16 thoughts on “Cast in a new role

  1. Perry Post author

    Thanks, Shannon. Despite my moving away and thanks to the Internet and cell phone technology, I hope that I can maintain contact with friends like you whom I respect immensely.

    Reply
  2. Daryl

    Well I for one hope you’ll keep up the blogging, though I can surely identify with not wanting to look at the screen anymore after a full day of it.

    Reply
  3. Perry Post author

    Thanks for supporting the idea of my continuing to blog, Daryl. I hardly ever tire of staring at a computer screen, but I have some question about how much time or energy I’ll have left. The operation runs from 5 am until 5 pm each day. However, I haven’t ruled out continuing to blog yet. It could provide a way to keep my family aware that I am still alive and what is going on in my life. We’ll see.

    Reply
  4. Jerry

    I like the notion of “Perry’s Excellent Adventure.” I think the psychological-emotional experiences will have interest value. Getting back into the workforce, applying principles that you taught and coached to directly, experiencing your new environment, dealing with those you are managing–lots of good stuff.

    You may an interior change of scenery that accompanies the geographical-topographical-exterior changes. I would expect some metaphysical experiences there in the mountains of New Mexico. It’s a very spiritual area.

    It would be great if you could have some transcendent, cosmic epiphany and could blog about it. Cosmic epiphanies are hard to come by.

    Reply
  5. Perry Post author

    Well, Jerry, I don’t know if this change will result in “metaphysical” experiences. but presuming I experience epiphanies, I promise I’ll share them.

    My contract with my new employer states pretty explicitly that I may not share any confidences I come by through my work with them. I can’t believe they’ll expect that I wouldn’t comment on any epiphanies that I might encounter by moving out west and living around New Mexico’s “very spiritual” areas.

    I can promise you though, that if I “see God,” I will blog about it. (What one could say about “seeing God” remains to be seen.)

    Thanks for what I perceive to be your supportive comments.

    Reply
  6. Darrell

    Perry,

    CONGRATULATIONS. I’m not really surprised at this announcement. Well, maybe a little, and that this didn’t happen a long time ago. I hope you will enjoy this experience and get all you are looking for from it. I know you will do an excellent job in this new role. Knowing the friend that “recruited” you, I am sure he will make this “an adventure” in itself. Having had a similiar experience some time ago now, I hope your stint in NM goes smoothly and you are 100 percent successful in what you set out to do at this call center. I’m wishing you the absolute best. You have my email, so drop me a line or two once in a while and let me know how it’s going. As you know, I spent many years in a similiar environment and if you ever need an ear or a wall to bounce an idea against, feel free to contact me.

    Reply
  7. Bowen

    This sounds great Perry. Not only an adventure, but an opportunity to be additionally useful, which I feel is very important. Most of we “retirees”, find that remaining useful involves volunteer service. Hope you find this new responsibility to be interesting, enjoyable and fulfilling. Thanks for keeping us informed.

    Reply
  8. Colm Smyth

    Awesome Perry! How often does life hand you an opportunity to do something you do well and have an adventure while doing it?! The fact that you deserve it is the icing on the cake – we often don’t appreciate mere good fortune, but we feel validated when something “appropriate” happens πŸ˜‰ – a bit like recognition in companies πŸ˜‰

    No doubt it will be hard work, but I hope you can make the space to have a ball too.

    Reply
  9. Tish

    Congratulations, Perry! I hope everything goes well for you! πŸ™‚

    Btw, I have presented you with a very well deserved award over on my blog. πŸ™‚

    Reply
  10. Perry Post author

    Thank you, everyone, for your good wishes. In particular, to you Tish about the award you’ve given me, I can only quote Jack Benny who said, “I don’t deserve this award, but I have arthritis and I don’t deserve that either.” πŸ˜‰

    Also thanks for pointing out the error you get when posting a comment. I am aware of it and have tried to find the right place to correct it, but so far I have been unsuccessful. Despite the error, comments (including mine when I make them) are being posted. So commenting works; it just isn’t very pretty.

    Later: Now after having just told you, Tish, that I couldn’t resolve the error, I’ve found a way to do so. Neither you nor anyone else should get that error anymore. Thanks for motivating me to resolve the issue.

    Reply
  11. Tom Wright

    Perry: Didn’t realize it was for 2 years–which doubles my chances I will get out there to see you. My friend Steve lives in Santa Fe and has extended an invite, so things are looking very New Mexico-ey for the future.

    Best of luck on this and everything.

    Reply
  12. Jeff Nelson

    Wow!!! I am tickled to death about this opportunity that has come your way at this time in your I really should be helping you with all of the particulars that go along with such a move, but find myself trying to keep up with the train of my life as it moves down that ever changing track. I know that we have not been in touch with each other nearly enough and I apologize for that. Maybe, this change in your routine is what we needed to maintain more regular lines of communication. Anyway, I am excited and nervous for you but I know you will show the herds the way and the light . I love you and congratulations on this new adventure. Oh, if you do see God, definitely write about it.

    You Son,
    Jeff

    Reply
  13. David Steele

    Perry:

    Last week when I was in Las Vegas I had the opportunity to see your house. It is gorgeous! I understand it is on the National Register of Historic Places and the fact you can walk to work each day to our business incubator on campus will be wonderful. I have absolutely fallen in love with this town, and you need to post some background on “No Place for Old Men” being filmed here. I also understand your boss met Dolly Parton and Toby Keith in the lobby of The Plaza Hotel the other day. We had a wonderful tour by Elizabeth of the United World College and I hope you write about this institution as well. Looking foward to seeing you next month and let’s have dinner in Santa Fe or Taos.

    Best, David

    Reply

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