Leaving the Fool

A week ago Friday, I bid farewell to The Motley Fool, my programmer home for the past three years.
Three years. Wow. When I wrote that blog post, I wrote something vague because I had no idea what I’d be doing:

I’ll be working on the software that powers some of the Motley Fool’s online offerings. I get to play with ASP.NET MVC, C#, and work with a whole bunch of smart and passionate software developers.

Three years laters, that list is a lot less…
vague.
One question recruiters asked me when I started looking for a new home was, “Why are you looking to leave the Fool?” To which I’d mentally link them to my blog post about ‘leaving’ a great job, but out loud would say the stuff that you don’t really understand until you have one of those midnight realizations:

Programming is about solving problems. It’s about sharing those solutions with other people, and making the lives of people you’ve never met better through that interaction.

That’s what’s important about programming. It’s not about environment, company culture, free food, or unlimited vacation. Those are important, but they’re not vital. It’s about making an impact, and seeing that impact.
The Fool was my first ‘non-product’ company. In every other professional setting as a Software Developer, I’d always been part of a product company — a company that sold the software I wrote. I had always underestimated the effect of being behind a product until I was in a services company like the Fool.
A major difference between a product company and a services company is that you directly impact the bottom line at a product company. With every feature (or every improvement), you can see a direct impact on sales. At a services company, it’s a little nebulous, and at a company that really is established in their practices, they can pull a lot of levers to generate sales that have nothing to do with programmers’ work.
Ultimately, any other issue aside, that’s what made me realize I needed to look for a change. I needed to be useful and necessary to the business.
I enjoyed my time at the Fool, and they deserve the “Best place to work” award from Glassdoor.
No matter what, I will always be a Fool.
(Author’s Note: I meant for this to go out a week ago, but I kept re-writing it.)

6 thoughts on “Leaving the Fool”

  1. After 15 years doing dev it’s clear to me that the most challenging, exciting and fulfilling part of coding is the initial problem solving and creation. Maintaining something already built lacks creativity and is quite dull.
    Steve Jobs framed it nicely with his talk about death: “Death is very likely the single best invention of Life. It is Life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away. ”
    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/steve-jobs/8721676/Steve-Jobs-his-10-most-inspirational-quotes.html
    The longer you stay in a job the less relevant you and your work become. You need to ride the wave of creativity to stay engaged.
    My 2 cents.

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