As my confidence in Neoforma increased, my situation at Varian continued to decay...
I had indeed been coordinating an eventual departure date with my boss, Evelyn. I couldn’t bear the daily ritual of watching the clock slowly spin each morning, waiting for the time I could go to Neo- forma for lunch.
Now that we had put in our promised year at Varian, both Jeff and I agreed that one of us needed to be at Neoforma full-time. There was so much to do.
Since I was engaged in most of the operational issues, it made sense that I should be the first to move. Neoforma did not have enough money to sustain me for long, but the sales were increasing. With our current growth we should easily be able to pay me a salary — that is, if Jeff and I both agreed to invest some of our own money. We estimated that about fifty grand each would do the job.
Neither of us had much money saved. We were both just beginning to invest in college funds for our kids. But we figured we could each just pull together about fifty thousand dollars for a short-term loan to the company. With our current revenue projections, we estimated that we would be able to pay ourselves back within six months. We would survive by holding off paying the balances on our personal credit cards. We had each run our cards up quite high, paying for company expenses.
Anni and I were able to come up with the money by leveraging the equity in our house. But we owned the house along with my father-in-law. He had helped us get into our house several years earlier by investing in it with us. Even though our first mortgage balance was very high and we only owned part of the house, there was just enough equity in our share to borrow eighty thousand. That would be enough money that we could invest the fifty thousand and use the balance to make the loan payments.
Since Neoforma was doing so well, this seemed to be a reasonable risk. We had to rush the loan through since I would never qualify after moving to Neoforma.
I had calculated a salary reduction that would put me at the absolute minimum salary I could take to allow Anni and me to pay our monthly bills. That way the impact on Neoforma would be minimized. Jeff agreed that when he soon joined Neoforma his salary would be the same. I felt safer, knowing someone else was willing to take the same risk.
So, while I was prepared to make the move to Neoforma I didn’t expect to be the last to know when.
It turns out that my boss had simply let a departure date slip out during a meeting. Clearly, she felt that I needed a boost to get over my hesitancy. This would not have been my preference, but it worked. I agreed to consult with Varian for a period of time to help transition my exit. Then I counted the minutes until my departure.
There was a small going-away gathering held for me in one of the conference rooms. The atmosphere was awkward. Nobody was quite sure if I was leaving on good terms or bad. When Ed, the president of the company, showed up, it made me feel good. I had been there for nearly ten years, working energetically to solve every challenge I faced, yet I felt that I was leaving hardly any impression behind. People come and people go.
I knew that wouldn’t be the case with Neoforma.