Wishful Thinking

I've made a few mistakes in my time. I bought a 38-inch refrigerator for a 36-inch space. I washed a whole load of whites, including the open bag of M&M's I'd left in my tennis shorts.

But when it comes to IT, I'm really in a slump. Over the past two to three years, I've blown it. I've dropped the ball. I've missed the boat a few times… and probably sunk the boat a few times more.

If I could rewind the clock about 24 months, I'd be a gazillionaire. My career would be in the fast lane, my technical skills in demand. I'd be two steps ahead of the NASDAQ, working in the corner office, and probably wouldn't have told my boss to sell short on Qualcomm in 1998 because wireless was "just a fad."

I'm supposed to know about high-tech, yet somehow I've screwed up. If I could do it over again, I wish I'd been a lot smarter about:

Maybe I shouldn't have insisted we drop a couple hundred million on that millennium thing. We probably had to do something, but couldn't we have just handled it over a three-day weekend? I'm pretty sure the CFO thinks I over-reacted, especially when I sandbagged the entrance to the building on December 31st.

I know we should be on the Internet. I know we should join e-marketplaces and trading exchanges. The ROI is stupendous. The savings abound. But how do you take an organization that's used to phone and fax and take them headlong into the e-procurement age? We had a tough enough time with Mrs. Murphy in Accounting, who once got her skirt caught in the fax machine and wouldn't touch anything with a power cord for six months.

Job Hopping
I probably should have stayed put. I had a nice, boring job with a nice, boring company. But I wanted to cash in on this dotcom thing, so I changed jobs. And changed jobs. And changed jobs. Never got the stock options. Never hit it big. Today my career is a mess, my employment history is all over the map, and I don't think anyone can hire me… primarily because it now takes about 45 minutes just to download my resume.

I wish I'd taken all this firewall stuff seriously. Our corporate site was hacked the first week. Our company servers were bitten by the Love Bug. Last year I was personally decimated by some virus from parts unknown which wiped out everything—my files, my entire hard drive—and probably would have destroyed all my backups if I had ever made any.

The craze seemed red hot, especially last Christmas. So maybe I got a little carried away. Maybe I shouldn't have over-invested in all those Web retail stocks, including sticking my entire 401K into the "Brand New, Little Known Emerging Tech Companies that Start with an e-" Fund.

I wish I'd taken more time evaluating our processing requirements. But I was in a hurry. I learned the hard way that analyzing capacity, transaction volumes and growth should be a long, slow process. Because now, every time anyone hits the enter key, it’s definitely a long, slow process.

Mike Cohn lives in Atlanta, where he is desperately trying to make up for years of lost income the only way he knows how: the lottery.