A Love-Money Relationship.
Work is love made visible. And if you can’t work with love but only with distaste, it is better that you should leave your work and sit at the gate of the temple and take alms of the people who work with joy.~ [Kahlil Gibran]
It’s funny sometimes. I look back at my education, and I wonder if spending four years in college studying entrepreneurship was the right thing to do. Do I regret it? Nah. But I would certainly say at this stage that I’m not a normal entrepreneur, if you’d call me that at all. For example, money only comes first for me because it has to—I have a to-be wife and four cats to care for. The phrase, “financially independent,” makes more sense to me than “rich.” Although I wouldn’t mind it, I think I’d be too paranoid to say, drive a $60,000+ car around. But on another layer, I’m a very material person. I’m sure it’s hard not to be these days and I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t be reading this if you weren’t one to some degree. Is that a bad thing? Nah. At times, it’s what keeps me sane. I’m in that stage of life where I can look at a lot of the things in my apartment and think to myself, “I bought all this, I worked for all this.” It’s gratifying in it’s own right but serves as only a small part of the motivation for doing what I do.
As many of you know, my entry into a world where the web was my career almost didn’t happen. If it wasn’t for Jen and my parents slapping me upside the head saying, “You’re a web designer right? There have to be jobs for it,” I’d probably be stuck in an entry-level management position at a local Enterprise Rent-a-Car. My chance to work at Facebook also came about—by chance. If I didn’t have the slightest inkling as to what Facebook was, I probably would have never noticed their job listing on LinkedIn.
There’s a relationship here, I’m getting to that.
I was a very casual Facebook user. I was in the middle of my senior year when Johnson & Wales University finally got access to it, so I never really spent much time on it other than the usual profile surfing and member poking. I had friends that took care of my would-be addiction for me. So when I found the listing for a job at Facebook, I was intrigued. “Why not?” I thought. “I use the product, it’d be a cool place to work for.” I said the same about LinkedIn, as I was interviewing there when I found the Facebook listing.
So to start out, I got
x dollars. Let’s call that my base salary, since it was my first job right out of college.
x would have been an awesome salary for a designer if Facebook were located in any other place besides Silicon Valley. But
x got Jen and I a very comfortable life, especially coming from a place where Jen had to work full-time while I was going to school with a part-time job. Jen was finally able to focus on her studies, while I took care of the bread.
However, that didn’t last. No matter the reasons or circumstances, I had to move on. Although I started out as a casual user of the product, I really did find great pleasure in working for that company and seeing them grow almost 10-fold in the time I was there.
I remember when I first laid my eyes on WordPress, I disliked it, because I never quite got the concept of designing around piece of software rather than having the software plugged into a design. Needless to say, I was an avid b2 user. I think this was when 1.2 was about to come out. By the time I found myself looking at WordPress again, I had already been through LiveJournal, Blogger and Movable Type. After discovering version 1.5, I became serious about using it and never looked back. So when I got the chance to work for Matt and Team Automattic, I was ecstatic. I was more than a casual user, I was close to the line of fanboy-ism.
At Automattic, I took a cut in pay. Clearly the company was no Facebook, but I didn’t care. The sheer excitement of being able to help the team out was what drove me past that. So let’s say it was
y = x - .15x. Small cut, still living in Silicon Valley, the family made appropriate adjustments and everything went smoothly
Then December rolled around and things weren’t quite working out there either. No matter the reasons or the circumstances, I had to again move on. To ease the pain, I joke around that it took me working for “the man” twice before I realized I just couldn’t work for “the man.” The moving on wasn’t as devastating as Facebook because I had something around the corner, Revyver.
The price of controlling my own destiny.
The entrepreneur. A man with lots of ideas and a very empty wallet with little pieces of paper inside signifying the potential revenue from said ideas. When I “discovered” business back in my freshman year of high school, the first dream I had was to start my own business. There was always that mass appeal about being your own boss, being in control of your own destiny. So after, high school, college and two jobs, it was finally my chance. I could have very well jumped right back into the foray of the day job, but I felt like taking the risk. After consulting Jen with it, I announced that Revyver had officially received my full attention and was off to work.
After about 5 months of being self-employed—a freelancer, an entrepreneur, whatever-you-want-to-call-it—the comfort level took a dastardly drop. To bring the equation back into it, letting Revyver be
z = .5x. Still living in Silicon Valley, but in a new apartment no less. Just as people in the last post probably thought I was a bit of an idiot, I’m sure the same people are looking upon
z and wondering what the hell is wrong with me. Or not. To reference to quote above, we were always told (by a few of the “better” teachers at JWU) to love what you do, no matter the price. I can say now that it has been a damn hard road for our family, with constant scares and a breakdown here and there, but we’ve learned a lot as well. Sure, that could be a statement begging for pity. The reason it’s not is that this family made that choice knowing the trials and tribulations that lied ahead. We’re both proud because we love the comfort we’ve created out of the situation. Every minute I work is for this family, and there’s no better gratification than that.
The relationship I’ve really tried to look at was one between the love for what you do related to the hit you’re willing to take for it. I’ve seen a lot of this lately—people leaving higher paying jobs for a better company, or to go on their own. There was a lot of that at Facebook actually and Ryan Boren made that move too. When I found out about Ryan, I was on the other side of the fence. “Why?” I thought. But it’s really hard to see that unless you or somebody close to you has been through it. On the other hand, people have moved to jobs they love and have gotten a lovely bonus! Each situation is equally admirable because the person in question realizes that there’s something better out there. A better cause, a better company, a better opportunity in general.
So my question to all of you—applying the relationship I’ve been looking at—is how far would you go for your dream job? If you’re already there, how has it been treating you? How have you been holding up? Did you regret leaving behind what you ended up having to and would you do it the same way if you had the chance?