For those just joining us, this is a series. There’s a series of links at the bottom of this post, so you can start at the beginning if you like.
Step 2: Be Irrational About Diversification
A week or so later, word came down that the top that the XP Office tutorial was to be set aside, and instead I was to think up a new project. There were all kinds of big project proposals being pitched –including one to the US government, to make their websites “accessible” as per a legal mandate of around that time. In retrospect, I see it now as floundering, not as diversification: they’d pretty much sold all the original product lines they could, but there wasn’t a clear vision, or serious research, devoted to finding an adjacent niche they could expand into. It was the corporate equivalent of get-rich-quick schemes.
Well, I tried, at least, to find an adjacent niche. I talked with the visually impaired people in the office, and looked at one of the things I’d been asked to do a few times around that time — do up someone’s resume — and a little while later, I was writing up a tutorial on how to write a killer resume. It was designed for the visually impaired, the software set up to grab the input from the user and then lay it out in a perfect-looking resume, using some kind of Word Template or something. It would also help in writing a unique cover letter for the job, and index past versions of cover letters and resumes for sampling and rewriting into new ones.
I actually was around long enough to basically complete the tutorial. I edited it into shape, and it was close to done when things started to get a little hairy. I showed the text to my boss, who reacted in shock.
“This isn’t what I asked you to write!” she said.
“Yes it is. See right here, on the project proposal? I followed the outline exactly.”
And I had, but I was told it was too focused on helping the user understand how to write a good resume, and not focused enough on simply gathering the information and formatting it. My proposal had made this shift in style clear, but I guess they hadn’t realized what it meant till they saw the script. So… back to the drawing board.
And then, pretty soon after that as I remember it, and without much warning, it suddenly was revealed to us that the company was financial trouble.