If it’s wrong, Bob probably did it …

May 23, 2013 — 19 Comments

If you are a reader of this site, you are probably familiar that I resigned last week and took a position in a new firm. In addition to the stress that came along with the decision to leave, came the stress associated with figuring out an exit strategy. And by “exit strategy” I mean “work myself into the ground to get as many things completed as possible before I leave….”

… and I am exhausted.


red exit sign


I have slowly been telling people that I’m leaving – don’t be too surprised when I tell you not everyone I know reads these posts. Most have taken it pretty well and, without too much deviation, most of those conversations have gone like this:


Bob: So, uhm, I need to let you know something

Generic (but awesome) Person: That would be a change – Oooooo ZING! Seriously … what is it, sounds ominous.

Bob: It is, but it isn’t. I resigned from my job last week. My last day here will be June 14th but I’ve offered to make myself available to continue answer questions beyond that point should the need arise. I’ll also be wrapping most of my work up for you during the next few weeks and making sure everybody knows where any bodies might be buried.

Generic (but awesome) Person: Wow – that’s really great for you … kinda sucks for me. I’ll send you over a few [hundred thousand] things that you can hopefully deal with before you leave. Besides, if anything does come up after you leave, we’ll just blame you.

[and scene]


I suppose I’m not surprised that people are burying me with things they want to make sure get my attention before I leave – it’s probably what I would do if our roles were reversed. Even though I officially gave notice a week ago, I knew this was coming for a while and I have been filling holes and trying to put everything that requires my attention on the front burner for a much longer period of time. Until my new employment deal was finalized, it wasn’t a sure thing. I’ve had enough jobs in my career and been around enough blocks to have seen what happens when someone mentally “moves on.” We all can guess what happens – they become worthless at best, and a virus to other members of the staff at worst.

The architectural community isn’t so large that I can afford to be cavalier with how I go about doing my job. It’s also not the way I handle things – my reputation is really the most important thing I will leave with as I move into the next phase of my career and I will protect it with every tool and ability I have at my disposal. If you haven’t figured out the value of your reputation, or come to realize that how people see you will be how people treat you, I think I know how you should spend your weekend.

There are 23 days left before I am officially no longer an employee at my current firm. 23 days …. that’s not a lot of time when you realize that how people regard you after you leave will be established during this time frame. If you don’t go about your business professionally, what you’ll hear a lot is:

“If it’s wrong, Bob probably did it.”

[except, you know, with your name instead of mine]



Bob signature

P.S. That week after June 14th is the National AIA Convention in Denver – which I will be attending. If you are going to be there, make sure to let me know, maybe we can get something put together.



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  • lardavis1951

    Stay in one place for 36+ years, and you get to see a few of these exit scenarios play out. The “make them stay to finish up” sucks in so many ways. The “where’s what’s his name?” seems to have been the late boss’s favourite. If he couldn’t trust you, he wanted you out of here. Paranoid that you’d do something that would reflect badly on the firm, or you’d sow the seeds of your discontent amongst the other minions. Having picked up the pieces after they made one guy stay too long, I’d prefer the later method of severance.

    • I suppose it depends on how well you know your people and their state of mind that lead to them leaving in the first place. Luckily, the people I have had the good fortune to work for know that I have – and will continue to have – their best interests in mind where ever possible. I have been around people that where like viruses and needed to leave once they actually decided they were going to leave.

  • polarbear

    Great post, im in the same boat “moving on” ive been hinting but not told a sole at work for its not 100% final!!! and then ahhh pure relief…

  • Paul Gerber

    Best of luck in your new career adventure, but I know a celebrity [gag] like you doesn’t need luck!

    I’m thinking I too need a change of vocational scenery! Hopefully I will have the same success you have had in finding a new opportunity, even without the celebrity [gag] status you enjoy!

  • Pat Smith

    Good luck! I’m a new reader drawn to your Dec 2011 post on showers and infinity drains. Probably not a good time to ask as you will be busy till 6/14, but have you had any further experience with the drains?

    • I don’t write about them very often but we use those Infinity drains all the time – I highly recommend them. If you want to save yourself some money, install them about 2″+ of the wall. That way you can keep your framing as is without having to worry about off setting the drain. I can’t really explain it better but if you have a contractor worth a lick, they should know what I mean.


  • Cyra

    Upward & onward! Congrats!! I can say I knew you when…..

    • You sure can – in fact, you are on of the originals here at LoaA and I will never forget it.


  • Mark Mc Swain

    Now, the other aspect of this which will be a true test of Bob’s skills, will be the moving to a new place, and being “New Guy” but (presumably) not New-Junior-Guy, but New-Boss-like-Guy.

    Moving into leadership positions requires great care. The new person has to learn all the conventions, traditions, SOP, and the like that make the other firm work. This means needing a certain passivity, being quiet, absorbant, the least bit compliant.
    Yet, it also requires bringing the firmness, the surety, the experience of being a known mentor, a dissemination source point, a ‘decider”–which is active, assertive, firm.
    Which makes it a contrary sort of thing, one very easy to do less-well. And, for those well-skilled in such things, the effortlessness they demonstrate offers few clues on just what to emulate, and what to eschew.
    But, so far, my bets are on Bob,

    • Thanks – I appreciate the vote of confidence. The easy part of this particular transition is two fold –

      1) I am older than all the other employees except the current partner; and

      2) I am a celebrity [gag]

      Truthfully, the combination of my knowledge and experience, coupled with my immaturity and fondness for potty humor disarms most people. Rather than focusing on the important things, most spend their time thinking “did he really just say what I think he said?”

  • Mark Mc Swain

    Well, there are traditions in this.
    Like senority determines who gets to trawl through the “stuff” left behind by [leaving employee]; so the cool post-it pads, the red stapler, blank TPS reports . . .
    There’s also the traditional scramble if the workspace is a “cool” one to claim it first (sometimes related to the snagging the office supplies, as noted above).
    Now, blaming the [gone guy] is just a natural consequence–when some one asks “Who did [dunderheaded thing]?” the chorus .of “Not Me” will never include [departed employee]; ergo, that person /must/ have been the guilty one.
    There’s a weird co-component of, despite the fact that all the parties will have been told that [name] was leaving, and on [date certain], there will always be that one person who paid no attention, and will keep calling back, years, even decades, later, to be surprised to discover [name] is not only absent, but none of the interns answerign the phone have ever even heard of [name] (but, most interns barely know that modular masonry is, well, modular)..

  • I am excited to read about your new venture, and convinced you’ll leave the current job with your reputation intact.

    • [of course, I haven’t mentioned all the blackmail material I have … muuuhawwhaaawhaaw!]

  • You are wise beyond your years, Bob. Leaving a firm is never easy on a number of levels but even more difficult when it is a firm you have been truly invested in and devoted to. I hope to see you at the convention in Denver!

    • Thanks, I appreciate it. Re: Denver – that sounds good, I am hoping to run into lots of different people!

  • K. Shepard. – Annapolis


    As an architect that did it the wrong way 7 years ago, after 11 years of employment, kudos to you. There is a lot of regret that comes with a hasty retreat. Even if my employment situation caused me anxiety just driving to the office each morning, I certainly could have handled it better.

    Best of luck in your new endeavor!

    • I think everyone has to get it wrong once in order to realize how to handle things in a better way. I had my moment about 15 years ago … and I still have regrets over how I handled things. I try and console myself by thinking about how young and immature I was but it hasn’t helped.

      with age comes experience, hopefully I learned something from the first time.


  • Michael

    Sound advice, and good luck with the move!

    • Thanks Michael – other than working ridiculously hard, everything has been going extremely well.