Sunday, May 6, 2007

Me.dium; it's a startup life.

Why did I leave my phat Technical Advisor job at AOL six months ago to join Me.dium? I took a 60% pay cut and doubled my hours in the process. I'm stressed to a degree I didn't know existed, and my general physical health has taken a nose dive (I can now catch a cold faster than you can sneeze).

I left my previous cushy job for a variety of reasons. I'm relatively young in my career, and several months ago I realized I didn't want to go through life exclusively in an advisory capacity from large company to large company. There is more to life. I'm also in love with my hometown, Boulder, CO, and I was spending way too much time on airplanes traveling around the world on business; multiple years as a United Airlines 1K member is a bad thing, not a good thing. I needed to establish some "local currency" as I call it. Boulder's a technical town with lots of great companies and smart people, but few of them were aware I existed in my previous telecommuting capacity; I was a ghost in my own town, and that needed to change. I needed to broaden my horizon and seek out new challenges, both personal and professional.

My first response to all of the above was to start a local AOL technology office to get control of my own destiny. In the process of setting it up, my sponsor (then AOL CTO Maureen Govern) was fired, and I had to slam the brakes on the whole thing. I had offer letters out to prospective team members, and got a hold of one of them just hours before he was putting in his resignation at his current employer, to tell him if he signed, he'd be signing into treacherous waters. I wasn't about to pull people out of their current, stable, work environments into the severely unstable situation at AOL. I gave AOL a couple of months to stabilize and it didn't. At that point I started hunting around for something that would change the world, and satisfy my needs in the process. Me.dium emerged, and I locked on.

I'm Me.dium's Director of Product, and I've done more in the last six months than I could have ever imagined. I've grown my threshold for pain several fold. I've re-learned how to work in an office environment (I had been telecommuting for 7 years); never thought that would have been an issue, geeze! I've also gained priceless experience in juggling several product lines in an incredibly fast moving environment, while being immersed in an Agile development shop.

I used to view the world almost exclusively through technical eyes. I liked to believe I was measuring and blending business priorities along the way, but I had no idea! Me.dium has shown me how rapidly priorities can change, and how to adjust quickly.

While bottomless budgets in large companies have their own appeal, it's too easy to get lazy. The pressure of financing, combined with marketplace forces that can crush you like a bug if you're not nimble and paying attention, has given me a lifetime of experience in just six months; again, priceless.

While working as hard as we are certainly rears its ugly head in the home-life now and then, I've been amazed at how useful a lot of what I'm learning about myself at work, has been at home. I'm much more accepting of curve-balls at home now than I ever have been.

I've learned more about who I am in the past six months than I had in the previous six years.

No pain, no gain.

No comments: