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June 30, 2014


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I have been retired since 1992 so the following experience that I encountered may be commonplace today but it wasn't in my time.

There was a unique engineer working in the missile structures department at my company, which is now the leading aerospace company. He was far and away the smartest engineer I have ever known and had a PhD from Stanford University. He became the "Go To" guy in our department. Often when I needed some help I would walk over to his desk, explain the problem I was having and ask his help. On several occasions he would pull out one of his folders, find a particular piece of coding that did exactly what I was looking for and hand me a copy. Pretty soon he was showing us all techniques that would make our work a lot easier and quicker and we all looked up to him a great deal.

After a while he realized that even though he was at the highest salary grade available in our department he was quite underpaid for his many capabilities but had no interest in getting into management. He then decided to meet with our division manager and make an interesting proposal.

His proposal was that instead of being at the top of the ladder as an employee he proposed that he be allowed to quit the company as an employee and be hired back in as a consultant. The company agreed, he gave up his 401K, his pension, vacation, health, and other benefits, and was hired back in at a far greater salary than existed for employees.

Some months later a unique and vital task arose in the department for which none of us had the capability to perform because it required an understanding of a little known computer language that none of us had any familiarity with. He bought a book on the language and within a couple of weeks he had taught himself how to program in it. He then went on to generate the software required, it worked perfectly, and the project was successfully completed. His contract also allowed him to do consulting work for other companies so ultimately his earnings became much greater than he could have ever obtained as an employee.

I made a note to myself to remember this post. You've gained a lot of business insights in a short time, ones that some people never learn! I particularly like your tone-- confident without being cocky.

This is a great post!

I'd like to thank FMF as well for the emphasis on managing your career. I experienced 17% salary growth in 2013 at my current job. My husband just accepted a new job today for a 25% increase after going two years without a raise at his current employer.

Having the mindset of an active manager of my work/labor as opposed to just an employee subject to the whims of upper management has been invaluable in creating this success. Thanks!

Wow, what a great post! I'm guessing that this one didn't garner a lot of comments due to its length, but it's so well written and informative that it was worth every minute of reading.

The author is extremely impressive, and I'm pretty sure that just about any employer would be very happy to have him. He is wise beyond his years, and I especially appreciate that he understands being rich isn't just about the money. I also agree with @louisa that he's confident, not cocky.

Thanks for the kind words! I am the author of that post and I was worried that it might be a bit too long to keep people interested, but that's just how long it took to tell the story that I wanted to tell :) Thanks to those who read through it all and gave me some feedback.

@Old Limey: I've heard of people in that sort of situation, and would love to be in that position. I'm amazed at the amount of money consultants can bring in, which is even more amazing when I think how poor a job some of them do. Makes me think that could be a good route to go someday.

@louisa: I'm glad that I didn't come off as cocky. I was worried going into it that my story might come off as bragging and not be terribly interesting, so I'm glad it was received well.

@ALR: Congratulations to you and your husband! I agree that being active and proactive instead of just passively accepting whatever is passed to you is a key way to a successful career, and it's so much more satisfying.

@M20: Thanks so much, I really appreciated that comment! I hope to join you in the millionaire club someday ;)

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