Moving on to the next adventure
Whenever one of my job experiences comes to a close I like to do a small reflection on what happened, what I’m looking for and what might be next for me. Since I haven’t done one of these yet (at least not publicly), this article isn’t actually focused on one particular job experience, but a recollection of all the experiences I had so far.
Understanding what I’m looking for
I’m not your average employee. I want to have a direct influence on the product we are building and shape the company in the process. I don’t look at the clock asking myself if it’s already five in the afternoon and time to leave the office. I put in more hours if I feel I need to and expect others to do the same. I take great pride in my work.
On the other hand, I get really mad if my efforts aren’t taken seriously. If I’m putting in more hours, this is not meant as being the default state of things. I usually put in more hours because stuff needs to get done. Work-life balance is important and I feel the employer needs to provide an environment where this is should be one of the core values.
What’s also important for me is not to have my work undervalued. Especially after college I had a hard time finding opportunities that paid me what I wanted and sometimes I didn’t get paid in time or at all. This is not something I’m comfortable with and nobody should be.
If I’m not allowed to have my opinions heard and instead they being blocked or ignored all the time, I’m not gonna have a good time and grow increasingly frustrated. In fact, that was one of the reasons why I quit one of my previous jobs.
This is why more often than not I worked at startups and smaller companies. There is a higher possibility for me to have the impact I desire to have. Also I throughly enjoy the process of creating something from scratch and seeing the product grow over time.
Managing your resources
Whether it is monetary resources or human resources, you need to be aware of them. Not only for your own sake. If you spent money on expensive hardware you don’t actually need, that was a bad investment. And one you potentially risk your company with. If you don’t really know why your expenses are that high and which of these expenses is meant for what, you should really get an idea what they are for really soon. If you spent too much monthly on an office where offices are empty all the time, that’s not a good move either. Sometimes I feel companies rely too much investments from the outside and this strategy only works as long as you have a high chance of getting more investments which is something you shouldn’t count on.
Planning does not equal controlling people. In my opinion — and I’ve said that in some of my public talks — it’s important to have some reliability when it comes to the future of the product and the company. You need to know the capacity of the employees and prioritizing items — don’t just say “Everything is important”.
Providing the freedom each employee wants
Employee happiness is in my opinion is directly dependent on the freedom one employee wants to have. I want to go conferences as often as I can, learn from new people, find new ways to approach to things and in general broaden my horizon. If I have to use vacation days to cover these conferences, my work-life balance is off and that’s not a good thing.
If I’m not allowed to work remotely and have a 90 minute commute one way every day, that gets tiresome and ultimately leads to me not being as productive as I can be.
A few years ago I was against being self-employed and living off of different shorter and longer projects. That’s mostly due to the fact I had some negative experiences right after college. I’m glad I am part of the Toptal freelance network. Otherwise I don’t think I would be confident in taking this step if need to.
My long-term goal is to create a company on my own, but I’m still not quite sure if I’m ready for that just yet. While I do have a lot of ideas of what my company might be, I’m not sure which potential path would be right one to pursue.
I’ve been doing a lot of traveling recently. If I explore cities and countries I’ve never been to before, I feel more inspired and productive. I hope to being able to keep up the traveling for as long as I don’t get bored and as long as I have enough of a financial safety net. Another positive side effect is that traveling is getting me out of my comfort zone which is especially refreshing for such a shy person as I am.