Archive for December, 2010

Is Quitting Your Job All It’s Cracked Up To Be?

December 15, 2010

Last night I got a phone call and an email from two completely separate friends telling me about how they’re looking to quit their jobs. Both are in totally different circumstances. One has spent the last few years building an education targeted at a specific career path. The other is involved in a family business that he’s no longer interested in running.

The common thread between them:

Their current job is killing them. (their words not mine)

Maybe you’re in a similar situation. So what do you do now? The first thing to do is make sure you’re serious about making the big change. There’s no turning back. There’s no hedging.

If you’re going to go for it, then really do it. Don’t ease your way in. Jump out of the plane and figure out how to build the parachute on the way down.

Don’t jump from one painful existence to another. If deep down you’ve always wanted to be an entrepreneur, then go for it. The longer you wait the harder it will be. If you’ve always wanted to work for a particularly awesome company then do it. There’s no better time than now.

Make sure you’re not trying to ride the current startup wave. The Social Network was an awesome movie but like the latest weight loss pill TV commercial, results are not typical. When I quit 18 months ago it was the middle of a recession, things couldn’t have looked much worse. My dad was concerned for my mental health. But I knew if under those conditions I still felt that strongly about it then it was the right thing to do.

Make sure your wife/girlfriend is a full partner. She will probably suffer most from your dramatic career change. Present worst case scenarios up front and make sure you are both on board. Too many relationships are broken under the strain. Remember your family is way more important than your career.

Don’t be motivated by money. If you pick something overly motivated by money you’ll be back in the same unsatisfying position in 6-months.  Write down the top ten problems you’d like to solve if someone would pay you to do it and then go build a company around one of them, or find a company doing a good job at one of them and join the team.

Start doing something TODAY. Don’t wait until after the New Year. Write down a plan, brainstorm ideas, set some goals, call a friend, just do something. You’d be surprised how far ahead ‘doing something’ is of ‘doing nothing’.

For Every Andrew Mason, 1MM Founders Are Crying Themselves to Sleep.

December 2, 2010

I ‘ve always been a fan of the underdog. The guy who looks like he’s out but finds a way to prevail in spite of tremendous odds. I love being friends with people who have no friends (how interesting must you be if no one will be your friend?).

Over the last few months I’ve talked to dozens of entrepreneurs, most have had little to no success. They look for someone to believe in them. They look for some small validation that what they’re doing is right. They look forward to a day when their ideas will take hold and their company gets written by MG every couple of hours.

For every Andrew Mason, there are one million other founders crying themselves to sleep – or unable to sleep. If you fall in the latter camp have no fear; you’re the norm.

Considering I’ve heard from insiders that Andrew Mason only owns about 5%-10% of the company, imagine for every Zuckerberg there are probably 10MM tech founders rocking back and forth in the fetal position at night.

Many sit back and watch Groupon’s acquisition rumors, or watch the Facebook movie and think, “Man being an entrepreneur is awesome! I’m going to be rich!”

While I think being an entrepreneur is awesome, and it would be great to be rich, it’s not as simple as some would have you believe. And to be frank, money rarely solves life’s most fulfilling and difficult problems (family, friends, health).

Some of the strangest and most messed people I know are also the wealthiest. I’m just saying.

At the October Startup Grind event, speaker Chad Harrington talked about his latest company Datascaler (recently acquired by Oracle), and how critical it is for us to have “joy in the startup journey” versus “making the end reward be the joy”.

Statistically speaking there won’t be a pot of gold at the end of your rainbow, but if you took an awesome scenic path to get there, and you found an amazing hot dog stand on the way, then you’ll still be glad you took the journey regardless.

For all those entrepreneurs out there shaking their head as they read about Groupon and Facebook valuations skyrocketing, take comfort in what you’re passionate about and what you’re doing. You’re most likely in the norm. Don’t get discouraged by the outliers. Keep pushing. Keep innovating. Success will find you.