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.
Claudio – great blog post. You sum up what many software entrepreneurs and consultants grapple with year after year. That being said, I’m of the opinion that if you’re bright and driven, self-employment is the best road to take. If you’re brilliant and can do lots of things well, companies will realize that, then use up all your talents but only pay you for one skill set. 🙂
Anyway, thanks for your continued contributions to the community.
Thanks for your comment Andy. Highly appreciated. As I said the main thing I guess is at one stage you sort of run out of gas to keep going at the rate self-employment requires you to go. Like everything else, there are pros and cons with each option, self vs corporate job and each person certainly sees and feels different about each of these. I definitely wanted to tell the world about my personal experience and feelings at this stage so others may not be in this position down the road, if they think it is one they do not want to be in.