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Insanity is sometimes effective

Perhaps you’ve heard a phrase that goes like this: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.” Actually, I’m sure that you’ve heard the phrase, because it has been repeated an insane number of times.

This phrase occurred to me as I completed two job applications this afternoon. One was addressed to a company to which I had already applied, and a second was addressed to another company to which I had already applied TWICE.

Because my experience spans multiple disciplines, this can easily happen. I find myself interested in a company, see a listed position, and think, “Oh, I’ve done that.” Then the company lists another position, and I think, “Oh, I’ve done that too.”

(This varied experience has its drawbacks. Once a former boss told me, “I can’t believe that they took you out of product management and put you back in proposals.” A few years later when I moved into marketing, other people asked me, “What? You’re not in proposals any more?”)

Despite the breadth of my experience, and despite the stovepipe way in which human resources organizations sometimes operate, the idea of applying to a company multiple times initially struck me as odd.

Until I remembered a previous job that took me a couple of tries to get.

Back in 1994, I was working some temporary consulting jobs when I found out about a temporary proposal writing opportunity in Anaheim, California. I had never written proposals before – a rudimentary RFP, yes, but never a proposal response. But my name was under consideration for the position, so I got out my printed Thomas Brothers guide (it was 1994, after all) and started driving to 1250 North Tustin Avenue in Anaheim. This involved getting on the 91 freeway, taking the Tustin Avenue exit, and heading SOUTH until I got to 1250 North Tustin Street.

In the city of Orange.

(This picture is not from a Thomas Brothers Guide.)

Luckily I was way early for the interview, so I turned back NORTH and got to 1250 North Tustin Avenue in the proper city in time for my interview.

Sadly I don’t remember anything about the interview, other than the fact that I DIDN’T get the job.

But a little while later, the company decided that it needed a second temporary proposal writer, and I got the job that time.

As a few of you already realized when you saw the (correct) company address, that job was with Printrak, which was purchased by Motorola, and then subsequently purchased by Safran, and finally purchased by IDEMIA.

The person who was selected in the first round was eventually hired full-time, and stayed with Printrak and its successor companies for 20 years. The person hired in the second round (me) was also eventually hired, and stayed with the company for 25 years. (Not always at odd triangle-shaped building at 1250 North Tustin; we spent a little bit of time by the freeway at 9 Technology Drive in Irvine, and ended up in a more modern building at 5515 East LaPalma in Anaheim.)

But it took me a couple of tries to break into Printrak.

Luckily for me, I was insane enough to try to get into the company a second time.


2 thoughts on “Insanity is sometimes effective

  1. Nice share, John!
    Often it looks insane to keep knocking on the same door, but that is one way to stay on top of the mind of the decision-maker, hiding behind that door, not realizing what they have been missing out until they opened it.


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