Job satisfaction matrix

I overthink most big problems in life.  I’ve learned to live with it, and shut it down when I absolutely need to, but one of the only upsides of being an “overthinker” is that sometimes with the extra thinking comes clarity.  Ideas reduce, until you’ve come to the essence of what you’re contemplating.  This job satisfaction list is the results of overthinking job related items over the course of many years.  It’s been said that money isn’t everything when talking about a job, and it’s true. For example, a good boss can make a lower paying job worth staying at, and a bad boss (or company) can make a higher paying job a nightmare.

These factors are grouped into what I have seen as four main categories.  When evaluating your job, each category will always have some in the positive, and some in the negative, possibly most in neutral value.  You’re lucky if you have a job that has all of these factors in the positive, but that’s probably impossible.  We’re humans, we live with other humans, and there’s always things out of our control.  Any time I’ve been at the point of jumping from a job to a new one, I’ve looked at the matrix to see where I stood.  You should never jump if only one of these factors is off.  You should jump if quite a few of them are.  I would also suggest checking this matrix if you get a counter offer.  If more money is offered, but other factors that led you to leave are not fixed, it will only be a matter of time before they creep in around the buzz in your head that the more money created.

I hope this is useful to you.

  •  People
    • Do I like my boss?
    • Does he value what I do?
    • Does he grow me?
    • Do I like my coworkers?  If not, can I get along with them?
    • Do I trust my boss?
    • Do I trust his chain of management above him?
    • Do I like the culture of my company?  Or my division, or team?
    • Can I affect change in my team, or with my boss, or with the culture?
  • Company
    • Values
    • Culture
      • Do they value my time off?
      • Do they overwork people?
    • Vision
    • Resources – do they have enough funding?  Are they selling well enough?
    • Potential – How does their market look?  Do they have the potential to hit it?
  • Work
    • Do I have autonomy?
    • Do I like what I’m doing?
    • Do I grow from my situation?
    • Work style (agile?  Waterfall?)
    • Is my work valued?
    • Can I change my work situation if things aren’t working out?
    • Am I challenged?
    • Can I master my skills?
    • Am I overworked?
  • Compensation
    • Pay – needs to be enough to cover bills + saving
    • 401k matching
    • Vacation
    • Pay raise
    • Insurance
      • Employee % paid for by employer
      • Family % paid for
      • Plans available, deductibles,
      • Likelihood that you’ll have an increase in premiums
    • Bonuses
      • Yearly? Quarterly?  Both?
      • Tied to anything like how the company is doing, or your performance?
    • Stock or equity incentives
      • What is the vesting schedule?
        • Is it reasonable?
        • Are there likely changes coming (like the company being bought) that might change this schedule?
      • RSUs – if public:
        • What is the amount given, how much will that likely be worth over the vesting schedule?
        • Will any more be given or is it just the amount from the signing?
      • Options – if not public
        • What is the dilution of these options?
        • What is the likelihood of these options  being worth anything?
      • Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) if public
        • Percentage discount guaranteed?  Some had none, others have somewhere around 15%.
      • Profit sharing if private

And so it begins…

My CNC journey is a great example of how small projects avalanche into larger ones.  There I was, at a well known hobby store with my wife on the day before Christmas Eve, looking at the clearance items.  I happened across a piece of artwork that was unique in that it was a cutout piece that stood off of the wall for depth.  There was no question what I’d do with it: backlight it with LEDs!  The day after Christmas, I decided to use some of my gift money to buy it, heck, it was 50% off so why not?


It only took until April to actually wire up the LEDs.   I had some WS2801 LEDs on the polyimide tape strip that I bought to light up another project as well as some code to drive them.  I cut ten LEDs off of the strip and wired them up behind the openings on the tree.

IMG_20140415_220805463 IMG_20140415_220819483 IMG_20140415_220911154 IMG_20140415_220953240

When I was done, it looked awesome.  I decided to hang it in my dining room, and we turn it on whenever I have guests.  But the response I got from family and friends was very positive, enough so to get me thinking… maybe I could do these as art, and possibly have a sideline business that would put money BACK into my lab rather than it being a black hole…

Here’s a youtube video showing it in action:

I started looking into what it would take to cut such pieces. I had assumed it was laser cut, but after talking to a lady that owns a laser cutter business in this area, she mentioned that MDF would be horrible to attempt, as it’s full of glue and doesn’t burn well.  That’s when one of my good friends mentioned that if I looked closely, it looked more CNC routed than laser cut.  And he was right, you could see that it didn’t have sharp edges, only rounded ones where they used a 1/8″ cutter.  This was within reach!  This was do-able.  A laser cutter that could cut a 20″x30″ area would be way too expensive, and wouldn’t be right for cutting MDF.  However, a CNC machine to do so would be affordable, and could do it without the burning problems that the laser has.

I decided that I needed to test out cutting by hand, just to see if I could do it without spending the money on a CNC machine.  While the rotozip worked, it didn’t really want to be precise.  Nor did it forgive me for any wavering, as it would catch and drag the zip bit through the MDF and ruin a track.  You can see it has rough edges everywhere.


There was one other catch to doing this by hand:  as I was sketching out the shuttle, I realized that I had already drawn it too big for the board I was using, which could easily be handled if it was digital and I was scaling it.  Chalk up another reason to go with a CNC.

With that last question answered, a whole new series opened up.  How do I get a CNC machine big enough to carve 20″x30″ pieces?