From time to time I’m going to be re-posting some of my favorite posts from the old SportsLizard Entrepreneur Blog that preceded Adam-McFarland.net. I was fresh out of academia and in the process of leaving corporate America. This was the true start-up phase for myself, my sites, and later Pure Adapt. Nothing I write now will quite capture the excitement, doubt, frustration, and passion that is such a part of entrepreneurship in the same way as those 296 posts do.
This particular post was originally written on 12/2/2005 after a co-worker questioned whether I would really follow through with my plan to quit. I’ve edited it down because the original post was overly verbose.
At work, I generally don’t talk about my business. I don’t want it to distract me from getting my job done. People always have a thousand questions for me so I’d rather not deal with it. Inevitably, it always feels like they are trying to prove to themselves that they shouldn’t take my business seriously because, after all, I am just a 23 year old, and I couldn’t possibly know more or be more driven or more successful than they are. My boss is aware of my plans. He understands them, respects them, and will ultimately support me in whatever I decide to do. That is all I really care about.
But people like to talk. And one of their favorite questions for young people is:
“Where do you see yourself in the future?”
It always is proceeded by the “You seem like you’re getting used to work, which is good, because you’ve got another 40 years of it.”
I always take it as “When I was your age, I had a dream job too – tell me what yours is, then I’ll tell you mine and why someone else caused me to fail, and inevitably I’ll make you feel that you will not end up doing whatever it is that you just said you wanted to do .”
I can’t tell you how many times I have had that conversation. I hate it, but it’s hard to avoid when people start prying into your professional aspirations. And today at work, someone started prying. So I answered the questions honestly.
And I get the “I’m rooting for you, but don’t you think you should also develop your engineering career here in case you change your mind?”
I say no, which is followed with “You say that now, but when you meet some honey and have a little kid and want to buy a house you are going to want a steady income.”
Another one of my favorites. Since I am single, they love to play the “when you meet a girl everything will change” card. Listen, every girlfriend I have ever had would support me in pursuing what I love in exchange for a little financial uncertainty. And I am pretty sure that any girl I meet in the future who truly loves me would also support me. I pretty much take that as an insult – an insult to my business and an insult to my ability to develop successful relationships.
I take it as “you live in fantasy land, young man, and when you get out of fantasy land and look at reality you will realize that your dreams aren’t meant to become reality.”
As this conversation continued, I was then thrown the “Listen to your elders, I am twice your age, and you will regret not listening to me” line.
I am all for respecting your elders, but when your elders are wrong I would be stupid to listen. Would Bill Gates have started Microsoft if he listened to his elders? Michael Dell wouldn’t have dropped out of school to run Dell Computers if his elders had their way. Sometimes you need to pursue you passions despite what others say.
I started to realize after that conversation at work that those conversations are part of what fires me up so much, part of what keeps me going. I almost NEED people to constantly misunderstand me and insinuate that I will fail. It drives me. So, in a way, working my job for a little longer will actually be good for me. Seeing what I don’t want will help me stay focused on what I do want. I think that is the best mentality for me to approach my job with for the next year or so while I work towards getting out of it.