Finding the North Star for your career
What do I really want? I’ve been thinking about this for many years.
Do I want to build a venture capital funded startup? A sustainable humble life-style business? An innovative independent game studio? A wildly-profitable consulting enterprise? Perhaps follow in the foot-steps of 37Signals, Github, Twitter, or Google?
Or maybe I would be happy working for somebody else but I just haven’t found the right place?
There are no wrong answers here.
My fantasy is to build a company which has a very high profit-to-employee ratio sourcing from a large diversity of projects. Employees are very well compensated and operate autonomously with the benefit of the company’s retained resources.
The closest present manifestation of my fantasy is Valve Software due to their very liberal project-assignment policy. Just unlock the wheels on your mobile desk and move to whatever project you’re interested in working with or recruit your own team. Some projects like Half-Life 3 will linger unreleased for years to come, but this nimble freedom is the special sauce that makes every great product from Valve what it is—no matter how long it takes.
My fantasy is Valve, but smaller. A few dozen people, instead of a few hundred. I like to imagine us all being equal partners, remotely distributed, meeting sporadically to collaborate on larger projects, building and disbanding teams as needed.
It has taken me a long time to realize that this is the fantasy which appeals to me most, but even still I cannot quite articulate why.
I have a strong belief in the power of tiny teams with disjoint projects who work towards a common vision of the future. I believe the top percentile of performers in the tech industry are vastly under-compensated and mis-utilized while they grind away on implementing mocks handed down from a designer directed by a product manager approved by a director and budgeted by a vice president. I believe that people perform best when they’re working on the thing they’re passionate about at that moment, and that people can change.
My fantasy is to create a world where I can work with people who share these beliefs.
Now I feel like I have a goal I’m working towards.
Exploring our fantasy career and life is important because it allows us to introspect into what parts really matter and guide life towards some version of it. I believe this to be true even outside of the privileged bubble of tech.
What is your fantasy?