Friday, June 03, 2005

Does This Make Me a Failure?

Frank was one of my best friends in high school. We were in many of the same AP classes and hung out a lot together in our spare time. When we graduated in the mid 80s, we were both poised for success: we both graduated in the top 10 of our class, were both accepted into top rated schools and thought the sky was the limit. We kept in contact for a few years, but eventually lost touch since we attended schools in different states.

Fast forward 19 years and we run into each other in Silicon Valley. He is a senior VP at one of the top branded tech companies in the world. The brand didn't even exist ten years ago, and he was at the company before it IPO'd, so he is way in the money.

I am technically unemployed.

Yeah, I have a consulting gig that will likely turn into a full time job. And the salary level will put me comfortably in the top 5-10% of wage earners in the U.S. But as I sat there chatting with him, I felt the crushing sting of failure.

We were at the exact same place 19 years ago, and today we are on different levels - mine far below his. But it wasn't skill or intelligence or ability that made the difference. It was luck.

My start-up flamed out in the tech bust in 2002. But we were close to making it. So close. If only a few things had transpired differently I would be sitting in the corner office of a public company with a nice VP title. His start-up made it. Made it big. Chances are you will cross his company's web site today.

So while he sits comfortably in his corner suite managing his new trust fund I am essentially still climbing back from the hole I fell into in 2002. I try to put it into perspective, but it's difficult not to be depressed

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