Starting Again

As I typically do when I’m working remotely, I was getting an earlier start when I received a message from my manager, “I need you in the office today” in Slack. This itself was unusual, and since I was dealing with a water heater leak; the earliest I’d be able to get into the office was after lunch, and I said as much.

Naturally (and probably as a defense mechanism), I tweeted about it:

I went into the office after lunch, and yada yada yada, I resigned.

I tend to fully immerse myself into my work. Emily knows this and is very supportive, and also gently informs me when I’ve gotten too deep. This has happened several times in my career; and is probably best stated as a personal flaw wrapped as a short-term blessing to an employer. Let’s be very real: It’s not healthy, it’s destructive. The signs are the same for me each time:

  1. I find something I can identify with; be it a product, or the people, or the mission.
  2. I get the dopamine hit from belonging to that product/people/mission (“thing”).
  3. I identify with with that thing.
  4. I start to work more and more to ensure that thing is successful.
  5. I get in over my head; but since I’ve developed a reputation and set expectations that I’m always available; I can’t just ease-up overnight.
  6. I put my own interests outside of work aside; and work consumes my every waking thought. It is not a stretch to say that I’m literally working or thinking about working in every waking moment.
  7. My spouse and kids realize this.
  8. At this point; (as things often do), something is amiss in the work side too: (success is not linear).
  9. Things start to fail (small things); and the dopamine hits aren’t coming. Frustration mounts.
  10. I burn out; and become rather useless in my day to day (or night to night; since it affects my home-life too).
  11. Rinse, Lather, Repeat (often in the same organization, sometimes changing organizations).

I’ve known for a long time what I want out of life; I want financial freedom. I want to see my kids grow up. I want to enjoy each moment of my life. I don’t want to live to work; I want to work to live. This may seem foolish, I know, but think about any time you’ve worked for a company and their direction changed, and suddenly that thing you identified with no longer existed. Would you continue to wish you “lived to work” then?

I am fortunate to have time on my hands now, with the impending birth of our third child, to make my dream happen. And so my plan:

  1. Produce a business plan for what I want to do (short term, bring in revenue to fund my long term plan -> building a software business)
  2. Execute on that plan; revising as circumstances change.
  3. Long term; I want to build a software product business that is a great place to work for developers and also sustains itself and the lifestyle I want. I’m not looking to cash out, I’m looking to be moderately successful; and on the occasion that I’m lucky enough to employ people, I want them to be successful too. I don’t know what the software or the product looks like yet; but I do know what I want the business to be like.

With that in mind, I’m currently executing step 1. My wheelhouse is helping solve problems businesses have, and my specialty is using software to do it (or not using software, if able). This neatly aligns with my former job title of “Solutions Architect” and with the work I’m most used to doing. I also am shopping that around to see if there’s a market for an Independent Solutions Architect, targeting to solving the problems that small-to-medium businesses have. If it feels vague and fuzzy right now, that’s probably because it is. I am actively working to shape this vision into a market niche. If you’ve got any advice or feedback on this, please reach out. I’d love to hear from you.

I’m also brushing up on my networking skills. Something I’ve neglected for a long time is networking. Not because I didn’t want to (everyone wants to meet and know people, right?) but because it didn’t align closely with the successes I was having as a full-time employee and individual contributor. It is, as they say, a myopic view of the world.

With that, and with this newfound time, I want to give back in any way I can. Whether that’s mentoring, quick coffee chats (virtual or otherwise), or matching up developers and recruiters. I have a network of contacts (both on the recruiting side and programmer-y side); and if you’re either looking for developers as a recruiter or looking for good positions as a developer, I can help. As they say, my DMs are always open.

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