What Do You Do When The Least Expected Thing Happens?


This is the background to a story I recently wrote, which was called, “Today I Blasted Myself Out of the Comfort Zone“. In this story, I explain how unexpected events unfolded to cause me to leave my comfort zone by moving west to a new state to start life in an unfamiliar place.


It was 2 am when the job description appeared before my eyes as I was perusing my email from the day. I think it came in the form of a daily “Simply Hired” listing of targeted jobs that had keywords like “Tableau” or “hydrogeologist” included. Most of the time I didn’t even read these emails because I really liked the job I already had. In fact, I was not even thinking about a new job at the time of seeing this particular ad. This ad simply appeared and captured my attention.

The Story As I Remember It

I had just finished writing a blog post and was getting ready to hit the sack. After all, it was 2 am and I had to be up in 5 hours to go to work. After I read the job description, I sort of shook my head from side to side as I got a chill down my spine. I realized that I had to read the job description again.

I distinctly remember looking over my shoulder to see my wife lying in bed watching TV. I spun in the chair and said to her that I had just read a job description that I was perfectly suited to fill. It was so interesting to me, in fact, that I felt compelled to complete the online application even though I knew that blind resume submissions typically lead nowhere.

She asked me where the job was located and I told her that multiple locations were listed for the position. At the time, I was not sure where the job would be. Since we liked some of the locations, we figured it would be ok to learn more about the opportunity. I asked her if it was ok for me to complete the application and she said, “Sure, go for it.”

I distinctly remember telling my wife that although I was going to apply, I had zero expectations that I would hear from the company. I told her that although this job ad was written for someone like me, it was probably written for someone that already existed at the company. Since I knew nobody at that company, the likelihood of me being selected for that job was essentially zero. I really believed that.

Well, I was right, at least for the next few months. I heard absolutely nothing from that company. I’m fact, I even forgot about completing that job application. It was long gone from my memory as I continued working on my skills and learning new techniques in Alteryx and Tableau.

Taking a Time-out To Rewind the Clock

Now I have to take a time-out to rewind the clock back to early 2011 to share a story with you. This was in January 2011 and was the time when my wife delighted me with the news that we were going to have a baby later that year.

Over the next few months we discussed many things related to our family. We were trying to comprehend the ramifications of our decision to start over as parents. We knew that this new child was going to alter our future in more ways than we could comprehend but we were really excited at the changes that were sure to come.

One of the things we had to decide was how to tell our other kids, Sarah (then 17) and Colton (15) (Figure 1), that we were going to be adding another child to the family.


Figure 1 – Sarah and Colton

When the time came to tell them, we were sitting at a table having dinner at a Chili’s restaurant. When Toni said the magic words, Colton asked which country the child was coming from since we had previously discussed the idea of adopting an African or Chinese baby.

Toni replied with something like “The baby will come from closer to home, like in the United States.”

When Toni explained that she was pregnant, Sarah began crying and Colton went into silent mode. These were not exactly the responses that we had hoped for when delivering the happy news.

I still remember the perplexed and disappointed look that flushed across Colton’s face when he realized what Toni had just said. We unintentionally shocked the kids in a deep, emotional way and Toni and I both felt bad about it.

Sometime between those early discussions about the new baby and his first couple years of life, Toni and I decided to raise our new son Jett (Figure 3) in a place other than Knoxville. I cannot really explain why we made that choice, but we knew we wanted a different upbringing for Jett and we knew that we had about five years to find a new location to live.


Figure 2 – Jett at 3 yrs old.

Over the past 4 years as time was ticking bye and both kids finished high school and entered college, we began feeling the need to find a new place to live. We felt compelled to move west because all of us love the western US. As I began thinking about a new job, we all agreed that the Western US would be the place where all of us would be happy.

By mid-2014, a few companies unexpectedly called me to inquire about my interest in working for them. Since a couple of them they were on the west coast, my interest started to rise in regard to a move out west. We decided our specific relocation targets would include California and Colorado.

Now Getting Back To The Story

I think it was early in the week when an unfamiliar Illinois phone number appeared on my phone. Since my family is mostly located in Illinois, I expected the voice to be someone familiar. Instead, what I heard was an unfamiliar, Chicago-based female voice that immediately caught my attention. The conversation went something like this:

She said, “Is this Ken Black?”

I said, “Yes, it is.”

She said, “This is blank blank and I found your resume this weekend. I think, or rather I know, that you are the right guy to fill this job I have. Are you interested in hearing about it?”

Even now, I still can’t believe that I received that phone call. I wondered if this was going to be another “phone call of a lifetime”, like the one I received from Microsoft in 1988. How did she “find” my resume and how did she know that I was the right guy for the job, I wondered?

To Be Continued

3 thoughts on “What Do You Do When The Least Expected Thing Happens?

  1. “To be continued”, like a TV mini series. Can’t wait to read the next one and am glad you found a new place to raise your son.

  2. Pingback: Four Months of Living Outside of My Comfort Zone (Part 3) | 3danim8's Blog

  3. Pingback: My General Motors Story | 3danim8's Blog

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