I've been on hiatus for a while. The things that I wanted to write about I couldn't for fear of reprisal. It's been no secret to anyone who knows me personally that I wasn't happy with my job. I won't discuss it here yet as there is always the chance that someone would connect this to the real Tonamok and I'd rather not have to explain my true feelings. Suffice it to say that things have changed and although I'm no longer miserable at work, I'm not 100% happy either.
I recently discovered the Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce on YouTube. Their location is RSAnimate and they have a really interesting way to explain topics. The most recent one that I watched was from a lecture from Dan Pink. In his discussion he explains that motivation for creative people and notes that bonuses and other monetary pushes don't really motivate creative individuals. What he purports is that if we get paid enough to no longer worry about money, and then left to our own devices that creativity and productivity swell. I definitely think that he is on to something as I have been extremely creative in many of my endeavors in the past, and they always happened when I wasn't worried about money. When I could just pour out my brain without having to worry if I was going to make the mortgage payment, then I really was able to produce some winners. When I've been worried about how to make ends meet, or when I'm worried that the politics of the moment might be the end of my job, then I've never been able to excel.
I've always had an entrepreneurial gene and have owned 3 companies in my life and worked for 5 other companies as just a worker. In my first two companies, I was very successful. I built a web design business from the ground up, out of a spare bedroom in my townhouse. I did it part time as I was working for another successful enterprise (for me). In the case of the full time job, I was making more money than I had ever made in my life and was quite comfortable. I excelled there and was the wonderkid that everyone turned to for their computer needs, even though I was employed as an Archaeologist (I'll save that story for a later time). The success of the first one, lead me to the second one, my part time business. Eventually, the part time business was so successful that a local ISP wanted me to become a partner, and thus I started company #2.
Company #2 was also a success. I did have to quit my first full time job and work it full time. Although monetarily it wasn't as successful as the previous two together (full time + part time), I was still able to be very creative. It wasn't until I got too big for my own good and felt that I had to separate the web design portion of the business from the ISP that I had my first failure. Instead of running it out of my home (and homes of my employees), I had to have office space, etc. I spent all of my time worrying how to get the next job and how to pay everyone to the point that we just weren't as creative as we initially were. Without that creative differentiator we were unable to command top dollar and we eventually had to close our doors.
Since then I went from job to job only staying 1-2 years each. I've found that companies are quite stupid when it comes to employees. Once you are hired, they then become stingy with their money and you are lucky if you get a 2% raise (if you get one at all). However, the cost of replacing me or any other highly creative individual is typically 30% of what I'm already making. For me, or someone like me, we can count on 5-20% increase by switching jobs. That means that most people are willing to leave a position for a 10% increase especially since most employers won't pay that fee. Instead they would rather hire someone new, with no domain experience (and I haven't met a software developer yet who didn't want to immediately rewrite any code they are saddled with), for at least 5-10% more than I was making, and pay a 20% recruiter fee on top of that. Sad. Faced with this corporate antipathy for its employees, I always chose the greener pasture.
However, that stopped once I received stock options that were actually worth something. In hindsight, I wish I had never gotten them. Stock options give you the impression that they are worth money, enough to make you comfortable and thus then creative. But its just an illusion. Its that carrot to do better and thus make more and ultimately they are not motivational at all. It took me several years to realize that and I'm now back at the point of wanting, no needing, to not worry about money. If anything, I feel that lack of creativity for the past several years and I feel that I'm minimized because of it.
Regardless, there are many things happening around me that remind me that the only thing that really matters to me is family. I've seen deaths the past year, some senseless and tragic, others random and heartbreaking. All I know is that no one can predict when or where their time is up and maximizing every moment with those you love should be the most important choice. I now know that all of my future choices in life will weigh that heavily. So, for my future, I want a job that money is no longer my worry, and one that doesn't interfere with my fragile and limited time with my family.
Ok, so a bit rambling today, but that is to be expected. I'm actually on vacation and have had some time to think about my life and what I like and don't like about it. I've been so unhappy for the past few years and couldn't figure out why. I think I'm starting to understand it now and having that knowledge will make it easier to fix. After all, knowing you have a problem is the first step in solving it.
Oh, and just so that BP keeps loosing money - oil spill, British petroleum, gulf of mexico, pensacola, mobile, Louisiana, marsh, wildlife, gasoline.