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The Message Of A Sixteen Year Old Note

September 24, 2013

Why did I take this job? Why did I take a pittance of a salary a tiny slice of ownership so that I could come and be this stressed every day?

I admit it, I was feeling a little sorry for myself. I was trying to drive our company RESMARK to a successful product launch. If you’ve never been through the process of releasing a product, there comes a point where you doubt if you can actually make it. Your schedule is shot, customers are clamoring for new features and you don’t even have time to include the features you promised them, and the investors are questioning every time you buy a package of bic pens. “Don’t they write code on the computer? Why are office supply costs so high?”

I came into the office to find yet another yellow sticky note on my monitor. Now what could go wrong?


The note took me by surprise. It was written by our office manager, Randy. It was what I needed, that day and lots of days. Randy probably didn’t realize it. . .I don’t know, maybe he did, he was a really, really good office manager. . .but he provided me with a memory that I would carry with me for years. That picture above was easy to find. I pulled the 7 year old note out of my desk drawer.

The sentiments are helpful, but more important was the idea that someone at work was looking out for me. It’s important to help your employees feel connected to the company and let them know that they are valued.

Like many people, I have some personal mementoes on my desk in my home office. The one that sits on a shelf directly in front of me at eye level is a collection of pocket watches.


I like pocket watches. The watch on the right was a gift from my wife. The watch second from the right belonged to my dad’s father. The original watch probably cost $4. I had to recently replace the face and it was $20 just for the glass and the jeweler said he was lucky to find a used one. The watch on the far left was the most recent one I bought to carry everyday, before I ditched it for my cell phone. The one second from the left is special to me.


The watch was a gift from my mother to my late father. It has his initials on the front and an inscription inside. The watch fob belonged to my mother’s father. Most people are challenged to try to identify it. My grandfather was a dam builder. It’s a miniature jackhammer.

(Photo Credit: Wikipedia)

Oh, and the board they are attached to was a Father’s Day gift from one of my daughters.

The reason I keep this prominently displayed is to remind me of who I am and where I came from. It helps me keep perspective on what’s really important. There are ways to give employees this same opportunity. Microsoft was brilliant at this. They had awards for everything. This is an official Microsoft Ship It award. You got one when you were part of a product that shipped.


Here’s a jacket that our training org gave employees.


Even years later, I still have some of the t-shirts, and other bits of Microsoft SWAG. Some of them I keep for sentimental reasons, like the Ship It award. Others I keep because they haven’t worn out yet, like the jacket. However, those awards and trinkets lack an important element to make them lasting. They lack a personal touch. Here’s another note that was left on my monitor. It’s probably about sixteen years old.


If I had to keep only one, the trophy or the note, I would probably choose the note. Thousands of people helped ship Microsoft Exchange server and got those trophies. But, that note was unique. In a world of mass production, uniqueness is something. . .well, unique. So, try writing a note for an employee or a coworker. It sounds corny, but you will be surprised how many times it literally makes a memory. If you’ve ever left a note for someone, or someone has left you a note, let me know in the comments.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children who leave him lovely notes on a regular basis.

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