This article was based on Episode # 21: Ben Nuttall’s Story, please watch the complete episode here!
“Nobody’s going home unless the website is finished.” — Ben Nuttal’s boss
When you’re ready to start a new chapter in your life and start looking for work, you mustn’t have a bad first job experience. Keep in mind that your first job shapes your entire outlook on the following stage of your life. If your first job was a dreadful experience, it would be most likely your definition of work.
However, if you’re like our today’s sharer, Ben Nuttall, and can look at a scenario from two perspectives, you might be able to avoid a poor first job experience. Nevertheless, it would be best if you were always cautious while selecting your first employment. Don’t ignore any warning signs, or you’ll end up like Ben, who had the worst job interview of his life. Despite that severe red flag, Ben continued to apply for the position, and his acceptance at that business marked the start of his client-horror story.
The story began when Ben was looking for his first job. Ben made a few calls, but fortunately for him, he received an email from Chris, who was said to be working in a huge company. Chris told Ben that they were looking for a web developer, and Ben was perfect for the job. Chris gave Ben an address and set a job interview in 4 days.
Ben got excited, and he prepared as much as he could. He didn’t want to ruin that interview because this was going to be his first job. The day of the interview came, and Ben was full-blown prepared for it. He got a full suit like the typical smart trousers, formal shoes, shirt and tie, the usual formal suit, to show professionalism. When Ben arrived at the office, he was nervous and a bit insecure about how he looked or whether he was arriving early or late.
As I’ve said, he really wanted to pass this job interview because he needed money for his bills and rent. When he arrived at the room he rang the bell, and a guy opened the door for him, but it wasn’t what Ben expected. The guy who opened the door was wearing beach shorts, scraggly too, and a pair of flip-flops. Ben was oddly confused and told the guy that he was there for an interview with a guy named Chris. The guy in his flip-flops replied that Chris wasn’t working in that company anymore.
Those were already 2 red flags, and this was the perfect alarm bell for Ben to back off. Now to avoid confusion, let’s name this guy in flip-flops, Bryan.
The first red flag that I was referring to was Bryan wearing informal clothing. Although it was somehow acceptable because he wasn’t expecting a meeting that day, seeing a guy in his office wearing beach attire is already a peak of their attitude and personality. The second red flag is when the person that Ben was talking to isn’t working there anymore. The things that Ben and Chris talked about don’t matter anymore because the person who was supposed to be Ben’s client isn’t working for the company anymore. Now, if Ben still pursued the job knowing these red flags, then trouble would be waiting for him on the other side.
But Ben wasn’t able to react the right way because it all happened pretty fast. At first, he was shocked by what greeted him when he opened the door. The next thing he knew was that the person who offered him the job wasn’t working there anymore. He was flustered and didn’t expect the things that happened next.
Right after that, Bryan welcomed Ben in and asked him what job offer Chris gave him. Ben replied that he wants to apply as a web developer of their company. Bryan then asked Ben to take a seat, turned to his computer, opened Chris’ email, and searched for Ben’s CV letter and resume. When Bryan saw Ben’s CV and resume, he just skimmed through the entire thing. This is again another red flag for Ben because skimming someone’s CV is like disrespecting their time and effort.
A CV and a resume are not something you take for granted because people spend their time and effort making it pleasant and formal. This is also one of the bases for employers when looking for candidates. Ben spent ages getting the typography of his CV and resume right, and that person just skimmed through it and was done reading everything after 10 seconds.
After Bryan scanned Ben’s CV, he then asked him if Ben could show him some websites that he had made before so that he could check. Ben gave him a bunch of URLs, and Bryan opened them each. Bryan flicked through every tab and scrolled as fast as he could until he opened all the URLs that Ben gave. Bryan didn’t even bother asking Ben about technical stuff and immediately offered Ben the job. Bryan asked Ben if he could come back to the office the next day for a trial to decide whether Ben was up for the task or not. Bryan added, “As long as you can do tomorrow then you can have a job.” Ben shouldn’t have accepted that offer, but he was too willing to take any job because he badly needed to pay his bills and rent.
So Friday came, and Ben did a full day’s work even if it was still his trial day. Ben did well, and Bryan, who hired him, was impressed and told him that he could have the job. Ben was thrilled and was excited to work, so he already had plans for his preparation during the weekend so that when Monday comes, he would be prepared and ready to work.
However, Bryan had other plans on his mind. After the trial day, Bryan approached Ben and asked him if he could start working tomorrow, which was Saturday. Ben was shocked again because Bryan wanted him to start working on a Saturday. Ben hesitated for a bit, but Ben said yes when he saw Bryan’s face getting half disappointed. Ben wasn’t busy on that Saturday, so he told Bryan that he could start working on Saturday.
1. Know the risk of working with a disrespectful client
Before Ben accepted the job, he knew that Bryan disrespected him in so many ways. However, despite the series of red flags, Ben took the risk and got the job. If this situation happens to you, you should expect that bad things are going to happen. In Ben’s story, making him work on a Saturday already is a taste of the negative effects of having a disrespectful client.
Ben also realized that Bryan would ask him to work on Saturdays until it became a habit. This would allow Bryan to get a free day of work without pay, and Ben would get used to it. Just like a taxi driver where they purposely go to longer routes just to get that extra meter on his router. Although it is not that big of a deal because the taxi driver is doing just a little bit of route extension, if he keeps on doing it to other passengers, he will surely have a lot of extra money from taking longer routes.
Ben’s assumptions were right because when he got the job, there were many times when Ben was asked to work on Saturdays, and he admitted that he got used to it.
Now let’s go back to Ben’s first day at work. Ben’s first day was going to be a busy one because he found out that Bryan had been building a web product on behalf of his boss. The problem was that Bryan overestimated himself and made promises he couldn’t make because he was a jack-of-all-trades. Bryan told his boss that the web product would be ready for a demo and launched on this date, but he still didn’t have a web developer when he made that promise. Now that Ben accepted the job, Bryan will pass the burden to Ben and let him handle the pressure.
2. Being a jack of all trades is dangerous
People are often amazed at someone who knows a lot of things. Girls love guys who know how to play the guitar and also know how to play football. But in business, you should avoid working with a jack of all trades. Those people who brag that they know a lot of things but are masters of none are dangerous.
Bryan told his boss that he knew how to develop a website, and his boss might have believed him because of the terms that he used or the simple demo that Bryan showed. Bryan’s boss trusted him and gave him the work, but little did he know that the task was more complex than he thought. Now, Ben will fix this problem with time as his enemy because of the incompetence of Bryan.
Ben had no other choice but to continue Bryan’s work. Ben was frustrated because Bryan used an e‑commerce framework, which was not appropriate for developing a web product. Maybe Bryan did an e‑commerce framework before, and this is what he told his boss to gain his trust. He did the e‑commerce framework again for his next task, hoping it would still work, but it didn’t. Bryan told Ben that they had to finish the task as fast as they could.
The website was like a unity game that people could play on the website, but rather than just games that you can play for free of your own will, you will have to pay credits to play the game and win prizes. The website still needs a recording program that would record the scores of each player to receive the prices. So there must be a log-in setup where players could visit their account anytime and upgrade their account to earn more money and prices.
Now imagine using an e‑commerce framework to develop this game. Can you imagine how messy it would look? Now Ben had to fix everything first then start developing the web product, which was a lot of work. Ben also had no idea where to begin, so Bryan called his game developer to help Ben finish the website. Ben and the game developer were both newbies, but the game developer was extremely skillful, so their work was going smoothly.
Ben made a lot of progress, and just when things started to go on his way, Bryan again showed his disrespectful manner. Bryan barged into the room and told both of them that nobody was going home until they finished the website. Ben’s first day on the job was already horrible because despite having to work under pressure, he was forced to work overtime.
3. Don’t work with someone who treats people like a robot
People who treat their workers like robots lack respect. That means that they don’t care about anyone’s welfare for as long as they receive money. Ben must have expected this to happen because right from the beginning, Bryan disrespected him already. People who don’t respect personal boundaries are bad news. These people don’t care about anyone but themselves and how to raise money, so be careful around them.
Going back to the story, Ben and the game developer finally satisfied Bryan and finished the job. They went home at 9 PM, and that was a hell of a first day for Ben.
If we elaborate on the huge red flag more, you can clearly see that Bryan doesn’t care for his workers. He could have said it nicely and asked Ben and the game developer to extend for at least 2 hours and work on the website. That could have been more respectful than saying, “Nobody’s going home unless the website is finished.” What if the website wasn’t done, and it was already past midnight? Would he still expect Ben and the game developer not to go home and finish the website?
That proves that Bryan doesn’t care for them, and he also had no idea how to fix the website. Bryan was just relying everything on both of them, and he did that by forcing them to work for hours. Lucky for him, Ben and the game developer finished the work before 9 PM.
Remember earlier when I said that your first job experience is what will set your perspective of work? Well, Ben’s definition of work is truly horrifying because of Bryan’s series of red flags. However, Ben could have easily walked away after that experience and left. But again, he was too fixated on earning money because he had just finished university and needed a starting salary for his adulthood. What was important for Ben during those moments was that he would get paid, and he was already happy about it.
Going back to the story, Ben and the game developer successfully developed the website, and Bryan contacted people to spend their money on Facebook ads.
Before we continue, here is a bit of background about Bryan’s company. Bryan’s company is actually a property development company. The company has a lot of properties and what they do is earn money through renting. The company also buys and sells refurbished properties, which is their main agenda. 2011 was a big year for Apple because iPhones and iPhone apps were a big deal during those years.
Because of this, the director of the company wants to have a team on the sidelines making side profits through creating and developing iPhone apps. The director had a straightforward goal which was to earn millions through the apps that the team created. Bryan was already working at that company before apps started to boom. And knowing that he is a jack of all trades, the director made him in charge of creating the team. The director gave Bryan a budget and told him to hire some app developers. That was the reason why Bryan and the team of app developers were all newbies. Ben and his team only had a small office with concrete floors and walls.
After Ben’s first task, the following days went well for him. They were given a series of tasks, and it seemed like Ben enjoyed creating apps. There was this one task where Ben developed a game, and all he got before developing that game was a bunch of graphical assets full of farmyard animals. Bryan wanted Ben to continue what his team started, but there was really nothing to continue because the website only had graphic design assets lying around. So, Ben used these farmyard animals as the theme for the website and developed a game out of it. Ben did the game without any help from a veteran, and he did things his own way, so there was a good side in his client-horror story.
4. Bad experiences create character development.
Ben’s experience working in that company taught him a lot of valuable lessons. Like that experience that he had when he could develop a game in his own way without an expert’s help. This wasn’t even his fault because as much as he needed help, there was no veteran on Bryan’s team. This is because Bryan is targeting fresh graduates from universities who are okay with receiving cheap salaries. Bryan was maybe taking some money, or he was just too lazy to look for people with talents.
His attitude from the first interview might be his attitude to all members of his small team of web developers because if he were looking for veterans, he wouldn’t have taken an interview with informal clothing. However, Ben still looked at the brighter side instead of seeing things negatively and enjoyed his time creating games. As a matter of fact, the game he invented made up of farmyard animals was quite cool, and Ben said that he had fun while making it.
But when you thought things were starting to go in the right direction, another obstacle came to Ben. Bryan wasn’t the only monster in Ben’s client-horror story. Ben was introduced to the guy that owned the property company. This guy was still young and quite a petite guy, as Ben described. The guy always had his driver with him, and he always brags his Maserati car around the company. There were some weird moments where the guy would turn on his Maserati car and do laps around the parking lot so that everybody could hear his car.
Ben also noticed the guy’s attitude towards people who annoys him or wants to get rid of someone. Instead of firing them like a typical boss, the guy would invite the person into his office and say bad stuff until the person voluntarily quits the company. The guy would insult the person’s work, mention personal issues, and say other inappropriate things until the person leaves. This became worse for Ben because he realized that the guy was the main boss of Bryan’s company. So if Ben had issues with Bryan, Bryan would just tell Ben to talk to the boss. But who wants to talk to an arrogant and prideful boss?
5. A Boss is supposed to be approachable and kind
If you have an arrogant and prideful boss, there are only two outcomes of your career. You would either endure the suffering of not voicing out or you would voluntarily quit your job. This is why you also have to consider your boss’s attitude before planning on applying for a job. There’s also this problem in Bryan’s company where the boss (the small guy) would allow sons or daughters of his friends to work on the company even if they have no working experience. So there would be a tendency where the leader of Ben’s project is a 19-year old son of the small guy’s friend.
So as you can see, Ben’s first work experience is going from bad to worst. And now, the company’s boss was essentially getting rid of people and firing everyone that pissed him off. He was also barking many orders to Ben and his team until it got to the point where he was giving impossible tasks.
The guy asked Ben and his team to restructure how they sold tickets on these certain games, and he wanted them to develop the game where he could raffle off a thousand tickets and many more stressful tasks. After they complete the ticket tasks, Ben won’t have to monitor the game anymore because it can run on itself now. So Bryan told the members of his team, including Ben, to focus on making apps. Bryan told them to form three groups that consisted of two developers and one designer. The team should be able to create two apps per day, one app for each developer, and the designer will design both apps before the 2nd day ends.
This time, Ben really reacted to the huge red flag, not just because of the crazy unrealistic expectation but also because of the intense work rhythm designed to burn people out. This intense work rhythm is primarily because of Bryan’s lack of knowledge and experience. He’s got no experience in the IT industry, doesn’t know the app market, doesn’t know how to manage developers, and doesn’t know how developers work. Ben made this conclusion because he knows that those who are not in the tech industry always undervalue creativity, effort, sacrifice, and the time of the developers in his team.
Because of that impossible task, Ben and his team didn’t produce good apps. If you are in the tech industry, you were already expecting the developers to fail right after you heard that they were given an unreasonable deadline. When people treat their workers like robots, they must not expect good results from them. Working like a robot could burn out your entire body and would force you to quit sooner.
Ben had enough of the maltreatment and finally decided to quit. The good thing about this story was that the company had no problem concerning the salary, even though the majority were fresh graduates from universities. So, Ben only survived about a week doing that insane work routine. Ben waited for the month to end to receive his final pay and left for good. Ben told Bryan that he didn’t want to work for the company anymore, and he was really not into app development.
Ben had no trouble leaving because the boss who shouted inappropriately to people wasn’t there. But even though Ben’s experience was not that great, he still learned from his experience. He learned a lot and discovered things on his own, he built websites using his own tools and stuff, and most importantly, he had fun while working with the company.
That was the end of Ben’s client-horror story. Ben really used that horrible experience well because he learned many things and developed to become a more confident and knowledgeable web developer. On Ben’s next job, he really appreciated all the seniors and veterans he had worked with because he knew the feeling of having no one to rely on. He listened to each piece of advice, which was why he became a dependable web developer.
I hope you had fun while reading Ben’s client-horror story jump packed with lessons and red flags. Make sure to take note of every lesson and avoid all the red flags, or you will become the next sharer of their client-horror story.
This article was based on Episode # 21: Ben Nuttall’s Story, please watch the complete episode here!