Sometimes you need to listen to your own advice
Many of you know that this past year, I published the book "Entrepreneur is a Verb". I wrote this book to share the lessons I've learned about how to find a fulfilling career by thinking like an entrepreneur - where you are a product, your career is a startup, and the job market is the market for "you, the product".
Since I graduated college with a degree in electrical engineering, I learned a lot about where I fit in a work setting: what I enjoy, what I'm naturally good at, where I have the greatest impact, what I'm passionate about, and what kind of team I like to work with. Recently I had to a lesson from my own book, when I made the decision to resign from my latest role at the Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron. In this blog, I'll walk you through the process I've been through - the past, present, and future, in hopes that if you're considering a change in your career, this might inspire you to take action as well.
Formula for Career Satisfaction: doing what you're good at + working for something you're passionate about + being part of the right team environment = happy
Leading up to Bounce
I worked as an engineer at NASA for 4 years. I knew almost from the get-go that I wasn't cut out to be an engineer. While I enjoy working with technology, I'm not cut out to be the one developing it. I realized my natural talents were working with people - relationship building, and serving as a connector. This motivated me to pivot my career into sales and business development just a few years out of college. I learned what type of work I wanted to do and how I made an impact, but that still wasn't enough to make me happy.
The next key component to being happy with your work is doing work you're passionate about. I found my passion through a personal experience, as many people do. I had a startup in college which I spent nearly 8 years with total. Over that time, myself and my cofounders struggled to connect to other founders, resources, funding, and good mentorship in the region. After going through a painful separation with my company, I found that my passion was to help other startup founders navigate this same process - to improve the local startup ecosystem. This is what led me to work for Launch League, a local founder community. But I wanted to have a greater impact - help more founders, at a regional level. So when the opportunity to be contractor #1 for the Bounce Innovation Hub in Akron came about, I jumped on it. I thought, this is the perfect opportunity for me to use my skills to serve a mission I'm passionate about by building a new innovation hub and improving the ecosystem for founders. So I had doing what you're good at + working for something you're passionate about, but I was missing the final component - the team and work environment.
Ask anybody that's founded a company and they'll tell you - once a founder, always a founder. As much as I thought doing work I'm good at and working for a cause I care about will be it for me, I realized I just can't do the 9-5 job-thing. I'm setup to work a different way, in a different environment. Beyond this, over the years, I've had the opportunity to work with over 10 different teams. From each of these, I've seen different company cultures, different personalities, and what type of team works for me. I'm naturally drawn to the startup company culture - where we're all highly motivated and work our butts off, we respect each other, we know how and when to let loose and have fun, and we're basically a family. I realized I needed that type of culture if I want to be happy with my work, and I just didn't feel like I was a fit for the team in my latest role.
You need all three components to be happy at your job. This is a hard lesson I had to learn recently, and is the reason I'm leaving what many people thought was the perfect position for me.
Life after Bounce
I resigned from my job this week. People are asking me why (see above), and what my plans are next. To be honest, I'm searching - to find that fit to the formula I know in my head. I'm not going to rush into anything, but at least that formula serves as a compass to guide my decision making when I have a multitude of directions I can take my career in. It's a filter, to help me see clearly when an opportunity will not be a fit.
If you're unhappy with your work, keep the formula in mind - do you have all 3 key components of job satisfaction? Like any good entrepreneur, I can't wait to see what my next pivot will be. I hope you find yours too!