Author Topic: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?  (Read 2282 times)

SnakesintheGrass

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Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« on: December 12, 2018, 05:37:00 AM »
Need some advice

55 YO and I retired as an aerospace engineer/ manager in September 2018.  For the next 5 weeks I volunteered about 130 hours for our incumbent city councillor (who is also a neighbour).  I have known him for 15 years.   I mentioned at one point to one of his staff Iíd be interested in some kind of supporting role maybe after he was elected.  He is an honourable man who is smart and hard working Ė thatís important to me.

Immediately after the election, I started casual employment at high-end outdoor sports equipment store as a senior bike (and now ski) mechanic.   I have been doing bike repairs and Kijiji sales as an enjoyable side-hustle for few years.   I like it at the store Ė Iíve learned quite a bit; the people are sparky and active plus I get a discount on equipment and clothing.   Iíve been getting a ton of hours lately for a few reasons but it will slow down in January as all retail jobs do.

On Sunday morning the councillor called and asked me to consider becoming his chief of staff.   We met on Monday for breakfast.  He is aware I retired from full-time work and that we reached our numbers already.   He needs someone with people management and leadership skills since his ward has increased by about 40000 people and he has picked up some ďpriorityĒ neighbourhoods.  His existing staff (who I met and worked with during the election) are nice, competent folks but they are not ready for this role.   They have not been able to relieve him of a lot of planning, logistics and administrative functions.   The councillor will certainly be on the Mayorís executive committee and would like someone to help him and manage his staff.   I can do this. 

I told him that I would only accept employment (he said contract employment) for a year so that my lovely wife and I can retire around the same time.   This wasnít ideal for him but it wasnít a deal-breaker.
So, I owe him an answer very shortly and here is the decision to be made (also TLDR summary)
Do I:
Stay on at store (MEC)
 o   Enjoyable but physical (standing)
 o   Low stress pretty much
 o   Slightly more than minimum wage (which is not so important)
 o   Shift work
Or
-   Go to Toronto city hall
Interesting work supporting our community for a guy I admire
 o   Higher stress (not sure how much but believed to be manageable)
 o   Pretty good wage
 o   Office hours mostly in downtown location (Iíve always wanted to work in a city centre)
 o   Delay my own barista FIRE for a year
Iím on the fence as of now and need some sage advice

Snakes in the Grass (A = hubby)

chasesfish

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #1 on: December 12, 2018, 05:42:51 AM »
I'll take a stab at this:  You volunteered 130 hours for this individual so I think you believe in what they stand for and his leadership.  I say give it a shot.  Life is about enjoying every day and having a purpose.  You might find a purpose in this "work" and not have it really feel like work.  I imagine you volunteered for him with the belief he is making the place you live a better place.

This is the advantage of being FI, living a purposeful life.  This is a neat opportunity


chemistk

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #2 on: December 12, 2018, 06:01:03 AM »
As someone half you age, I can't offer perspective from your side of the fence.

Imagining myself in your situation, I would probably accept the position. I'd approach the job with the same attitude as the volunteer work, and with the express intent to help grow someone else into the role. I think it's a meaningful exercise to support your community, and I certainly wouldn't want to regret not doing it. The shop (and other similar jobs) will always be there.

I really believe the key, ultimately, is stress management. Do you see your stress levels rising significantly or the position causing mostly negative stress? Positive stress can be exhausting but rewarding. Negative stress would absolutely be a deal-breaker.

Le Poisson

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #3 on: December 12, 2018, 06:31:11 AM »
Municipal governance is a tricky balance of public wants/needs against a litany of constraints. I am not sure how this will compare to your previous role. Last May I ordered 2 bike repair stands to have in place for June bike Month. One is in service, the other is in a packing crate in the basement of a building waiting for approvals to clear.

As a "Chief of staff" your role will likely involve a lot of chasing - chasing staff to follow up on everything from the status of an All-way stop review to why syringes are showing up in parks, to how to deal with seniors that can't shovel sidewalks. Your boss will be riding the high of the post-election honeymoon for the year you are with him, and you will be leaving just as the shine starts to tarnish. The timing of your departure may be tricky for the riding.

A chief of staff role is often a grooming position - one that puts you in touch with all the players of the political spectrum - from the activists to investors to legislators to commissioners and senior leadership. Leaving his office, you would normally either be tuned in to politics in a way that makes it hard to exit, or in a way that makes you want out NOW.

How much of a wordsmith are you? How good are you at finding the positive spin to problems? How in-tune are you to saying the right thing at the right time to the right people without offending the other folks in the room? If you are leaving in a year, do you care? Honestly? If there is a city hall scandal or success, and a reporter aims a camera at you, how comfortable are you going on air to the biggest market in Canada? How comfortable are you backing up a decision by city hall that goes against your recommendations?

I suspect that in this role you will be spending most of your day on the phone with constituents and staff trying to make things right by both sides. Sometimes you have to give hard "no's" and sometimes you give soft yeses. Both of these can be difficult to deliver.

As it affects your FIRE plans, I would go for it if you are up to the role. Its insurance money that you should never need, but will give you the freedom to chase bigger dreams. I don't think this gets in the way of short term goals. I don't know that though - does it? But make it very clear that you are bridging for the next person and will not be there long term. otherwise, next election you may find yourself a running-mate or campaign organizer. Its kindof how City Hall works.

former player

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #4 on: December 12, 2018, 06:45:16 AM »
There look to be several positives (you believe in this guy, you will make a difference, you are working down town, you time is gainfully occupied until your wife retires).

The downside is the potential stress.  Stressors can be managed but it depends on the person involved - after a career as an aerospace engineer/ manager you should have a good idea about how a role like this one will affect you and whether that is something you want or can put up with for the next year.

The final thing I would say is that if you do take the job you should spend a considerable portion of your time setting up the office and personnel so that it will run smoothly after you are gone and you have a suitable successor to step into your role.  Not only will that reduce your stress while in office, you will be able to leave everyone happy at the end of the year and ride off into the sunset with your wife without a care in the world.

MDfive21

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #5 on: December 12, 2018, 06:49:02 AM »
i would take the chief of staff position.  it sounds interesting, rewarding and worst case is it sucks, you quit and go back to the bike shop.  not many people get the chance to do that, so don't pass up your opportunity.


G-dog

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #6 on: December 12, 2018, 07:58:08 AM »
Hi Mr. Snakey *waves*

Iím curious about the assumption(?) that this will be regular office hours? I would have expected something more like 24/7 always on call.

Does the Chief or Staff go to everything the councilor goes to? Isnít the councilorís job 24/7?

Iíve never worked in politics, and I donít know how the staff usually function. But I expect that a lot of the players have their own agendas, which can make it difficult to align as a team.  You will likely also have to liaise with a lot of other people and groups.  And do a ton of chasing, reminding, verifying, etc.  sounds emotionally exhausting to me.

Having met you, I can see why they want you you for the role. My concern is that could be whT I view as the worst part of your previous managing experience (dealing with difficult people, in many cases without authority). So do you want that for a year?

SnakesintheGrass

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #7 on: December 12, 2018, 08:37:33 AM »
Lots of good comments and thoughts

@Gdog - Completely get your point.   I'm trying to get in touch with someone in the same role at city hall to see if this is a 24/7 sack drive.   "Waves back"  Good to hear from you.

Most of the other comments centre (center for our American pals) on stress and that is exactly what the analysis showed.  FWIW, we took 4 key factors and weighted them out of 10, then rated stay and go options based on subjective assessments of factor, then did the math.  The totals showed a preference for staying at the store by a bit (based on the assumption that the stress would be pretty high).   If medium stress, it would tip to the go option.

@The fish.   I'm pretty good at word-smithing and can stay on script/stay cool on testy issues.  I dealt with sometimes unreasonable aerospace customers for a few years.  Lots of other good points in your post - Thanks

A


Rosy

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #8 on: December 12, 2018, 08:54:53 AM »
You have nothing to lose, but I think Le Poisson nailed it as far as what you may expect to happen if you agree to take on the Chief of Staff position.
It is entirely possible to become seduced by the power of politics and you may find yourself perfectly suited.
If you take the city job can you find a replacement and train them (within the next three months) to the point they are ready to smoothly take over on say Jan 1 of the following year ... then walk away without regrets? ... this option is not as satisfying as staying the course for a full term of office.

You have an opportunity to make a difference for your city and give the councilor you believe in, a good start in an immensely important support role. This is a huge step and there will be stress, but also immense satisfaction - this is a rare opportunity for you, but...
If you do not accept he will likely have a very rough start and first year in office. Yet, if you do accept and manage to set up a smooth running operation in one year, would you really want to leave? Would you conceivably be prepared to stay on?
Have you considered that the new person coming in to replace you will have to deal with rules of operation set up by someone else and may find it harder to make changes as he/she sees fit.

There is no comparison between your sports dept job and this opportunity. You have skills which will be wasted and wither and die.
Perhaps you would make a good team and perhaps life gave you a rare opportunity - I imagine this job may be just the challenge you need:)

okits

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #9 on: December 12, 2018, 07:13:06 PM »
Well, you know my bias, I am working a lot harder than I need to in order to support a cause I believe in.  I still want to be moderately stressed and challenged.  Knowing the work I'm doing really matters and helps people in a critical way is a huge plus.  My ego still craves feeling valued and needed and that I'm at the heart of something important (haven't totally sorted out that psychological aspect of FIRE, but I have time before we are FI.  😁)

Retiring from FT/career work at the same time as SITG-B is a big advantage.  Big changes in employment situation are big life changes and the times I went through that were easier when my partner was going through the same thing.  Both being retired means you can craft a new life together.

Seeing as you originally indicated interest in a supporting role once he was elected, it seems like you might really enjoy this.  Sounds worth a shot.  You can always accelerate the transition to a permanent Chief of Staff if it's just not working for you.  Even if it's a bad fit one can put up with a lot if it's only a few months.

ElleFiji

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #10 on: December 12, 2018, 07:29:26 PM »
Anecdote time!

My Dad retired at a similar age, and we all told him to take the job at MEC. Instead, he took a year contract. Going back to full time was burdensome. So he retired again. Rinse and repeat at various intervals for 6 years.

I think that if he took the MEC job, he'd be happy there and have stayed. Maybe played with hours up and down, but stayed mostly retired. Instead he's miserable within a month of every contract he takes, because the full time pressure doesn't work for him anymore.

Cassie

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #11 on: December 14, 2018, 02:00:52 PM »
What a difficult choice. I would probably take the big job and see how it goes. I am sure you can probably always return to the bike shop.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #12 on: December 15, 2018, 03:35:54 AM »
Youíve negotiated just 1 year, so give it a go, just for the experience bucket. Bike job will always be there. Politicians you connect with and respect? Not so much.

lhamo

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #13 on: December 15, 2018, 03:52:46 PM »
I think I would lean toward taking it, with the condition that you participate in hiring deputy staff, at least one of whom has the potential to take over as chief in a year or less.  You help with setting up the basic systems and getting that person up to speed with how to manage the staff/office, and once they are ready you have made your contribution.

SnakesintheGrass

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #14 on: December 20, 2018, 07:56:37 PM »
Thanks for all the thoughtful comments - there were some facets to the decision that you guys brought forward.   I decided to take the city hall job - starting in early January.

Arni


G-dog

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #15 on: December 20, 2018, 07:58:29 PM »
Thanks for all the thoughtful comments - there were some facets to the decision that you guys brought forward.   I decided to take the city hall job - starting in early January.

Arni

Congrats - Iíd love to hear some general updates on your learnings as you tackle this.

MrThatsDifferent

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #16 on: December 20, 2018, 08:21:52 PM »
Thanks for all the thoughtful comments - there were some facets to the decision that you guys brought forward.   I decided to take the city hall job - starting in early January.

Arni

Congrats - Iíd love to hear some general updates on your learnings as you tackle this.

+1

okits

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #17 on: December 20, 2018, 08:34:02 PM »
They're lucky to have you; I hope you enjoy this new adventure!

Cannot Wait!

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #18 on: December 20, 2018, 09:38:22 PM »
Late to the party!

I would have said, "Which job makes you say HELL YEAH,"?

;)

CampMustacheToronto

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Re: Should I stay (Barista FIRE) or should I go?
« Reply #19 on: December 30, 2018, 07:04:12 AM »
Thanks all - it all starts in about two weeks.   Hell yeah!

Arn