this is one of the more personal posts on this page (well they're all personal and related to you, but this is more concerning our little family).
In short – I've decided to quit my well-paying job, go ahead and join a startup :-).
This is both amazing and scary at the same time. Given that I've had some “bad” experiences in the past with a failed startup that led to a few years of “financial confusion”, nicely said, this is not something to be taken lightly; now that there's 5 of us and not just me anymore…
Here's the full story, though.
I've been unhappy with what I've been doing for quite a while now. Yes, my current job paid well (actually in the top 1% income bracket). Yes, I had lots of freedoms. Yes, it wasn't “that bad” at all.
Yet – being in a huge organization felt like a major pain in the ass, all the time.
Having to discuss everything with everyone all the time. Having to deal with young dipshits that think they've invented bread while being complete jerks. Board meetings where a lot gets discussed and nothing gets done. And so on and so on.
More important, what the job also didn't do for me:
- It addressed none of my passions.
- It was a (well-paid) “dead end” – yes, there would be room for improvement although I was already pretty high up the hierarchy for my age, but I would remain a wage earner in a big, big enterprise.
- Flat wages. I could do a bare minimum to fulfill my duties or outperform – nothing would change.
So for a few months, I haven't really been that fulfilled, but it brought food on the table and paid all the bills relatively comfortably.
All the time though, my mind was wondering
I recently expressed to unhappiness to several friends (some of which
Sometimes, the universe just shoves you in the right direction. Those are the moments where you have to listen carefully.
During a discussion in my business club, I talked to a few members that I knew (and that had just started a new company) about my “misery” – a few glasses of wine during lunch before that discussion certainly helped in being more open about that ;-).
Long story short – they basically said they were looking for someone exactly like me.
We exchanged some ideas and agreed to meet at the earliest possible time around 2 weeks later.
When I told your mom that evening she really liked my enthusiasm and encouraged me to follow along with those discussions.
So when I met them again beginning of this week, they rather quickly offered me a position (+ equity) in the company. It's quite a difference to where I'm at now – empty office with nothing more than 2 desks, pretty much; more or less half the wage I'm earning now, with very little of the “protection” the current company is offering me; etc. I told them I would get back to them shortly.
When I told your mom back at home, she surprised me by saying:
“Do it. Just do it. Yes, it's a risk, yes, the pay will be much lower and it might make things a bit harder for us, but if you want to accomplish something big in life, you have to take risks. It's a chance, and you shouldn't pass it.”.
Whoa. (she's the best, that's why I love her so much!)
So yeah, there I was with an offer that was basically EXACTLY what I wished for (startup, great team, solid existing product, substantial equity;) – yet there's always the uncertainty of leaving something safe and stable for something that might or might not work.
My gut said – do it. It's the chance you've been waiting for. My rational brain said – ugh, think about it. big risk. Your grandma said: Don't be crazy.
Anyway – after a day or so of thinking, what really helped me with the decision was this thought:
What if I don't do it. What if I continue to live that safe but boring life that will be nothing exceptional.
What if I tell you about that chance I didn't take it 20 or 30 years down the road and you tell me:
Dad, why didn't you just DO it?
I don't think I could have lived with that thought.
So 2 days later, I skipped another important appointment I had, instead spent the night writing up a little pitch for my self, and made my offer in terms of equity. The next morning, I skipped work, went there, did my little presentation.
They loved it. They said they would get back to me – but already gave me the key to the office, started to set up the email accounts, ordered the PCs etc.
Now here's how life, if things are right, keeps pushing you in the right direction.
I skipped another important meeting I was supposed to attend. I had lunch with two real estate investors I wanted to connect. When I told them about it one of them said “Oh now! I wanted to ask you to work for me but I was afraid to ask… but anyway, now that you'll be free let's see how we can earn some money together.”
Wow. Now there's a whole new level of “fallback security”, totally unexpected.
We had some lunch, some wine, and when I returned to the office (a bit tipsy), I got the email from the strartup agreeing to my conditions. Wow.
15 minutes later, I had a strategy meeting with the person that was runnign the internationalisation with me. The decision was clear.
In that meeting, when he asked “how are you” – I told him I would quit.
No turning back now :-)
Until now, I haven't even signed any contracts yet, but still – it feels right. It feels like the way to go. It feels like I'm connected to my essence and my energy. And it feels like a decision, to quote your mother, “we'll look back at in 3 years and say: that was the best decision possible.”
So yeah, exciting times ahead :-) I spent the rest of the day in the office, flying 2 meters above the floor. Maybe from the wine, maybe from the feeling this is the way to go.
I love you girls. Everything is for you.