I started my first “real” job – my career – eighteen years ago today. I walked into the TI’s HR department the day after Memorial Day 1989 fresh faced and bright eyed, ready for the world. So on this eighteenth anniversary, here are some random thoughts:
- My goal when I started my career was “to be successful.” My career goal now is…I really don’t have one. The definition of “success” has been redefined for me, and the fact of the matter is that I live the lifestyle I want. I work from home and have free time to do things I enjoy - that is when I am not overseas wheeling and dealing with international executives. I got a pretty good set-up, actually.
- Despite the previous comment, I actually work a hell of a lot. It is how I work that is different today. I may take two hours to work-out at lunch, but I get up at the crack of dawn to check on issues from Europe and then have 8pm conference calls with Asia. I do email at all hours, including weekends and holidays, and just spent Memorial Day on a plane heading to Asia for a business meeting (it isn’t a holiday here). So what changed isn’t the amount of time I work, it is when and how I work. That means flexibility during the day, but it also means a blurred line between “home” and “office”.
- The last thing that I thought when I first entered the corridors of business was that I would EVER be unemployed. Looking back on the experience I would like to think that six months of forced retirement made me a better worker, but I think it made me more cynical. If anything, six months of unemployment deepened my hate of HR departments.
- My MBA was one of the best things I ever did. I got about twenty years of business experience in three. Which is why I tell people to get them early in their careers. If you get to 40 without an MBA, going and getting one is a waste of time.
- I figured out I am not CEO material, but that is okay. Not everyone can be a CEO, and after being around a lot of them for the last eighteen years I really don’t want to be one.
- I also figured out I am not an entrepreneur. I have had tons spare time over the past few years where I could have started something on the side, but never had the urge. I rather go biking, go to a Tae Kwon Do class, jog, blog or do something else with my spare time. The urge to build a business just isn’t there.
- I’ve traveled to Asia so much that I’m more comfortable going to Tokyo than New York.
- One thing hasn’t changed for me, and that is the concept of “retirement”. I knew people at TI who were counting down the years, and that isn’t for me. I wouldn’t know what the hell to do with myself, so I just don’t see myself doing it voluntarily. I see myself cutting down and doing part-time consulting, but I have three more decades to go before I have to worry about it.