When we left for Canada, I received some good advice from a coworker about how Nike handles International Assignments. He explained that because it is considered an investment for Nike to send someone on assignment, they have a robust process of evaluating transferees at 12 months, with three possible outcomes:
- You suck: If, after 12 months, you are not successfully achieving the goals for your position, they would immediately pull you back to the US and stick you in whatever job was available, and it probably wouldn’t be one you would want.
- You Rock! If you were doing well, then they would put a star by your name and talk about a good move that you would like and try to make it happen sometime in the next 12 months or so.
- Meh: If you don’t suck, but you aren’t a rockstar either, then you just kind of ride out your assignment’s full three years and at the end, nobody remembers who you are, and they don’t know what to do with you.
This context was in my mind in December when I got an “off the record” warning from a coworker that my name had been tossed around in regards to some jobs in North America DTC, and that I might get a call from my U.S. based boss about them. (Remember, I had had an amazing first 7 months, followed by an “upgrade” to the distribution center that crippled our business for several months. I also had a new U.S. boss who didn’t really know me.) Betsy and I spent a week or so trying to wrap our minds around the idea that circumstance was against us and I might be yanked and demoted to a lame job. There were even two absolutely terrible jobs open that I knew I would hate but fit the bill perfectly if you were punishing a failure.
After not sleeping for a week, I got a call from my U.S. boss, who was clearly out of breath running between two of buildings on campus. “Hey…your name…has come up…in relation to…some jobs…in Japan.” Pant, pant, “If you…aren’t willing to go to Japan…tell me now…so I can tell them…not to call you.” Pant, pant.
Well, that sure put a whole new paint job on things. I didn’t know what jobs were available in Japan, but shoot, it was JAPAN. Of course I was willing to talk to them.
Fun video interview process later and I was on a plane to find us a house. Betsy was welcomed but declined the invitation to go on the house-hunting trip, so I went on my own. I called her the first night to say, we’re in trouble. These places all pretty much suck. I think that is a ploy used by our agent to ensure we agree on day two, because after spending 12 hours looking at places I wouldn’t wish on my worst sister-in-law, when I saw one that didn’t smell like smoke, fish, or have walls that are literally made of paper, I screamed, “I’ll take it!” and we were done.
Luckily, our house is big enough for everyone. I’m betting Betsy will write more about it later. We got to fly to Tokyo in Business Class, which is a treat that I don’t think you can really appreciate until you try it. Sure, you might think it’d be nice to have a little more leg room, or perhaps you’d like some real food, or a stewardess that actually tries to help instead of being irritated that you breathe, but until you try it, you’ll never understand just how amazing it feels to pretend to be rich. It’s no wonder the rich are snobs–it truly is a different world.
We arrived pretty late and went straight to the hotel, where we stayed on the 50th floor and had a great view of Tokyo. We went to church all dressed up in the amazing Church clothes that Alex and Marina had given us. Church has been great, although we found out how much it’s like college when the summer hit and suddenly, we were freshmen and all the seniors we’d started to befriend left town forever because their assignments were over.
As we got settled in, there were a number of things that turned out to be harder than we were used to, among them, getting the house stocked with everything we would need. While I went to work, Betsy walked the mile or so to the grocery, with a duffel or a back-pack so she could load it back up and then walk back home. There were a number of texts designed to make me feel like a terrible husband for dragging my poor wife across the world and making her carry 50-lb bags of food and cleaning supplies up hills in foreign countries.