Anniversary Memories

This past Tuesday, my wife and I celebrated our 30th Anniversary with a getaway to Minnesota’s scenic North Shore on Lake Superior.

Over dinner on the deck of a lakefront restaurant, we were sharing memories of our wedding rehearsal, ceremony, and reception. They are all distant memories now, but many stick with you from the time they happen.

I recalled my Dad’s reaction to the snazzy 1990 Cadillac Sedan de Ville I was driving on our wedding weekend, for instance. As a wedding gift, my brother & his wife graciously paid for us to have the luxe wheels from a rental car company.

With both of us admiring the car in the parking lot of the restaurant we held our rehearsal dinner at, my Dad said “work hard for MegaCorp, and they will buy you a car like this.”

That was an exciting prize to imagine at the moment and the challenge stuck with me. Anything seemed possible when you are in your early 20s and executives at MegaCorp did in fact drive cars like that Cadillac. It was good encouragement for me at that point in my life.

Flash forward almost 20 years later and I was actually picking out my first company-paid executive vehicle to go with my new VP and Officer title at MegaCorp. My Dad’s pre-wedding counsel had proven quite prescient and they had delivered!

Cadillacs were no longer as fashionable at that time, so I took delivery of an Acura MDX and later a BMW X5. They gassed, maintained, and washed the vehicle 2x a week for me in the executive garage. I still drive a X5 – and although I paid for my latest one with my own money in early retirement – it still feels like MegaCorp paid for it.

In addition to sophisticated wheels, MegaCorp largesse included a lot of perks and amazing experiences that made me feel generously rewarded.

I’ve always said that one of the best parts of my MegaCorp career was feeling a part of something much bigger than yourself. I don’t miss the work, but I look back with great fondness at the special opportunities I was afforded.

There is no real replacement for that in early retirement, but I have no regrets to have walked away from MegaCorp more than a decade early. Instead, I’m thankful to be well-enough off that I can now afford to create my own rewards & experiences – on my own terms.

What non-cash perks or rewards motivated you during your career?

11 thoughts on “Anniversary Memories

  1. In my last mega corp job, my position was in R&D and we had semi annual research meetings with presentations and poster sessions. In one of my last poster sessions, as I was setting up my last minute entry, I was asked by a person viewing the poster whether I would “take the trip” if I won the competition. I simply replied that I had no idea what he was talking about.

    As it turned out the trip was an all expenses paid week in India visiting a technical center, and I was one of a group of 5 to get sent on the trip. For what its worth, I was told that mine was the top scoring poster in the competition. In addition to visiting our mega corp tech center, they gifted us day trips to see sights around Dehli and down to Agra. It was a memorable week.

    All together, the 7 day trip was a great experience. When I filed my expense report, the direct costs with business class flight and first rate accommodations at the Leela Palace Dehli was slightly over $12000 for the week. The next year I was asked to sit on the planning commission for the poster session and I was asked whether I would go again if I won. I told the group that if it were available I would prefer a cash-out option.

    These competitions are often considered launching pads for researchers, and the other 4 of the contest winners were quickly promoted and moved on to far greater things (I had also given a session keynote presentation during one of the summer sessions). I was unfortunately working for a terrible manager, who only resented my successes, and I didn’t even receive a pay increase that year. When I brought up the poster competition during my annual review, I was told that I had not included winning the poster competition on my work plan for the year. End of conversation.

    I eventually got another manager in a re-organization, but did not stay with mega corp much longer.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Wow – A $12K first-class trip to India sounds fantastic. Especially as a reward for a big professional success. Your manager’s reaction is awfully odd. I realized at some point in my career that some of the ‘big things’ you do will go relatively unnoticed and some of the ‘small things’ will be celebrated more than they should. It’s a dubious coin flip most of the time!

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  2. Working in the public sector we are not even allowed to accept a cup of coffee from a vendor without the threat of having a conflict of interest. The rewards we get might be a piece of cake for public service week or a printed out certificate of appreciation. When I worked for a small government agency we did have better team building events (talent shows with big Christmas parties all self funded by employees) after moving to a bigger government department the team building and perks have been non-existant. The real rewards in my career have been serving the people and working on some really big projects and with some cool state of the art technology. Travel for work does sounds like a perk, however being in IT my work trips have no scheduled down time. I am normally only see the inside of a data centre during my work trips.

    I think your statement “create my own rewards & experiences – on my own terms” is a key for enjoyment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – public versus private sector is quite a bit different, isn’t it? If at all possible, I used to try to tack a vacation day into business trips. Not possible many times due to work & family schedules, but I never regretted when I did it.

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      1. It is a great idea to turn a business vacation into a real vacation by adding a vacation day or more into end of a business trip. Unfortunately it is another one of those things not easy to do in the public sector in my experience. Travel is one of the more audited things in government and even though I would be paying for the extra night(s) hotel stay and meals they(management) would not like the audit trail of a return plane ticket day(s) later than my official travel status… Also they book everything for you and changing things like a return date throws everything off. I found it best to keep work and vacation separate even if it would be more practical and economical to do it the way you suggest. A common theme in government is “Follow the rules even if it might be more economical or practical to stretch them”

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      2. Too bad that the bureaucracy and ‘optics’ get in the way. The closer you are to government, the less freedom people actually have! 🙂

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  3. Definitely the stock options. The cars were nice, but I’ve never really been motivated by cars. Obtaining shares of a growing company was definitely the most motivating perk for me. I do miss flying corporate too. I hate big commercial airports to this day. I’m not a big crowd person, so it was really nice to just drive up, walk right on to a private corporate jet and take off. No hassles, no luggage waits, and no sprints for the next connection.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes – I had the great pleasure to fly on MegaCorp jets quite a bit. That was the most irreplaceable perk for sure!

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  4. While I retired from government, I did have perks in my three employer career. First job company car which allowed me to jump start savings as I didn’t need to buy my own. Second job took me to London on three occasions which was wonderful. I used a law firm in the late 80’s early 90’s and they had senate seats at the Los Angeles Forum, primarily for the Lakers. I am a hockey fan and I could get the seats almost whenever I wanted them. For hockey they were three rows off the ice ten feet inside the blue line right behind Sylvester Stallone. The seats included entry into the Forum Club. This was in the Gretzky era and I would always see a lot of Hollywood types including President Reagen.
    My government job had my flying to San Francisco and Sacramento almost monthly and it was always fun.
    I also shared an elevator on occasion with the singing cowboy when I had to go to the stadium, but he sold the Angels to Disney and my employer leased the stadium as part of that deal in 1996, rather his widow Jackie sold the team.
    I also saw the Stanley Cup when the Ducks won it and I was in a center ice suite when my alma mater Maine won the NCAA hockey championship
    Not bad for government perks

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    1. Cool! Those definitely ARE more perks than I would expect you’d get in a government job. Cool to also hear that Reagan was a hockey fan after his Presidency. Those Gretzky days at the Forum had to be great for people watching!

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