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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: of 744781  
Subject: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 1:19 PM
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Yesterday was my last day at work. Today, I'm suddenly retired. But, it doesn't feel the way I had imagined it. Certainly not the way I've heard it described on this board for the last two years. I guess the reason for that is the way that it happened. Let me tell you about it.

The last five years in my job as an engineering manager at Texas Instruments had become increasingly stressful. Then, when business slowed drastically late last year, I began to recognize the early signs of serious trouble. Of course, with 26 years at TI, I had been through this cycle several times before, and the signs are always crystal clear. First we cut spending on everything from pencils to light bulbs. Then, we reduce R&D spending. But, like many times before, cutbacks like this don't help much; the sales continued to decline. None of my people had a clue about the seriousness of the situation, even though they were told. They were mostly young and extremely dedicated to their work. They hardly lifted their heads up to see what was going on.

I had built a great group of engineers and technicians. I had hired them all myself, one at a time, over the last 12 years. They came from every corner of the earth, and we joked about looking like a United Nations Convention when we had a meeting. We worked together and played together. We learned all about each other's cultures, families, and dreams. We were more than fellow employees. We were friends.

The stress was really beginning to get to me this time, and I found myself thinking more and more about the free time that I didn't have. I was thinking about --- RETIREMENT?

I first began to consider early retirement about 10 years ago, but how would I be able to afford it? I didn't even know how to determine how much I would need (later this board changed all that). The stock market bull was just beginning to show signs of life, and, fortunately, I had received some fantastic advice from my grandfather when I was about eight years old (1955). He gave me some Standard Oil of New Jersey stock (now Exxon Mobil), the company where he had worked for 40 years, and explained how the stock market worked. This was all it took! I was hooked by the stock market. He taught me about stock investing over the next few years and cautioned me not to ever sell a single share of that Standard Oil. I never have! I have slowly built my portfolio over the ensuing years.

Then came Viet Nam and my investing career went on hold. For some reason, after I got out of the Army, I had totally lost interest in investing, and I just shelved my portfolio for many years. But I didn't sell any of my stocks, and all dividends continued to be reinvested!

Then, about eight years ago, I really got serious again about investing and saving for retirement. I maxed out my 401(k) and IRA. Profit sharing had blessed me with a considerable amount of TXN stock in my retirement account, and things were looking good! TI was booming, and stock options were being handed out as part of our yearly compensation. Of course I was only 43 at the time, and when I mentioned early retirement casually to some of my friends, they told me I was nuts. So, I quit talking about it, but the seed was planted in my mind for a plan to pull the plug at 55.

Well, about six weeks ago, the first step in the inevitable chain of events took place. A voluntary retirement package was offered to people over 50. It was a really good plan, including a week and a half of pay for every year worked with the company, plus a bridge to 55 (actually a leave of absence), which would allow you to have access to your 401(k) funds at 55. But, I was only 53, and all my stocks had suffered badly in the market crash over the past year, not to mention the 70% decline in TXN stock, my largest holding! I couldn't even consider it. My plan was for 55, and I would even consider working a little longer until TXN came back up in price. No thank you! No early retirement for me!

My main concern was for my people. I knew what was about to happen - or so I thought!!

In early April, the public announcement that I had been expecting was made. TI would be having layoffs. I was then told privately that I would be required to let over half my staff go on April 25. What a sad thing; even though I had known it was coming!! These were my friends. Now came the grim task of deciding who would go and who would stay, and, of course, I was bound to total secrecy. For the next few weeks I went through the motions as I watched my young engineers eagerly dig into their work each day, totally oblivious to the impending doom, as I made my list. They had no idea.

Then, the unexpected bombshell - I was also going to HAVE to take the early retirement! Imagine that! I was being forced out! Not only that, but I had to keep it a secret until after the layoffs were finished!

As the reality of the situation began to sink in, I became really depressed, and endless questions flowed through my mind. How could they do this to me after 26 years? Why me? What if I refuse the package? Do I have enough money in my retirement portfolio to retire? Will I have to try to find another job? What chance would I have of being hired at age 53? Could I still do engineering work? After all, I had been a manager for the last 15 years. Should I change to a new profession? Why couldn't TXN stock have been high instead of low? I spent a lot of time with my door closed reading the Retire Early board here on TMF.

I wasn't sleeping enough. My people began to notice my change in behavior and ask me what was wrong. They thought I was sick; maybe I was. I couldn't tell them.

Last Wednesday, I did my layoffs. It was terrible. It came as a total shock to most of my people. A few had enough years in the business so they had also recognized the signs, but it was still a surprise when it actually happened. TI had been so strong such a short time ago. Many of these people had received huge bonuses to come to work for TI only a year or so earlier. There was nearly complete silence as I called them to my office one by one. Then there were tears and muffled whispering and the sounds of packing personal belongings. Then I escorted them out, one by one, took their badges, and they were gone. This was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do.

Even though I had done layoffs twice before in my career, this time it was far worse than ever before. This time, I had developed closer friendships and, beyond that, I knew that I was going to follow them out the door a few days later. I think being older also has considerably softened the way I look at things.

Needless to say, the retirement party that the 'survivors' threw for me last Friday was somewhat subdued. I appreciated the gesture, and I did the best I could with the smiles and cheerful talk, but deep inside, I was depressed and worried.

Yesterday, I packed my things, and walked out the door with my shiny new retiree badge.

I have a lot of mixed feelings just now.

Russ
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Author: ziggy29 Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37201 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 1:23 PM
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>> Last Wednesday, I did my layoffs. It was terrible. It came as a total shock to most of my people. A few had enough years in the business so they had also recognized the signs, but it was still a surprise when it actually happened. TI had been so strong such a short time ago. Many of these people had received huge bonuses to come to work for TI only a year or so earlier. There was nearly complete silence as I called them to my office one by one. Then there were tears and muffled whispering and the sounds of packing personal belongings. Then I escorted them out, one by one, took their badges, and they were gone. This was one of the hardest things I've ever had to do. <<

While there are other reasons (mostly related to stress and the level of crap you put up with), this is probably Reason Number One why I don't think I ever want to become a manager.

#29


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Author: rgpeters Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37202 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 1:26 PM
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Russ,

Head up, shoulders back, chest out.....Stand tall Sir.

There are a lot of good eggs in this world; and you sir are one of them.

It was my pleasure to give that message its first rec. Good Luck to you in your new life. You deserve it.

Greg


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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37212 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 3:25 PM
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Author: rgpeters Date: 5/1/01 1:26 PM Number: 37202

Greg,

Thanks for the kind words. I'll do my best!

Russ

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Author: golfwaymore Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37214 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 3:42 PM
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There are a lot of good eggs in this world; and you sir are one of them.

I echo that as well Russ, I wish you all the best.

You are NOW living life on YOUR terms, not someone else's.

My favorite Braveheart/William Wallace quote is "All men have life, but not all men truly live!"

I know the sudden change is a bit of a culture shock to you. But this is your chance to live.

Golfwaymore



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Author: MACDO001 Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37219 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 4:28 PM
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Russ
It's a shock when you see your last paycheck and know there won't be more of them coming along. In my case, I started to analyse every little expenditure to see if it was necessary. Eventually, I started working as a consultant and found that life is good, after all. I work as much as I want and have lots of time to do the things I want.

With your background, I'm sure you can find some work, if you feel you need the money or the activity. Good people are still needed and even if you were pushed out the door at one company, there are plenty of companies needing experienced people. Having the first pension coming in helps put things into perspective and you can find something that will hold your interest. And, best of all, you'll be double dipping until you decide to pull the plug again. It doesn't get much better than that.

Good luck.

Mike

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Author: arrete Big funky green star, 20000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37220 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 4:37 PM
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It's really too bad that you had to enter RE on such a sour note. RE should be approached with eagerness, and you just didn't have that chance. The memory of your last few weeks will fade in time, and I hope that you will look back on your inadvertent exit as a good thing. It is a real shame when a company lets a loyal employee down. Unfortunately, becoming more and more common. Best of luck.

arrete

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Author: NiseNet One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37228 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 5:55 PM
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Russ:

It's pretty tough to have such a change thrust on you, but you will adjust. You might consider some type of bridge job. Something part time and interesting to help you through the transition. It could be paid or volunteer.

Your story is to the point of what's wrong with corporate life. Companies want, but give, no loyalty. Companies planning to pull the rug out from under employees use middle and upper-middle managers as their tools, and they too often go along with that. It seems to me that you could have dropped some hints to engineers who would "eagerly dig into work." Why punish them for jobs well done by allowing them to be deluded? And once you knew that you were getting the ax, what did it matter at all? It would have been kind to let your employees know what was coming. And why participate in the cruel process of telling each worker and then escorting him or her out? You feel shell shocked and you had some warning. Your former employees must feel really awful.

NiseNet

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Author: wcabbott One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37229 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 5:58 PM
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Russ, you have my sympathies, my friend. No doubt this has been a traumatic life event for you the past few months. You will manage, because you did your duty (see #4 below).

Perhaps we can all draw a few real life lessons from this - here are some I suggest.

1.) Life is not fair.
2.) There ARE alligators under the bed.
3.) No matter how loudly an employer proclaims "people first, employees are our greatest asset, etc., etc.," EVERYONE IS EXPENDABLE.
4.) Your first duty is to your spouse and family.
5.) Therefore, it behoves each of us to reach FIRE as quickly as possible and insulate ourselves from the shock of unexpected job loss.
6.) We should, in some small way, teach the lesson of FIRE when we can, especially to those close to us.

wcabbott

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Author: intercst Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37233 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 6:18 PM
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I was laid-off twice during my 17-year Engineering career. However, the liberal application of my "3 for 1 rule" certainly took much of the sting out of it.

One lesson the youngsters need to learn is to not put much stock in corporate promises of raises, promotions and my favorite, the proverbial "future opportunities".

The only thing that counts is "cash up front".

intercst

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Author: slyce One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37248 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 7:42 PM
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Russ,

Take heart, this too shall pass.

I like the personal quote in your profile. In case you have forgotten it states:

"When you come to a fork in the road, take it!" Yogi Bera

Here's another favorite quote attributed to Rose Kennedy:

"After a storm, the birds always sing. Why then shouldn't we?"

To your credit you have planned for many years for retirement so the transition should not catch you off guard, at least financially. As for your friends and fellow workers, often times the changes we face lead us to better opportunities. I feel for you and them, but there isn't anything about this situation that is a matter of life or death, so appropriately you should keep it in its' proper context.

Best of luck in your retirement and investing efforts.


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Author: galeno Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37249 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 7:46 PM
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intercst wrote:
I was laid-off twice during my 17-year Engineering career. However, the liberal application of my "3 for 1 rule" certainly took much of the sting out of it.

Is that the "3 for 1 rule" for time? Or is that how many women you date at once? <vbg> And touche my friend for my $65 typo.

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Author: sjmins One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37259 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 9:04 PM
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Russ:

It sounds as though you really enjoy your work. Do you want to be "retired"? Or do you simply want to be able to make your own choices?

It might be worth considering starting up your own company with some of the people you've been working with. Surely there is some niche you know of, that you can utilize. You must have valuable contacts. Maybe there is some part of the Business that TI no longer feels is viable, but could be done profitably by much a smaller and more dynamic company?

Also, to all those that have read and replied to Russ' story: Am I the only one who sees the irony in this? We are all investors. The reason companies like TI implement these kind of drastic changes is to satisfy shareholders clamoring for profits.

Thanks for sharing the story Russ. You sound like a great guy to work for. 26 years is along time, but this could be your biggest opportunity yet, whatever you decide to do.

I wish you the best.

Steve

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Author: golfwaymore Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37261 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 10:02 PM
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It seems to me that you could have dropped some hints to engineers who would "eagerly dig into work." Why punish them for jobs well done by allowing them to be deluded? And once you knew that you were getting the ax, what did it matter at all? It would have been kind to let your employees know what was coming.

If I recall, Russ explained that the severance package he was offered was very generous, and acceptable.

My guess is the one thing worse than being "outed" with severance, would be being shown the door with nothing but your personal belongings. I'm betting Russ letting the employees in on the plan would not have gone over well at all.

Golfwaymore



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Author: FlyingCircus Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37264 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 10:20 PM
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My favorite Braveheart/William Wallace quote is "All men have life, but not all men truly live!"

Close. It's even more effective than that.

"Every man dies. Not every man really lives."

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Author: golfwaymore Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37268 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/1/2001 10:38 PM
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My favorite Braveheart/William Wallace quote is "All men have life, but not all men truly live!"

Close. It's even more effective than that.

"Every man dies. Not every man really lives."


Thanks Flying Circus - my mistake, and I should have known better.

I used to come home and watch the first half hour of Braveheart everytime I had a bad day. After seeing what those people endured, I'd end my little pity party convinced that "my life ain't so bad after all!"

This has been a bad week. Perhaps I should turn it on this evening!

Golfwaymore



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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37276 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 3:08 AM
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<<." Why punish them for jobs well done by allowing them to be deluded? And once you knew that you were getting the ax, what did it matter at all? It would have been kind to let your employees know what was coming. And why participate in the cruel process of telling each worker and then escorting him or her out? You feel shell shocked and you had some warning. Your former employees must feel really awful.
>>c


I don't think your recommendations have anything to recommend them. I don't think companies are being deliberately cruel --- they appear to be managing a difficult process reasonably. Informing people in advance of an impending layoff merely invites possible acts of negligence or vandalism by employees. Escorting employees off the premises again prevents possible acts of violence or damage that might occur under stress.

One senior manager in the utility I worked for felt badly enough that he shot himself in his office. Is exposing more people to that stress and temptation doing anyone any good? Better to get people off the premises and headed home.


Seattle Pioneer




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Author: NiseNet One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37288 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 10:22 AM
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Golfwaymore and Seattle Pioneer:

I'm not debating whether or not fired employees should be escorted out of the workplace. I'm wondering why Russ was willing to do so after he got the ax himself. Once Russ had signed the severence package contract, he could have informed the company that someone else would have to do the telling and escorting. And why not drop some hints to hard workers at that point?

"My guess is the one thing worse . .. would be shown the door with nothing . . ."

Isn't that what Russ was willing to do to other employees? Wasn't he in on the plans to fire workers while, he believed, he would keep his job? Sounds like he may not have liked the company's plans, but he was willing to go along with them when he thought that doing so would allow him to keep his job.

It always surprises me how employees will take on the company identity and be willing to do its dirty work. There are all sorts of ways the few who run the company pull in those below. They let managers get the occasional whiff of leather in the conference room, give a few perks once in a while, let people have the paternalistic thrill of referring to workers as "my people" (don't tell me the military history of that use; it's been co-opted by business for different reasons), and generally lead them to believe that they are one of the few who are playing in rarified air. As Russ' cases demonstrates, middle and upper-middle managers are often expendable, however, once they have served their purpose.

NiseNet



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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37295 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:17 PM
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golfwaymore:
I know the sudden change is a bit of a culture shock to you. But this is your chance to live.

I agree with you, and like your name says, I will try to golfwaymore.

Thanks, Russ


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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37296 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:22 PM
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Author: MACDO001 Date: 5/1/01 4:28 PM Number: 37219

Mike wrote:
With your background, I'm sure you can find some work

I've pretty much decided that I will not return to engineering. Instead, I have applied for a teaching job at the local junior college. I did some teaching while working on my master's degree and always liked it. In addition, the college seems to want me, so I think I will be teaching math and basic electricity starting this fall.

Thanks, Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37298 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:26 PM
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Author: arrete Date: 5/1/01 4:37 PM Number: 37220

The memory of your last few weeks will fade in time

Thanks arrete! I'm sure you're right, and I can already feel that I'm beginning to look forward to something new.

I just had to get my feelings written down, hoping that others might understand what it's really like to be a manager in a high-tech company these days.

Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37299 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:35 PM
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NiseNet wrote:
It seems to me that you could have dropped some hints to engineers who would "eagerly dig into work." Why punish them for jobs well done by allowing them to be deluded? And once you knew that you were getting the ax, what did it matter at all? It would have been kind to let your employees know what was coming. And why participate in the cruel process of telling each worker and then escorting him or her out? You feel shell shocked and you had some warning. Your former employees must feel really awful.

I dropped as many hints as I could get away with. I even held a meeting and told them that layoffs were coming and why. I just couldn't tell them how many or who it would be. Even with all this, there were many who just didn't believe it could happen to them. Neither could I.

You have to understand that I had to be careful with what I did, because I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize my early retirement severance package. The procedure for doing the actual layoffs was a written directive from HR. Based on studies they made, it was felt that each person should be told individually and personally. There just isn't any good way to do this type of thing.

Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37301 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:37 PM
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Author: wcabbott Date: 5/1/01 5:58 PM Number: 37229
Perhaps we can all draw a few real life lessons from this - here are some I suggest.
1.) Life is not fair.
2.) There ARE alligators under the bed.
3.) No matter how loudly an employer proclaims "people first, employees are our greatest asset, etc., etc.," EVERYONE IS EXPENDABLE.
4.) Your first duty is to your spouse and family.
5.) Therefore, it behoves each of us to reach FIRE as quickly as possible and insulate ourselves from the shock of unexpected job loss.
6.) We should, in some small way, teach the lesson of FIRE when we can, especially to those close to us.


Thanks for all the life lessons. I agree with all of them.

Russ



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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37303 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:47 PM
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Author: intercst Date: 5/1/01 6:18 PM Number: 37233
One lesson the youngsters need to learn is to not put much stock in corporate promises of raises, promotions and my favorite, the proverbial "future opportunities".

You are 100% right! In fact, no manager can ever promise you anything in the future. No matter how sincere, there are simply too many unknowns. If (s)he does promise you something, then (s)he is either very inexperienced, or more likely, (s)he is simply trying to talk you into something you don't really want. Beware!

Russ


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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37304 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:48 PM
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Author: slyce Date: 5/1/01 7:42 PM Number: 37248
Here's another favorite quote attributed to Rose Kennedy:

"After a storm, the birds always sing. Why then shouldn't we?"


Great quote! Thanks for your nice comments.

Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37305 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:53 PM
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Author: sjmins Date: 5/1/01 9:04 PM Number: 37259
Do you want to be "retired"? Or do you simply want to be able to make your own choices?

It is clearly the latter. I'm very close to FI/RE, and I intend to do things that I want to from now on. I only need a small amount of income, and if the market will cooperate, I won't need any. That's why I'm planning to teach - simply for the love of it - certainly not for the money!.

Also, to all those that have read and replied to Russ' story: Am I the only one who sees the irony in this? We are all investors. The reason companies like TI implement these kind of drastic changes is to satisfy shareholders clamoring for profits.

You are absolutely correct. It is the stockholders who demand this type of thing to happen.

Thanks for your comments,

Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37306 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:56 PM
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golfwaymore wrote:

If I recall, Russ explained that the severance package he was offered was very generous, and acceptable.

My guess is the one thing worse than being "outed" with severance, would be being shown the door with nothing but your personal belongings. I'm betting Russ letting the employees in on the plan would not have gone over well at all.


You are absolutely right. With the actions being taken, it would not be much of a stretch to be denied my RE package.

Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37307 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 12:58 PM
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FlyingCircus wrote:
"Every man dies. Not every man really lives."

I know this quote well, and now, I plan to make sure I do the latter before the former.

Thanks, Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37308 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 1:05 PM
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Author: SeattlePioneer Date: 5/2/01 3:08 AM Number: 37276
I don't think companies are being deliberately cruel --- they appear to be managing a difficult process reasonably. Informing people in advance of an impending layoff merely invites possible acts of negligence or vandalism by employees. Escorting employees off the premises again prevents possible acts of violence or damage that might occur under stress.

You're right. Studies have shown that (a very very small number) of people can act irrationally and violently under these circumstances if given time to work themselves up over it. It is safer (if less humane) for themselves and the other workers to do it the way we did.

One senior manager in the utility I worked for felt badly enough that he shot himself in his office.

I felt really really bad, but not this bad. Life will go on. I have full confidence that everyone will find another job - maybe even better than they had. After all, TI experience on their resumes is quite valuable in the semiconductor industry.

Is exposing more people to that stress and temptation doing anyone any good? Better to get people off the premises and headed home.

Exactly right.

Thanks, Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37310 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 1:19 PM
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NiseNet wrote:

Isn't that what Russ was willing to do to other employees? Wasn't he in on the plans to fire workers while, he believed, he would keep his job? Sounds like he may not have liked the company's plans, but he was willing to go along with them when he thought that doing so would allow him to keep his job.

The people who were layed off all got very good severance packages; the best I've ever seen. I don't think I should disclose the details.

No, I felt that it was my job to do the layoffs. I knew well in advance of the layoffs that I would have to take the RE package. I probably could have refused to do it, but that would have only caused more bad feelings and burned any bridges I might still have. My managers feel the same way I do. I personally know the CEO, Tom Engibous, and he also feels very bad (maybe worse than I do) about this. He would have done anything short of jeopardizing the future of the company to avoid it.

You have to realize that the real boss is the stockholder. And, after a decline of 70% in the stock price, coupled with even greater declines in earnings, as well as a very cloudy future, stockholders were simply not going to allow the company to keep doing what they were doing.

It's also important to remember that in many cases WE are the stockholders.

Russ

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Author: golfwaymore Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37317 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 1:42 PM
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I'm not debating whether or not fired employees should be escorted out of the workplace. I'm wondering why Russ was willing to do so after he got the ax himself. Once Russ had signed the severence package contract, he could have informed the company that someone else would have to do the telling and escorting.

Any severance package I've ever seen has contingencies in it and many a loophole for voiding the entire pact. If a man with a contingent package is sitting in a canoe, he better be sitting in the middle.

It always surprises me how employees will take on the company identity and be willing to do its dirty work. There are all sorts of ways the few who run the company pull in those below.

I'm not sure what your background is regarding management. FWIW, I believe your visions of responsibility are a bit misguided. There can be many pluses related to being management; there are also some negatives - firing people and implimenting layoffs come with the territory.





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Author: abbiesdad Three stars, 500 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37318 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 1:43 PM
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"...I have applied for a teaching job at the local junior college. I did some teaching while working on my master's degree and always liked it."

Russ,

I have taught for the past 6+ years on the university level. I must say that it is the hardest thing I have done...and I love it. The first year or 2 was difficult but now I think I am learning as much as the students.

Like the TV ad says, "Without teachers, where would (insert profession here) come from?"

Good luck and enjoy!

Ralph

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Author: riwrite Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37324 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 2:18 PM
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hoping that others might understand what it's really like to be a manager in a high-tech company these days

If it makes you feel any better... The only thing worse that happened to us (we are in the EXACT same boat as you) is that we were asked to uproot our family and move to another state to get the opportunity to move up in the company.. and then let go in this downturn. And yes, I had decided doing the dirty work was unacceptable...until TI made it impossible for it to be done any other way. Take the package or leave immediately with much less. Those of you who no amount of money could induce you to do it, remember until you stand in our shoes and have family to support...
Seems to me that Texas Instruments is more than a little shady in it's communications with it's employees in dangling promotions. And no I don't think telling people when you aren't supposed to is the right thing to do. But I do think packaging a promotion opportunity in a losing battle is so, so wrong. By the way, I also noticed TI (like most corporations) also doesn't reward managers like you for having integrity. They promote and keep their friends (even unproductive ones) and don't want free thinkers no matter what Tom Engibous says about how painful the downsizing is.
Disclosure: I own 70% of my retirement portfolio in TXN. So don't think I'm slamming them just for gain. I'm still smarting.

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Author: Amphian Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37327 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 2:27 PM
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You're right. Studies have shown that (a very very small number) of people can act irrationally and violently under these circumstances if given time to work themselves up over it. It is safer (if less humane) for themselves and the other workers to do it the way we did.

The problem is that businesses often treat people with so little respect. I've been laid off twice. The first time was an hourly job, where they knew they were laying me (and only me at the time) off. To prevent my having any advanced knowledge, they refused to post the schedule for the next week, inconveniencing everyone in the company. They told me near the end of my last shift.

The second time I was laid off, they shut down the whole site. They cut off everyone's email and network access, so we were unable to contact anyone to pass on unfinished work. They also didn't have any actual information at the layoff meeting. They hadn't decided anything about severance packages. They didn't even know when our last day would be.

I have heard of people who were told they had to leave their possessions in their cubes and the items would be sent to them later. (There's no way in hell I would put up with this.)

If there are rumors about layoffs, smart people know it could happen to them. I don't think it matters much if you call all the employees to be laid off into a group, or do it one by one as long as you give people some respect and let people know as soon as possible whether they are in or out.

Amphian


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Author: jtmitch Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37330 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 2:50 PM
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Also, to all those that have read and replied to Russ' story: Am I the only one who sees the irony in this? We are all investors. The reason companies like TI implement these kind of drastic changes is to satisfy shareholders clamoring for profits.

You are absolutely correct. It is the stockholders who demand this type of thing to happen.

I have commented before that I think it is really ironic...people who want to retire early from the corporate world generally find that the most viable means of being financially able to do so is to invest heavily in the very same kinds of companies from which they are trying to escape.

jtmitch

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Author: markr33 Big gold star, 5000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37349 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 6:55 PM
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<<You are absolutely correct. It is the stockholders who demand this type of thing to happen.>>

I have commented before that I think it is really ironic...people who want to retire early from the corporate world generally find that the most viable means of being financially able to do so is to invest heavily in the very same kinds of companies from which they are trying to escape.


I don't know if this is entirely true. Some of the those companies who have had the greatest stock appreciation over the past decade or so have been companies in which the general level of employee morale has been quite high and where layoffs have been nonexistent. (MSFT, PFE, CSCO, GE, etc...) In some cases, this has been changing and those companies aren't doing as well as before.

Over the long-term, I suppose we should expect that those companies with happier employees will do better than those with miserable ones. Or perhaps it is the other way around - those companies which do well will tend to have happier employees.



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Author: NiseNet One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37351 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 7:10 PM
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Golfwaymore:

My background is: 5 years in an engineering company after a B.A. (tech pubs for submarine communication systems); then four years in management in a for-profit corporate hospital(amazingly cut throat). On to grad school for a Ph.D. and life in the academic world. Early retirement at 48, but I may return to university life, if it suits my research needs.

While in management at the hospital, we were bought by a new group, and we had cutbacks when profits fell. The CEO wanted to give the ax first to those employees who did not fit the company's new image. I just refused to do it. I said that I would fire employees who were not doing their jobs and who had gone through the process of verbal and written warnings. That added up to one person, and she needed to be fired. I was warned that my career could suffer if I insisted on not doing a full-scale clean out and rehiring. I still refused. I negoitated with another department to take one of my staff members whose "image" had especially excited the CEO's wrath. When he didn't see that person everyday, he forgot that person.

As for stockholders, and we are they, . . . isn't that one of the conundrums of modern life? We are all caught up in an imperfect world where self interest as stockholders and our common interest as workers are often in obvious conflict. In the long run, however, I'm not sure that they are really separate. Anyway, we have to make decisions each day that don't have satisfactory answers.

NiseNet

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Author: bill2975 Three stars, 500 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37355 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 7:29 PM
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Hi, Russ,

I'm sure this was difficult for you and for those you cared about - the people that you personally brought into a small team environment over the last 12 years.

It's surprising to me that such a high percentage of your group got laid off. I don't recall the overall numbers for TXN, but thought the overall percentage was a lot smaller than that.

FWIW - I've had to do similar things as a manager in high-tech over the years, and they're always a difficult thing to do, particularly if you have a small group and there's no obvious "miscreant" to get rid of. Personally, I find it easier emotionally to fire someone for non-performance or misbehavior. Layoffs of good people are very tough.

If everyone in the group not only worked together, but also socialized together outside of the office, you may find that the relationships can continue, and you can fill an important role in helping those laid off find other positions, providing references, coaching them on resumes and letter writing, etc.

The first person I ever laid off as a first level manager was very difficult for me to do. But in spite of that we have remained friends for 16 years now. Though we live on opposite coasts, we stop in to see her when visiting back East, and she visits us whenever she gets out here to California. But even if that doesn't work out for you, there can still be a role for you in coaching, helping, advocating and encouraging your folks as they line up other positions.

bill2075, who once found himself spending 3 hours at a wedding reception sitting next to a person he fired for incompetence 2 years previously - not the most comfortable experience

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Author: LLNunn Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37368 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 9:37 PM
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I have commented before that I think it is really ironic...people who want to retire early from the corporate world generally find that the most viable means of being financially able to do so is to invest heavily in the very same kinds of companies from which they are trying to escape.

Buying stock options in the oppressor is just one more way to build a hedge fund...;-)

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Author: golfwaymore Big gold star, 5000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37374 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 10:12 PM
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While in management at the hospital, we were bought by a new group, and we had cutbacks when profits fell. The CEO wanted to give the ax first to those employees who did not fit the company's new image. I just refused to do it. I said that I would fire employees who were not doing their jobs and who had gone through the process of verbal and written warnings.

So you're the guy who said, "I'm not JONES you idiot...." <grin>

Golfwaymore

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37379 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 11:14 PM
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Author: bill2975 Date: 5/2/01 7:29 PM Number: 37355
Bill wrote:
It's surprising to me that such a high percentage of your group got laid off. I don't recall the overall numbers for TXN, but thought the overall percentage was a lot smaller than that.

You are right that my percentage was higher than most. The worldwide TI percentage was 6%, but Dallas was 10%. On top of that, I ran an Applications Branch, which was considered a support group, and we were hit much harder. I lost 53%. In addition, we had just gone through two critical performance evaluations over the past two years and let several marginal performers go each time. That left only the very best people.

you may find that the relationships can continue

I plan to try to stay in touch with most of the people who left. Many will be going back to school to get their MSEE (funded partially by TI in their separation package, I might add). Two of them may be coming back to TI in positions I was able to identify in the two days I had between the layoffs and my departure. The one who will be in the most trouble is the one who was 55 but only had eight years with TI.

I have actually had to do layoffs two other times, but those were 15 and 19 years ago, and I was young and hardly knew the magnitude of what I was doing. It never really bothered me then. This time, I really knew the seriousness of what I was doing, and I was going to have to leave, myself, as well. Very different this time!

Thanks for your comments,

Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37380 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 11:16 PM
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Author: abbiesdad Date: 5/2/01 1:43 PM Number: 37318
I have taught for the past 6+ years on the university level. I must say that it is the hardest thing I have done...and I love it. The first year or 2 was difficult but now I think I am learning as much as the students.

I expect the first year or two will be difficult for me as well, but I am really looking forward to it!

Russ



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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37383 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/2/2001 11:22 PM
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If it makes you feel any better... The only thing worse that happened to us (we are in the EXACT same boat as you) is that we were asked to uproot our family and move to another state to get the opportunity to move up in the company.. and then let go in this downturn.

I am so glad it wasn't this bad in my case!

Russ

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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37388 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/3/2001 2:49 AM
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<<I have commented before that I think it is really ironic...people who want to retire early from the corporate world generally find that the most viable means of being financially able to do so is to invest heavily in the very same kinds of companies from which they are trying to escape.
>>


Heck, I was glad to work for twenty years doing clerical and later construction and repair work for a utility company. I still own stock in the company. But their quite reasonable pay and benefits allowed me to save and invest enough so that I have no need to work there any longer. It's not that they were a trashy employer --- not at all; rather they gave me the means to work myself out of wage slavery and into financial independence.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: catvallou One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37403 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/3/2001 9:11 AM
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My sympathies. You're a good guy to feel so lousy about what happened. Maybe it would help to write your proteges letters (mailed to their homes) about how it all was beyond your control, and the lesson they should take away from it. (People are loyal, companies aren't, whatever.) And/or offer them personal reference letters for their files, sometimes that's very useful in their jobhunting.

Are you in Dallas? Then throw a bag and a cooler in the car, drive to Corpus Christi, and hang on the beach 'til the taste of bile is completely gone. It's a beautiful world and you are free to enjoy it now.

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Author: clufool Two stars, 250 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37428 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/3/2001 11:57 AM
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I first began to consider early retirement about 10 years ago, but how would I be able to afford it? I didn't even know how to determine how much I would need (later this board changed all that). The stock market bull was just beginning to show signs of life, and, fortunately, I had received some fantastic advice from my grandfather when I was about eight years old (1955). He gave me some Standard Oil of New Jersey stock (now Exxon Mobil), the company where he had worked for 40 years, and explained how the stock market worked. This was all it took! I was hooked by the stock market. He taught me about stock investing over the next few years and cautioned me not to ever sell a single share of that Standard Oil. I never have! I have slowly built my portfolio over the ensuing years.

I know it's none of my business but my curiosity is just "killing" me. How much stock did he give you, and how much is it worth now?

Great post and good luck in your new endeavor.

cf


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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37447 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/3/2001 2:46 PM
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<<I know it's none of my business but my curiosity is just "killing" me. How much stock did he give you, and how much is it worth now?
>>


My recent copy of the Exxon/Mobil annual report noted that stock held for thirty years with dividends reinvested paid off at more than 100 to one. That would have included the 1970s oil price run up.



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37465 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/3/2001 8:07 PM
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Author: clufool Date: 5/3/01 11:57 AM Number: 37428

curiosity is just "killing" me. How much stock did he give you, and how much is it worth now?

He only gave me 50 shares of J, but it's split many times over the years. I have also added to that holding over the years, but I've never gone back to figure what the value of the original 50 shares is now. If anyone knows, I'd be curious, myself.

Russ

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Author: intercst Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37466 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/3/2001 8:28 PM
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rkmacdonald asks,

curiosity is just "killing" me. How much stock did he give you, and how much is it worth now?

He only gave me 50 shares of J, but it's split many times over the years. I have also added to that holding over the years, but I've never gone back to figure what the value of the original 50 shares is now. If anyone knows, I'd be curious, myself.


A $1,000 investment in the s&p500 in 1955 was worth $258,000 by the year 2000 with dividends reinvested. I suspect XOM's performance was pretty close to the S&P500 over time. At least that's been true since 1970, see link:

http://finance.yahoo.com/q?d=c&c=&k=c1&t=my&s=xom&a=v&p=s&l=on&z=m&q=l&x=on

intercst



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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37470 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/3/2001 9:12 PM
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Did you reinvest dividends?



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: intercst Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Top Recommended Fools Feste Award Nominee! Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37473 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/3/2001 9:24 PM
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SeattlePioneer asks,

Did you reinvest dividends?

Yes, $1,000 in 1955 growing to $258,000 in 2000 includes reinvested dividends.

intercst


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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37479 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/3/2001 11:56 PM
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Author: SeattlePioneer Date: 5/3/01 9:12 PM Number: 37470
Did you reinvest dividends?

Not until around 1975. Prior to that I needed the money to help with living expenses.

Russ

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37483 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/4/2001 12:18 AM
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Author: intercst Date: 5/3/01 8:28 PM Number: 37466
A $1,000 investment in the s&p500 in 1955 was worth $258,000 by the year 2000 with dividends reinvested. I suspect XOM's performance was pretty close to the S&P500 over time.

I think that you may be close. I tried to figure out how many times it split to determine just the value of the original shares without reinvesting the dividends, but I don't know the number of splits. I seem to remember one that was not 2:1. My record keeping wasn't too good before about 1971. I guess I could get this data from XOM.

Whatever, it has sure turned out to be valuable gift and lesson from my grandfather!

BTW, I gave my son 50 shares of my XON in 1987 when he was eight years old. Since then, it has split twice and dividends have always been reinvested.

Russ




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Author: SeattlePioneer Big funky green star, 20000 posts Top Favorite Fools Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37490 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/4/2001 4:20 AM
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<<SeattlePioneer asks,

Did you reinvest dividends?

Yes, $1,000 in 1955 growing to $258,000 in 2000 includes reinvested dividends.

intercst

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Neat! A 258 bagger. That's more bases than in all of major league baseball!



Seattle Pioneer

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Author: rkmacdonald Big red star, 1000 posts Old School Fool Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37497 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/4/2001 10:04 AM
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Author: catvallou Date: 5/3/01 9:11 AM Number: 37403
Maybe it would help to write your proteges letters (mailed to their homes) about how it all was beyond your control, and the lesson they should take away from it. (People are loyal, companies aren't, whatever.) And/or offer them personal reference letters for their files, sometimes that's very useful in their jobhunting.

I agree. I didn't write a letter, but I spoke with each person after we were all out of the company and explained the situation in detail.

I am also writing reference letters for each.

Russ



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Author: sjmins One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37552 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/4/2001 8:16 PM
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Russ:

Teaching sounds like it will be very satisfying for you.

Good show.

Steve

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Author: sjmins One star, 50 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 37554 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/4/2001 8:26 PM
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I dont think anyone is saying that this is necessarily the smart thing to do (layoff personnel to increase profit, and thus support share price), but it is the intent.

We'd all be happier if the companies we worked for and invested in could be smart and creative enough to always offer new opportunities to employees, better compensation AND increase profits, while building shareholder value.

But, the marketplace is competetive. Some companies do better than others. Economics change. etc, etc etc.

And so.......people get laid off. Its not always the right thing to do either. Sometimes it does more damage in the long run. But it gets done with the INTENT of improving the bottom line.

Steve

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Author: peteyperson Big red star, 1000 posts Add to my Favorite Fools Ignore this person (you won't see their posts anymore) Number: 39089 of 744781
Subject: Re: Mixed Feelings Date: 5/17/2001 7:57 PM
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I have to agree, Russ. There is no good way to do it. It's akin to the feeling when you're dating someone you care about, but decide to be single again.

Pete


I dropped as many hints as I could get away with. I even held a meeting and told them that layoffs were coming and why. I just couldn't tell them how many or who it would be. Even with all this, there were many who just didn't believe it could happen to them. Neither could I.

You have to understand that I had to be careful with what I did, because I didn't want to do anything to jeopardize my early retirement severance package. The procedure for doing the actual layoffs was a written directive from HR. Based on studies they made, it was felt that each person should be told individually and personally. There just isn't any good way to do this type of thing.

Russ


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