It’s true. Role models are hard to come by for me. Professional role models, that is. I’m sure we’ve all played the game of “Whose career do I want mine to look like ten years from now?” Honestly, I find myself at a junction in life where I don’t have a clear cut answer to that question.
So, lately, I’ve been working it from the reverse angle. Whose career do I not want my career to look like ten years from now? Then, I extrapolate what I want to do differently.
The first thing that comes to mind is that I don’t want my career to look like the burned out corporate management position. Managing people is hard. Working for a company that doesn’t know how to treat people well is hard. This is a cross section I hope to never deal with. I shouldn’t dread coming into work every day, nor should I consistently be bored at work every day. Ideally, I’m also superbly interested in not only what I’m doing daily, but what my company is doing. I want to be working for a company who is on a mission to impact people’s lives in a substantial way. And, for the record, I don’t consider a company that looks to make businesses make more money a substantial impact on someone’s lives. Some of you may find it humorous to hear me say that considering I’m heavily involved at Anchor Tab and it doesn’t fit that definition, but the truth of the matter is that Anchor Tab meets some other criteria (see below) and I’m fully willing to work in positions that I believe are stepping stones to getting where I want to be.
Number two: I don’t want my career to be that of the lonely wanderer. All areas of life, including a professional career, are more fun with people that you enjoy working with. If you’re not having fun and you’re not surrounded around people who spur you on to have fun, something is wrong. This is one of the major reasons I’m working on Anchor Tab: the Cirion Group guys and I have been friends for years and I’m choosing to collaborate with them. Is our product going to change the world? Probably not. But I’m sure going to have fun building it (I have so far).
The third, and possibly the hardest one I’ve had to cope with, is that I don’t want my career to look like the stereotypical startup employee. This is difficult for me, because I want to be involved in startups, but my career will never be the most important thing in my life. Given the choice between working late and going out for drinks with friends, I want to be known for choosing to go our for drinks. Working a Saturday here and there? Fine, so long as it’s not a regular occurrence. I want my life to be filled with friends, family, conversation, coffee, travel, and all the things that come along with that. I think it’s possible to run a company and still have that, but I don’t have a bullet point plan to give you. It’s a gut feeling. I know that it requires delegation skill, but the truth of the matter is that either I’ll be able to make it work – or I won’t. If I can’t, then I just won’t be involved in startups. Maybe it’ll mean I won’t be involved in more than one startup. That’s fine, because I want it to be said of my career that I was successful while never known for standing up a friend for coffee or being distracted while at home with the family.
These are just some thoughts that have been rumbling around up in my head over the past few days. What are yours?