This summer has been insane for me.
First, I went to Europe for 3 weeks this summer. That was an amazing trip that I will never forget. Aside from 3 lovely absolutely-no-work-weeks, I was able to visit some really old friends, some in Germany (I use to live there) and a few in Barcelona (US-born ex-pat friends). 3 weeks isn’t just enough time to catch up on sleep and unwind from the stress of a startup, it’s also time to do some introspection.
One of the realizations I came to was that I was ready for a change. I wasn’t sure what that change would be or the form it would take but I knew I was ready for something new. It helped that I’d been putting some feelers out on the job market and knew that there were a lot of other really interesting projects out there for me–if I just took one.
Resigning was one of the harder decisions I ever had to make. I kept almost backing out in the last minute. Servio was a fun place for me. I knew everyone, got along with everyone and loved the projects. To this day, I think crowdsourcing is awesome stuff and will have deep impacts on society in the future (like all disruptive technologies and processes, culture and society change forever).
But in the end, I knew that to keep growing I had to move on. I couldn’t stay in my comfort zone and keep growing. I had to make myself uncomfortable. I had to get out there and challenge myself. So, I resigned and ended my tenure at Servio.
By the end of July, I was able to find a new gig with a Big Data startup. I’ll call it B.D.S. for reasons outlined below. BDS was going to be perfect for me. Pre-launch so it was early (which is when a company is most scrappy and can best leverage a super scrappy guy like me), I had friends there, the project is super interesting (Big DatA) and I was making good money.
Unfortunately, after two months with BDS, I left the company.
BDS was not going to work for me longterm and it was obvious by week 4. It was a really bad culture fit. This was surprising and very disappointing for me. Again, I thought it was going to be an amazing place to work.
This is hard to say but my hope in saying it is that the people still working at BDS work quickly to resolve it: BDS may be the most mediocre place I’ve ever worked.
Now, I’m not referring to any of the people; the culture and work dynamics were what created mediocre outcomes.
It’d be easy to blame a few people in the organization but after taking a step back it feels more appropriate to conclude that the culture did not instill a constant drive for execution, rather than blame people for being lazy and crapy. That said, upper management clearly plays a major role in shaping the culture and setting the tone for execution and I will not pull the punch for them: they are failing.
For me, this was a really good example to see how poor management processes lacking environments of accountability coupled with even worse planning and prioritization results in poor performing company cultures. The easiest to remember example is that I constantly heard “not my responsibility” or “oh it’s ___’s fault.” I personally find the “pass the buck” mentalities to be particularly base and mediocre.
Failure here is predictable and expected in situations like this. Nobody would be surprised. It’s also interesting to see it play out in reality though.
I understand everyone wants and expects examples after the statements like that but I don’t think that would be appropriate. I want the team to succeed and many of the people I know at the company recognize that they are failing to execute. They know why, and there’s certainly no need to rub their faces in it.
It was a really interesting experience to work at BDS after Servio. The main takeaway for me is to stand by high standards and that mediocre work shouldn’t be tolerated.
What I’m Doing Now
Being flung far from the orbit I had planned to be in at this time, I’m now moving forward with Plan B. While at BDS, particularly when I realized things were going poorly, I started focusing a bit on the development of a Plan B.
My Plan B is to continue working on the Nomic Game full time, with some consulting work from time to time.
While it’s not likely that my wife or I would have justified leaving a job to work on the Nomic Game two months ago, we’re feeling okay with this being my full-time project now.
It has to do with where were are in our lives and the realization that I won’t be happy until I try. I already know from personal experience that I will never say, “I’m worse for trying” or “I wish I hadn’t done that.” I have too many successes to point back to
It helps that we don’t have the burdens of a mortgage or the worry and responsibility of children (yet). But, ultimately, it comes down to me wanting to see what I’m capable of. My loving wife knows I want this from myself and she supports me. But, like all great wives, she has high expectations. Adria is my greatest cheerleader but also my most exacting critic.
So, other than manufacturing more Dragon’s Eggs and taking a few courses (like Statistics and Gamification), that’s about all I’ve been up to.
Quite the summer of change!