Farewell Florida Blue

Last Tuesday I made another one of those decisions that will alter the course of my life. I’m leaving Florida Blue after 16+ years and moving to another great company named Adecco. This amount of change in such a short time is unprecedented for me and I find myself doing a lot of thinking about the past and what I’ll be leaving behind. The decision to leave Florida Blue was especially difficult. It is a great company. It cares about its employees and it treats them well. It also cares deeply about its customers and makes it easy to buy in to its mission by going out of its way to ensure that customers come first.

It’s much harder to leave a company when you believe in it and when you trust and appreciate the people that you work with. It’s also very hard to leave anywhere that you’ve spent as much time as I’ve spent at Florida Blue. I find myself deep in thought as I walk out of the parking lot each day, taking in the scenery and realizing that I will only make that walk a few more times in my life.

I grew up at Florida Blue. I started when I was 21 and was no more than a boy. I learned how to be a man there. I learned about responsibility and work ethic. I learned about the dangers of assuming you know more than everyone else and I learned how to get along with people. I learned so much about getting results in all kinds of different situations. I learned how business works, I learned the basics of sales and I learned how data moves behind the scenes and how to get things done in the IT world. The people that have worked closely with me can vouch that Florida Blue got its money’s worth from me. But what I find myself focusing on now as I try to transition my work is just how much I got from the company.

My father worked at Florida Blue for years before I arrived. That means I was being supported by the company before I even worked there. I met my best friend and my wife there along with countless other friends and outstanding relationships that I treasure today. Florida Blue gave me the opportunity to finish my education. It also gave me the opportunities to grow into my own as a leader, making decisions and living with and learning from the consequences. I can’t say enough good things about the company as a whole.

The question that I get the most is also the most obvious, why leave? Obviously it wasn’t an easy decision. The money had to be right of course, but it’s bigger than that. I owe it to myself at this point in my career to stretch my horizons. Much of my knowledge is institutionalized at this point. My first year at another good company will introduce me to countless differences that will help to shift and balance my experience. This will round out my experience nicely and has the potential to help me grow exponentially. I love Florida Blue. I think it’s one of the best companies in the country, but I know that if I remain there for my entire career that I will prevent myself from maximizing my potential due to the homogenous nature my experience.

And so I find myself saying goodbye to so many familiar sights and people. It’s not the first time that I’ve initiated an unexpected change in the direction of my career, but it is definitely the most difficult. I want to say thank you to all of the people that I worked with over the last 16 years. Thank you for your patience, your kindness and for all of the lessons that you have taught me. I have loved working with you and I will miss you dearly.

Sincerely,
Jonathan Oakes

Relating to Your Children

Snape’s Memory

I was rereading Harry Potter: the Order of the Phoenix recently when a scene made an impression on me in a way that it hadn’t before. It was the scene where Harry was able to see Snape’s memories of getting humiliated by Harry’s father and god-father when they were fifteen year olds in school. In the story the scene impacted Harry profoundly. It made him question his unwavering faith in the goodness of his idols and better understand Snape’s experience.

This reached me in a new way because I’ve become a father of my own little boy since the last time that I read the book. I thought about what Sebastian might see if he could view my life as a fifteen year old in school. What if the scene was of my worst moment from the viewpoint of someone who had reason to hate me? That’s an ugly little thought isn’t it? The problems surrounding me as a teenager were as numerous as the stars in the sky on a country night. I can scarcely remember a moment that I could point to and use an example of the life I want him to experience.

Frankly, it didn’t get much better over time. Littered throughout the first 25 years of my life are situations and examples that I don’t want my son to have to deal with. It’s interesting how far removed Sebastian will be from that. He was born when I was 36, 11 years after I started making significant strides towards maturity. The confident and capable person that he will experience as I raise him shares very little in common with the person I was before growing up.

That’s what got me thinking. I know I’m not the only one with a past that I’m not proud of that is working towards much better future. But how does that impact our kids? Most of us don’t want to talk much about our embarrassing pasts, least of all to the child that we want looking up to us as they grow older. But maybe that’s just what they need. I feel that quite a lot of the angst and anger that seems to come naturally from the teenage years has its roots in feeling misunderstood and frustrated. How much more meaningful would our advice be if our kids understood where we are really coming from. If they see that we have actually walked down these paths before and have meaningful advice for them based on experience. It’s very difficult for a teen to receive that advice from a boring old parent who doesn’t know what it’s like to go through the things that they are going through. I wager that it’s much easier for them to receive if its coming from a parent who can show that they empathize based on experience.

As I work on being the father that I want to be I hope that this lesson stays with me. There will come a point when he’s 15 and I’m 51 and he will be engaging in behavior that I dislike. I hope that I can still relate to my past and relay my experiences at that point into a meaningful tapestry of experience that he can relate to even if he doesn’t agree with what I’m saying.

Paying It Backward

I was at home doing my homework on a recent Saturday when I was struck by inspiration. I can say with certainty that the resulting idea is one of the best I’ve ever come up with. I know this to be true because of the great potential for it has for making people happy and the utter lack of self-gratification that it involves. Most of the rest of this blog talks about how the idea came to me, if you want to skip straight to the idea feel free to jump down to the last couple of paragraphs. But first, let me encourage you to share this message via your choice of social media sites. I’ve never asked anyone to share an article before and I probably won’t ever do it again. But I believe that we can make the world a little bit brighter if this message gets out to enough people. Read the rest of this entry

A Story of Repentance

My life changed forever about 9 years ago. I can’t remember the specific day or even the time of year but I remember the moment. If my life was a lever this moment would be the fulcrum. It’s the moment that I let go of myself and decided to trust Jesus. I don’t think I’ve ever written about it in detail before and I want to take some time with it today.

The only person with me at the time was my girlfriend Edith. This was before we got married. We were alone in the old apartment that I used to share with my brother Bob on Touchton road. It wasn’t uncommon for Edith and me to spend our time there. I can remember many Friday nights spent there together drinking homemade margaritas and playing darts on our twenty dollar Walmart dartboard or playing Tetris on goofy little game system that we could plug into the TV. Those were some of the best times of my life.

The source of hours of enjoyment

This was the year that I finished losing weight. I was 29 years old, 245 pounds, in good shape and I was happy. I remember that clearly. It was the first time in my life that I was really happy. This was a huge change for me, it was a revelation. I’m embarrassed by who I was before this period in my life. I was very angry. In my anger I rejected God. I knew who he was. I had been saved long before this and I had experienced his love clearly during the period when I was just leaving my teenage years.

Things changed for me though. Events happened that hurt me in fresh new ways that seemed at the time to be indescribably cruel. It felt like I had found a port after coming through a horrible storm only to have it ripped away from me again, leaving me in shock and defenseless against the pain. It was as if I had let down my defenses just to be attacked and defeated anew. This period of anguish peaked with my 21st birthday. I remember it clearly. I had moved back in to my father’s house after I left college before graduating and I was working my first serious job trying to earn enough money to move out. I remember that evening, I spent it utterly alone. I remember breaking down and bawling as I sat on my bed in the dark talking to my mother and telling her how lonely I was. Read the rest of this entry

Top 10 Comic Book Based Movies of All Time

I’m not your typical movie watcher. I pride myself on the ability to look at the commercials and previews of movies and judge whether or not they will be worth watching. Most of the time my answer is the same – “that’s going to be terrible”. Admittedly my picks are perfect, but the odds are with me considering the plethora of terrible movies being released on a regular basis.

I had the misfortune to watch one of those terrible movies on Saturday. It was X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The movie was sitting on our DVR for the past year or so and I finally worked up the motivation to give it a shot. It was one of those movies that I knew would be bad, but I like comics and it’s free so I figured I would give it a shot. I wish I hadn’t. What a frustrating movie. The thing that frustrated me most of all was the gratuitous use of other Marvel Universe characters who had no need to be in the movie. Gambit, Cyclops, Professor X, Emma Frost all made cameos for no good reason. Worse than that, they completely bastardized Deadpool, one of the more interesting characters in the setting, destroying much of his future big screen credibility with movie executives.

After getting stuck watching this steaming pile of film droppings I started thinking about films that did it right. Over the last few years we’re had more movies than ever based on comic books that exceeded our wildest expectations. I decided to put together my completely non-comprehensive list of the best 10 movies based on a comic book. Enjoy. Read the rest of this entry

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