This week I saw a post on Twitter, to which I did reply, about how other people helped you during your career, in whatever industry that was. That post got me thinking and to my own surprise, and sadness, I must say I came up to the conclusion that in reality no one really did anything for me career wise. I say that not in a complaining way but simply as the result of a reality check.
The problem is, that got me thinking further about my own career, having spent over twenty five years exclusively in what we now call the End User Computing (EUC) industry. Now that I am very close to turning fifty (yes, the big 5-0), I realize that I did not have what we could call a career and in certain ways that created a problem. And that is probably the reason for this post, simple advice based on what I personally experienced and still do to this day.
The fact I started companies in this industry (Terminal-Services.NET, TSFactory) and worked on them most of these years, sort of created a problem on itself.
First, I did not follow a normal career path anywhere as I never worked for a vendor. That in itself creates a major issue. Pretty much no one in the industry will consider offering you a job for a position like VP, SVP, etc as you were never in the position under it, as it traditionally happens. Like going from manager to director and then to VP. You were never a manager, a director, a VP. Before anything, I must say this is again my personal experience. Not sure if I am the exception here or the rule. Others may comment on this and certainly may have a different experience, what I would love to hear.
The second issue is simple: after a certain age, you may not have the same energy to always be in this ‘startup’ mode, creating companies and trying to make them successful. All you may want is to find a position in one of the players in the industry so you can help them. How you can help will get down to the company. Could be something related to product improvements, settling their position in the industry, vision, you name it. But then, thanks to issue #1 explained above, you found yourself in a catch 22. No one will probably be willing to hire a 50 year old that was never a manager or a director, to manage or be the VP in a big company.
That is pretty much my case at the moment. And before anyone says ‘but wait, you are successful’, the definition of success and how you feel about it greatly varies from person to person. If you would ask me, I would certainly say I had some good runs but cannot really say or feel that I am or was successful.
So here you have it, some free advice. Think about what your goals really are and what you see yourself doing in the next ten, twenty years. And act now. The longer you wait, the bigger the problem will be down the road. Trust me on that.
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