You don't want to waste any more of your remaining (x-y) days refactoring the same poorly written crap for the eighth time, answering the same 84 inane emails, drinking the same lousy coffee, looking at your watch through another pointless walk-through meeting, and listening to the idiotic pontifications of a boss who you would never talk to in a million years if you weren't here.
You know you can do better. You know you have it in you. You know you can make a difference. Then you know you have to. So you get out your calculator, work your finances, and when you have it all figured out, you turn in your notice and enjoy the best day of your life.
Did I miss anything?
We only talk about the most successful startups. Most companies --- most of the 1 in 8 YC companies that get A-rounds, even --- fail. We don't talk about them.
I've been accused of many things, but "flowery evangelism"? lol More data to support the argument that creativity can come from misery. I was using language to try to convey the level of misery I have endured in "cushy" jobs.
You are absolutely right about the odds. But I don't care. I am aware of them, but at a certain point, I just put them in the back of my mind and plow on. In my case, keeping those odds in background just makes me work that much harder.
The world also needs both illogical achievers and comfortable conformists.
Humanity would not be as advanced as it is if people worked in the way you suggest. We wouldn't have landed on the moon, made it to the South Pole and, I suspect, have barely made it out of the cave..
You said "I'm saying that when you leave the job you hate, you should consider options other than the one least likely to succeed."
You are talking about a personal decision. My comment was about why people do not rely entirely on logic for personal decisions (and why they shouldn't), not about the contribution of corporations to society.
Which part of this is different in a startup? The refactoring, or the quality of the code?
It seems to me that while working at a startup is a good way to guarantee that you'll never have time to refactor your code, it does nothing to ensure that your code -- or that of your cow-orkers -- will be any good.
I've always approached those stressed out midnight feedings and diaper changes with enthusiasm though. Every time I take a look at my crying son I think: these are the times I'm going to remember when he graduates, gets married and has a family of his own.
Makes things much more bearable, I think.
If I gotta be connected to those kinds of risks, I want more control and more freedom.
BigCo's fail too, but no amount of dissembling is going to make BigCo tech careers as risky as startup tech careers.
Why do you think Bernanke and Paulson had to get involved when Bear collapsed..?
I suspect that this will be a short term effect based on so much upheaval due to the mortgate securities collapse.
Then again, if I were in your position right now, I doubt I would find that particularly comforting, so I understand where you're coming from.
Come to think of it... you might want to cold-call JPM and see if they need help!
We just got accepted in to YC Summer 2008 this past weekend. Before this past Wednesday, I worked as a financial analyst at a small due diligence firm where I could wear what ever I wanted to work, had relatively flexible hours, got paid pretty well and loved my coworkers.
Let me take you to that Wednesday: Bossman called me in and said he was pleased with my performance since December and gave me a promotion (essentially a 10-20k raise). He also added that some final details needed to be worked out before it would go in to effect.
After nodding and saying thanks, I told him to hold off as I had just received early stage seed funding and would be moving to Boston June 1. He was at a loss for words ...and so I was. It was awkward/hilarious. After what seemed like a minute pause, we started a conversation. He shared with me his regret for not trying to make it as a major league baseball player (he was a stud ballplayer at a Division I University) while I shared with him how much I had enjoyed working at his firm. At the end of our conversation he gave me his full support and definitely understood why I was doing it.
Dissimilar to many of the people out there, I don't hate my job or loathe my coworkers, I just wanted to try something different - something I'm excited about every time I wake up in the morning.
Trying to launch a startup while having a real job (and in my case another side business) is just too much. I was spread too thin.
So I guess to formally answer your question: the urge to try something different and work for yourself regardless how good (or not so good) your current situation is.
So I guess the most valuable personality trait must be self-confidence (read: overconfidence).
I was also surprised how many people at and above my level in a big company seemed envious that I'd go to a startup.
Sitting on my butt doing little to improve my self or a company (ie: being some corporate tool) would kill me
There are ways to mitigate all the BigCo problems without gambling 2-5 years of your life on a longshot.
(Edit - I see you've done some of that. Maybe you're jaded with startups, I'm jaded with BigCo :)
Also, tell us more about what you found rewarding about your startup. I think: winning is rewarding. Being fully exposed to wins is rewarding. In a BigCo, closing a $100,000 deal feels good. At a startup, closing a $100,000 deal feels fucking awesome.
But: losing feels really fucking bad. Flirting with debt feels even worse.
Who's to say where it ends up on balance?
What I love about it:
Feedback. Really nice feedback.
Meeting people I'd never interact with in my day-job.
Not throwing the code away when the project is finished.
Each bug fixed is one that matters a lot to me.
Payments while I sleep!
Lifehacker links that set the server on fire. I didn't work for them - they just arrive.
I finally did it. Who knows how it'll work out, but after a long time of killing myself for projects I got limited benefit from, I finally dragged an application from idea to release under my own steam and it's making money. That's a great emotional boost!
That's why I decided to take the plunge.
Studies show that material gains beyond a certain point do make much difference in happiness. Note that diminished relative status can contribute to decline in happiness, so take the ego comment seriously too. You better have one if you go startup.
If you are in a corp environment doing things the way you'd like or want means you have to be a senior level IC or some sort of a team leader. But getting to that in the best of corporate cultures would mean you have you 'do' what you are told for 3-5 years - the same thing that you hate and would like to stop doing.
You would have 2 primary options#.
Go through the motions for abt 3 years and then hope you can get in to a meaningful position and do things the way you'd like...
Or, join a startup that works on something that thrills you and instantly start doing things the way you'd envision it. (You have the added incentive of having a shot at becoming really rich through a buyout or an IPO)
# - Other factors like family, current financial condition, the "real" scenario at your current place of work etc, are likely to add weights to the 2 options
Job vs Startup, the issue is the same: you're trying to solve the money problem. It's two different solutions to the same problem. Many of us on hacker news think that the smarter way to solve the problem is by starting a startup/business.
Now, you also mentioned "join" a startup. I wouldn't leave a company to work for someone else's startup. I will leave my job to start my own company, however.
If you're committed to startups, and your current startup craters, you could be 9-18 months from revenue.
It's just a fact: for any reasonable definition of "wealthy", more people reliably become wealthy by carefully saving and investing the income from a well-managed career than by any get-rich-quick scheme.
Don't do it for the money. You're not going to make any.
Agreed, but I would temper that with 'hope for the best, be prepared for the worst'.
People seem to confuse small-scale financial success with google-style massive money. Even if your company doesn't take off, if you can secure a round of funding you can pay yourself fairly well.
And consider that it's a long-term investment in your career as well. A former startup founder is probably worth more than another similarly skilled person for a given task, even a given engineering task. It's like a college degree in that it implies a certain level of dedication that is difficult to gauge otherwise.
I had a number of things that led to the decision, but after my first startup failed, there was little doubt in my mind that THERE WAS NOTHING ELSE I WANTED TO DO MORE. In high school I had a few experiences, were going against the flow not only provided me with experiences that I could not learn in textbooks, but I also found financial benefit from them too.
One such experience, was when I was working at Omni Grocery Store, and I had a string of quick promotions from doing something of core value to me, but it was out side of the scope of my job. I started as a stock boy to learn the store, but when they found I was helping the customers, they thought that I was both too slow at stocking selves, and too helpful to let go, so they promoted me to check-out. Next, at check-out I caused disruption by being friendly. I would ID and card all women buying alcohol, and I would try to remember all of the customers names. With time I started greeting them by name. Again, I had lines when other checkers were waiting for customers, and my scan rate was much slower than theirs, so again they wanted to promote me to customer service, rather than let me go, they offered me another pay raise. With 1 week of customer service training and no work, the Union was getting insistent of me joining. Having a core disbelief in the function of Unions I avoided the issue again, only to find that the store wanted to promote me to manager as that would be the only way to keep me and not join the Union. It was an odd circumstance, but it gave me a tremendous confidence in being different and going my own way. I started the summer earning $4.25 an hour, and by the end of the summer I had been promoted to $6.xx an hour, and management would have brought me closer to $7. I had my goals in school and on the football team, and with manager they wanted me to work 18 hours a week, and from my estimates I could only afford 12 hours of work and still meet my goals. So, I asked for reduced hours, and they were insistent, so I quit. A week later I was shopping in the store, and the store offered me a scholarship if I would come back and work for the store. They just wanted 2 years of me after college. I declined, I had earned plenty that summer for the fall, winter and spring.
Next summer, it was time to get another Job, but this time I had won a few competitions from my independent studies in engineering graphics (drafting), and in the summer is I started interviewing for drafting jobs that were offering $35k a year. After a little help, and a few interviews I landed a job at $9 an hour as an engineering intern. I was proficient enough at my job that I often had dead time, but because I was working at a startup consulting company in house, they gave me random projects, like programing and technical recruiting work. The programing was fun, and I latter realized that I was being billed at $50 an hour and being payed $9 an hour for my time. At the end of the summer I was awarded a $3,500 bonus, which felt good. I also loved being able to work 10 hours a day with over time being billed at 1 1/2. In my time there, I did several large drafting projects, called about 500 people, placed 5 at $.5 million in business for our consultancy, and I programmed 2 databases. It was a ton of fun, and I earned a ton of cash that summer for college.
The following summer I asked for a raise, enough for me to live on my own, I was shot down, so I stayed up at college that summer.
The next summer I had a huge corporate job, at a fortune 500. The company had no problem paying me to sit around all day, but then at 4pm on friday, also had no problem asking me to work over time till 10pm, when the Alaska consultants would !be done with the next release of the code. My Bill Lumburg boss was always very upset with me when I did not want to cancel a date on friday night. He also hated it when I would work on projects to help the efficiency of the company in dead time, and when I would read the engineering spec to things like USB 2.0 for fun(again during dead time). So after you combine the 45Hz lighting with the 56Hz CRT monitor, the boring, hurry up and wait work, with the poorly managed employees, I developed a sort of habbit to come home at 4pm, sleep till 9pm, and then go to the bars from 9pm till 2am only to do it all over again the next day. I was so depressed, to think this is what I have to look forward to to graduating.
Upon graduating, I had a consulting job working on a custom software project, and at first it was great earning more than my just graduated peers, heck I had plenty of experience under my belt, but then again I had experience under my belt and I KNEW that the project was being miss managed and that it would not get done. I kept trying to get the team to do things in off hours to get it going in the right way, but the team lead was not happy with me. It ended up as a confrontation in the server room, where he tried to play me in to complacency, and said "its either my way or the highway." His plan had convinced the other folk to stick around and continue to pay their mortgages, and car payments; but felt it was more important to tell him to change his ways. I ended up quiting that day, and ended up putting more time into one of my side projects that turned into a very educational but very expensive lesson for me. Not only did I spend most of my cash, but I lost friends in the process to not knowing how to manage a full business vs. just a software project.
After that first business failed, I knew that I would rather fail 10 more times if it meant 1 success, than to work at another corporate job where I had to have another stupid boss. Now working for that startup consulting business in high school, was the second best job in my life. Second to my current startup, where I think I have been doing a much better job than my first startup, but I now know that I need to react faster to lessons being learned. So for me, I think it's an innate feeling of wanting the freedom to try things, life learning, stay active, and leading people to a better solution. To me making something beautiful is of so much more value to me, than making person gain for it.
SourceFire went public with Snort last year.
There are ways to do this without going for broke.