Category Archives: life

INTERMEZZO – A FLASH OF INSIGHT

Like a thunderbolt out of the blue, all those pieces my hindbrain keeps working on clicked this morning. I think I know why I’ve lost my passion and why I’m casting about for what comes next.

I have the capability to accurately judge risk levels and – here’s the insight – the willingness, ability and desire to take on, tackle, manage and mitigate much higher levels of risk than most staid enterprises are willing to take on.

This leads me to two additional insights. The first is based on the most thrilling period of my professional life when I was incubating businesses and running startups. Agility, Results and Risk were all part of the norm. The second is that those environments are typically where I find peers who are not only comfortable but actively willing to challenge me and welcome and encourage being challenged in return. Personalities go on the shelf, foibles aren’t savagely suppressed for fear of showing weakness. Everyone’s pulling on the oars equally, rowing madly towards a commonly understood goal.

That’s where I belong, getting things done yards, not inches, at a time.

Advertisements
Tagged , ,

On the Importance of Letting Your Boys to Grow Up to be Cowboys

I’m going to riff on an earlier post in this post where I touched on work, life and passion. I’ll also drop mention of Mike Rowe’s TED Talk on Learning from Dirty Jobs. It’s all related trust me.

So this TED Talk is one of my all time favorites. My personal take away comes when he talks about the advice so many of us get – about following our passion, working at something we’re passionate about. Instead he suggests that much greater job satisfaction can be found when we do a job, any job, and let our passion follow us there. I think he’s on to something, let me explain.

First, a bit of background.

Beowulf

Beowulf

From the first time I heard my high school English Lit teacher speak the first few lines of Beowulf in Old English, then the first few lines of The Canterbury Tales in Middle English – I knew what I wanted to be. I wanted to grow up and go on to become an English Lit professor at Oxford. My parents were as incisive as they were insightful when they noted that there was a very low need for foreign-born English Lit professors in Oxford.

So, then, I figured Genetic Engineering. Kindly souls reminded me that there was little need for better improved Palm Trees or Camels with three humps, or why not four while we were at it. Never mind that my mind was set on curing cancer and other genetic ailments. Of course, you see the controversy and the promise around Genetics today.

What essentially happened was I got shoe-horned into an Engineering program. Why? Well, I had a VIC-20, then a C64 (and later an awesome C128) – I was tapping away at it all the time – and everyone was saying how there was going to be such a huge need for “computer people.” Besides, between that busy curriculum and my watchful cousins, I would not succumb to the evils of drugs, sex and rock & roll. Well, I’ve been listening to rock and roll since junior high, that fight was long lost. I’ve as yet to be even tempted by drugs. And sex? Well, I was a Computer Science major – the answer to that is rather blatantly obvious, I think, no?

The point is that’s what I was. Coder to CTO, data center to binary bit flipping.

Mike Rowe was right. If I never have to flip a bit again or talk about it for work anytime soon I’ll consider myself a blessed man. Call it too much of a good thing. Call it just too much, but my siren song these days is much different.It’s about business. Strategy. Operations. Finance. Systems & Systemness. Disruption. Innovation.  Those bits? Couldn’t care less. Building a data center? Why? Writing corporate apps? Again, why? Maybe one day I’ll write more on this topic of why computing has become a mass scale commodity, but suffice it to say, it just doesn’t have the same draw as it used to.

In a way I’m happy having it as a hobby. I want to tinker. To play. But work? No way.

Mine is a new passion, and this is my journey to get there.

The Road Goes Ever On

The Road Goes Ever On

Tagged , , , ,

Intermezzo: Finding What You’ve Lost

Much can be made of that point in life – or two, or three – where you have that existential crisis moment. Life, God, The Universe forces a pause on your chained moments. You stop. And for the first time in who knows how long you look up. What do you see?

It is as important in this crisis moment to look back – not dwell, look back – as it is to look ahead.

For me, I’ve lost something along the way. I’ve always been driven by passion. If I’m not passionate about a subject, I’m just not going to engage or do it. Some people may have the talent to do so, it’s not one of mine and important that I do so.  My passion doesn’t gut out quickly either – I tend to like to start and finish things – delivery is key for me and always has been as software engineer and a manager of software engineers. First, ship version 1.

I’ve got twenty-two years in computing. I’ve been a coder and a CTO. I’ve built data centers. I’ve delivered shrink-wrap products and IT projects. I’ve done one from just about every major column of technology platform. I’ve done startups and large multinationals. To be clear – in each and every instance I’ve had a solid team of developers, marketers, finance, HR – it’s been a group effort in each case.

But I’ve lost the zeal and drive to own, improve and deliver. How much is due to politics and how much is due to the personal worth I derive from it is an open question I debate. Incubation & startups still excite me. Technology in general remains something that excites me. But the rest of it? The jury deliberates.

I know the older generations would pale at the thought of not spending their entire lives at one organization. The younger generations work gigs not jobs. What about my generation? Are we stuck in the middle? I do wonder if this is a common affliction.

I know that what comes next will have to be different. I know I have to find a new passion. What that is remains to be seen.

What about you?

Tagged , ,

INTERMEZZO: Graceful Exits

I have a rather severe case of thanatophobia. I can slip into it fairly easily and self-induce a rather severe if extremely short (seconds) panic attack. It typically happens every time my idle thoughts turn to The Big Why. Why are we here? How did it all Start? How does it all End? But above all – why?

So far it hasn’t encroached into my everyday life nor given rise to other phobias. I’m not a shut-in, but you won’t find me jumping from perfectly good planes or visiting the Nopelia (Australia) Outback – where everything was evolved by nature to kill non-Aboriginals within sixty seconds – anytime soon. I prefer the calculated risk. The measured approach to adventure. Hike the Rockies? Absolutely. Base jump from a bridge? Hell no. But thanks, go right ahead.

I’ve been trying, over the last decade, to focus more on experience and a life well-lived – by my definition, not what Pop Culture or Madison Avenue wants you to believe it is. On connecting with others and shared experiences over being a lone wolf. In part that’s what’s driven my more recent extroversion. It’s safe to say my introversion is in remission but must be kept in check.

Now if only I could avoid the Big Why, I think I could go a while without a freak-out fit.

If you’ll excuse me, there’s a girly scream and flailing hands with my name on it.

BRB.

Tagged , , ,