[PMC] NO DRAMA!

There’s a job I worked and then scrubbed from my resume as soon as I possibly could.

In retrospect, I’m incredibly happy I had the experience, and I was definitely right to never speak of it again (at least on my resume).

Incidentally, that makes me think that a pretty good metric for one’s confidence in their business is how long it’s been since they updated their resume. It looks like it’s been 2,748 days since I updated my resume.

Maybe we could standardize a metric. So maybe number of days since last resume update ÷ revenue from the worst year your business has had would be one fun version of this metric. The bigger the resulting number, the more confidence you clearly must have in your ability to thrive as a self-employed person.

Move over Body Mass Index (BMI), here comes the Self-Employment Confidence (SEC) metric! That acronym is taken already, though, isn’t it? OK, how about this one: the Self-Employment Optimism (SEO) metric! Oh wait…

Today is just not my day with acronyms.

Anyway, the job I scrubbed from my resume was the year I worked for the US Job Corps in Portland, OR.

“Never heard of Job Corps”, you say? I hadn’t neither, until I applied to that job.

Job Corps was a Kennedy administration idea that got accelerated and expanded by Johnson’s War on Poverty. It was a sort of version 2 of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but focused on vocational training for people aged 16 to 24.

The Job Corps facility I worked at in Portland mainly seemed to attract high school dropouts, and it was actually run by a corporation–called Management Training Corporation (MTC)–that also runs private prisons.

I find the idea of private prisons abhorrent, but I don’t actually know that much about how they actually work in reality–so I might be talking nonsense here–but when I contrast my negative view of private prisons with the marketing copy on MTC’s about page, my mind kind of explodes:

They frame their business as a social good enterprise and have a testimonial from a former prisoner on their about page! One of my personal lodestars is to try to assume the best about that which I have imperfect knowledge or incomplete context, and so I should be doing that here instead of letting my imagination run wild, but damn… a testimonial… from a former prisoner… about the company that ran the prison. I get how the Job Corps part of this company’s business is a social good; I’m not so sure about the private prison contractor. But I digress…

When I worked at that Job Corps facility, I was in way over my head. I still had outdated, unrealistic views of how poverty actually works, and many of those got updated and corrected through working with the students there, some of whom were homeless or living in poverty or had grown up in poverty. And I had like, zero experience managing a classroom full of kids, many of whom brought their personal or behavioral challenges from home into the classroom.

All my teaching experience had been with adult learners, who tend to be more intrinsically motivated learners and who tend to understand how to conduct themselves in a group learning setting (except for that one State of Tennessee employee who kept farting in class until a nearby person complained to me and I had to confront this dude about the farting, but I digress…).

So I developed a catchphrase. It was pretty ineffectual, but I’d keep repeating “no drama… no drama…” in an attempt to remind those few Job Corps students unfortunate enough to have me as their teacher that the workplace was not going to be welcoming of them importing their personal or behavioral challenges from home into it. I estimate my “no drama” catchphrase reduced the actual level of drama in my classroom by no more than 3%, which is a decent conversion rate for some things in online marketing but a terrible drama-reduction rate for a place of learning and growth.

So as you can imagine, when The Expertise Incubator (TEI) participant Stephen Kuenzli started his daily email list and named it No Drama Devops Daily, of course my mind was thrown right back to my time at the US Job Corps.

I think Stephen will be far more successful at removing the drama from DevOps than I was at reducing the drama in that Job Corps classroom.

If the topic is interesting to you, I’d suggest joining Stephen’s list. It’s quite good!

For example:


When you deploy distinct use cases into separate AWS accounts, you will accumulate AWS accounts quickly. Directors and VPs of the business units served by those accounts will thank you for their team’s increased autonomy. However, you’re likely to get frowns from the Finance folk if they receive 45 separate bill for AWS each month and spend a week figuring out which cost center each ties back to.


The above is from this article Stephen wrote, which got organically picked up by a few other high-profile AWS-focused publications. That’s one of the things that can happen when you start publishing really great content to an email list regularly. In fact, guiding principle #1 of TEI is: Anything you create in this program should be good enough to spread by word of mouth alone.

Stephen’s already doing that and seeing some word of mouth around his writing!

My email to you today is somewhere between organic word of mouth and “I’m super proud of what the folks in TEI are doing and I want to tell you about it and also use my platform to help these folks attract more list subscribers”.

So to that end, subscribe to Stephen’s list! It’s good stuff!

-P