After running this blog for 2 months I’m feeling like something is missing. So I’ve contacted a talented graphic designer named Vladimir Vladetic via Odesk and asked for his help. After several drafts this is what he’s proposed:
I think these are all great, so I’m asking my readers to help me choose one.
So be kind and vote- your input is greatly appreciated!
But is it realty different than monitoring your child’s whereabouts using a smartphone app? or walking descretly after them to make sure they’ve arrived at school or friend place safely?
I think that for the first time ever in our history the technology is catching up with parental paranoia and providing means for parents to monitor their child’s location and activities. and it makes sense, because the world we now live is has also changed. when I was a little boy I would run without adult supervision around our house (which was in a small, quaint street with almost no traffic), but now as I live a big city I will never allow my own kids to do the same. When I grew up we were gone for hours and only came home for dinner or when it was too dark to play outside. can you imagine your kid running off somewhere, with no cellphone where you can reach him at any time? sounds so irresponsible, but our parents never had any other option so they simply didn’t bother with monitoring our activities- which, for a parent in 2015 seem almost negligent.
As a father of 2 girls I have no idea what I will do the day the insist on walking to school alone.
Hopefully by then technology will evolve to an extant where I could simply track their whereabouts by monitoring their smartwatch location. I also hope the public perception of such “monitoring” will also change, making me simply a regular embarrassing dad…
My second daughter is due any day now. I am both thrilled and terrified. I know this would have a profound impact on my quality of life, work productivity, relationships with my wife and friends… just about anything.
And I know it’s not going to be easy. Anyone around tells me that. Some with a grim smile only veteran, sleep- deprived parents has.
But other than the fact that the next couple of months, maybe even years (and this does put everything in a longer- range perspective, as I wrote about before https://owntrepreneurship.com/2015/03/30/the-benefits-of-long-term-thinking-and-decision-making/) would be challenging, the fact is that this joyous event is also a great motivator. When I look at my daughter (2.5 years old, smart as hell) today I can help but wonder- Would she be proud of me when she’s older? I’m doing enough to make her life better? Am I doing enough to make her world better? This internal discussion keeps me extremely motivated- and that’s a must, because since she was born my life has turned into a rollercoaster of sleepless nights, doctors’ visits, joy, fear and fatigue. Without this motivation it simply not be possible for me to create any momentum in my life and career, and I would be stuck in the same place. But I have decided not to let this stop. Au contraire, the last years’ have been some of the most productive, exciting years of my career- I’ve switched 3 jobs, was involved in the founding of 2 companies, built and launch 2 new brands and have grown personally and professionally. I’m mostly tired yet energized in ways I never thought possible.
So how do you channel this newborn energy into career advancement and personal growth? Start with the simple, tangible things. Ask yourself if your current and future income would suffice to support your family? Would it allow you to take your kids to the vacation you always wanted? If not, it’s time to think in economic terms and see how this can be achieved (we are putting a small amount of money away every months, to be used for a Safari trip when my elder turns 12).
But the real motivation comes when you consider the less tangible things- like making your kids proud.
I have no idea if my daughters will be proud of me. The only benchmark I have is that I great pride in what my parents and grandparents did: start a company, build a new school, and manage a hospital.
And since I’ve accomplished nothing of the above so far I know that at the bear minimum I need create some legacy they will be able to proud of- like building a company, writing a book (or blog!) or develop a new product that will improve the world somehow. And I intend to that (haven’t decided exactly what it will be yet).
So while I recognize the birth of my second kid will have an immediate impact (like a meteor crash!) on my life, I also know there is not a single thing in this world which will provide me with more motivation to fuel my career.
Our society and culture praises entrepreneurs- Steve Jobs, Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg. All people who risked a lot to start their own business and have had a profound impact on the way we work, play and interact with others. They have also gathered some immense fortunes for themselves in the process, and thus embody the spirit of the American dream. But looking at these inspiring figures can be daunting- these are all obviously extremely smart people, exceptionally focused and with seamlessly endless drive to achieve their goals. When they started their respective ventured they were also very young (not to mention male, American and white)- So it’s easy to compare oneself with one of these giants and come to the conclusion that we mortals are not like them. You and I are simple (erase the irrelevant) too old, tired/live in the wrong geography/ lack the ambition to be independent employees or company owners/ have a mortgage/too busy raising kids/ lack access to funding/ born in the wrong age etc.
And these are not simply excuses. There’s a good explanation for the fact that most successful entrepreneurs are young American males from high socio-economic status. Older, poorer people living out of America (or any other place where there’s a startup culture) have much to lose if they quit their jobs and become full time entrepreneurs. And even for people who actually take the plunge the chances of failure are staggering- most startups/ new businesses would fail, according to statistics.
So most of us just stick to what we do, dream about becoming an entrepreneur but rarely do something about this. And feel bad about it.
We shouldn’t. Entrepreneurship is not suited for most people, and most will fail or will be miserable pursuing the big time startup/ exit dream.
But that does not mean we have to be another cog in the corporate machine. People working within organizations of every size, from tiny to global, can do wonderful things, feel professionally and personally satisfied and leave their mark. The trick is to adapt an Entrepreneurship-like mentality, what I call owntrepreneurship. If you think of your job as part of your career, and treat it the same way an entrepreneur treats his venture, you will feel the immediate impact and positive change.
You don’t believe me? Just look around you. In any organization you’ve ever been a part of, there were always some individual who seemed to be “above it all”. They have the freedom to set their own schedule, choose the task they find interesting and are respected by their peers and superiors alike. They are owntrepreneurs. They treat their day jobs as part of their career, as part of their venture. Other take note and provide these individuals with unique opportunities, not available to the “regular” employees. Once they excel at these opportunities they earn the respect, material compensation and promotion to a senior position, where this process repeats itself. They don’t do so by thrashing others or engaging in office politics (although some political maneuvering is unavoidable in large corporate environment, but that does not make it morally wrong). They focus their efforts on advancing their career and usually their environment recognizes and rewards that.
I have made a list of things that an owntrepreneur needs to keep in mind. I call it the owntrepreneur framework. You can find it here:
In following blog posts I will begin to explore each of these ideas and explain how anyone can employ these idea in almost every conceivable work environment- starting from the most rigid (military service) to the more loose and dynamic ones (self-employment/ startup). This is derived strictly from my own experience (and others close to me, and others I will quote…) and is meant simply as a recommendation, and not a checklist of sorts.
I do hope you join me for this journey and enjoy the ride!
The owntrepreneurship blog has just finished its first full month since I’ve gone live towards the end of February 2015!
During this time over 200 people have visited the site and read the various posts and sections (most of them read 2 or more sections or posts).
If you’re reading this- know that I’m deeply honored to share my thoughts with you and I hope you enjoy reading about my ideas and experiences. Any feedback would be very much appreciated (that’s what the comment bottom is for…)
I can safely say the hardest part is behind me- the challenge of actually starting a new venture and being diligent enough to keep it alive.
Now the real challenge begins- I need to keep this blog alive, and to create and maintain momentum. With my second daughter due in about two weeks AND some major obligations at work the month ahead of me is not going to be easy, But I look forward to tackling this challenge head on. After all- it is my choice to go down this path- only I can sustain it and I’m the only one who will lose if I fail.
So I’m making a promise to myself and my (still too few) readers- I will publish a post at least once every 10 days. This is something I hope I can withhold and should be enough to carry me through the intense months ahead.
Thanks again for joining me on my journey! I promise to update regarding the exciting events that are expected to occur this month.
One thing that parenthood teaches you is to think in longer terms. Things you’ve asked yourself and answered in timeframes which ranged from minutes to days now change to months and years. When will my baby start walking? In about 8 months. When will I take my son to his first football game? In about 5 years from now. When will I ever sleep a full night again? Maybe never, perhaps in 2-3 years, surely not now.
But in addition to teaching one how to be patient, this longer term thinking mode is extremely important for your career. Why? Because your career is your life. And it is long- hopefully we’re talking decades into the future. And some decision you’re contemplating should be reviewed with this longer time frame in mind. And while no decision is irreversible, some career decisions are extremely hard to change after fact. In fact, in an ideal world, every decision effects 3 timelines: an immediate, short-medium turn and a long run.
For instance, when I decided to enlist to the Naval academy I was nearly 18, and knew the immediate impact would be that I will be going through intense training in the next 18 months, where I will be tested on a near- daily basis and pushed to the limits. I also knew the mid-range timeframe I will spend twice as much time in the military service as my peers (in Israel a military service of 3 years in mandatory, as a cadet in the naval academy intending to become a naval officer I was signing for more than 6 years of duty). I had no idea about the long term impact on my life and my career. During that time I’ve made friends for life, met and started dating my wife (who’s also ex. Navy) and acquired mental and professional skills which have had a profound impact on my career. I had no way of knowing any of these great things will happen, but I knew that it was going to be difficult and hopefully a rewarding process. During my naval career I’ve made many career choices which seemed intuitive at the time but made a great difference in the future- such as my decision to move back to the naval academy after serving onboard missile ships to serve as course leader in advanced tactical course- a decision which at the time made sense since the academy was situated next to the best windsurfing beach in Israel and I’ve knew this position will provide some free time to windsurf on the job…
As my career moved on I’ve found again and again that long term thinking and decision making is much more critical than short and even medium turn decision. When I’ve concluded my military service I had no profession per se’ so I’ve started working at a small firm offering technical writing services to big defense manufacturers. I’ve had decent knowledge of English and editing skills and we were compiling manuals for naval systems, which made sense professionally as these were the systems I was operating during my military service. We then started offering training services and I’ve found that I was using many skills I’ve acquired during my service – most of which, my instruction skills.
Another advantage was that I was well versed since I was reading primarily in English since the age of 15 -the reason being that I loved windsurfing magazines (we are talking pre-internet nineties) and they were written in English. I won’t describe my entire career here, but would like to touch upon one more point to demonstrate long term thinking. During my tenure with the defense industry (in several roles- technical writer, instructor, specification team leader) I’ve noticed how difficult it was to deliver successful defense projects- timelines were always tight, shoestring budgets and very demanding customers. The industry as a whole was suffering from budgets cuts and it did not look like it was growing. Also, I’ve found that there was an inherent preference towards engineers, and since I was only a History graduate there seemed to a definite glass ceiling. I’ve thought about where this industry will be in five years and where I will be within it. I came to the conclusion that to move ahead the only way was to either go back to the navy for 20 more years and come out an admiral, or go to engineering college and get an engineering degree- both were unlikely at the time. So I’ve and decided it was time to look elsewhere and found that the homeland security industry was thriving, and moved to a company delivering large scale projects in this area (border security, airport security etc.). After working in that industry for 4 years I’ve noticed it was going through the same cycle as the defense industry- budgets were shrinking and competition was brutal which drove prices down. By that time I’d moved to more business oriented positions so I figured my skills could be applied just about anywhere. I’ve started looking for another growing industry and identified the cybersecurity industry as the next meteor. Moving between industries is never easy but since I was not a technical person it was easier for me to move- the skills I acquired along the way are general ones (sales, marketing, business development) so I’m not bound to any specific profession or industry. I’m also not bound to the naval/ defense industry anymore, so I guess my decisions made a decade ago made sense in the end.
And one last note- you really start embracing long term thinking when you become a parent. When almost every decision you could have a long lasting impact on your infants’ life you tend to slow down and carefully consider many things you took for granted before- starting from which food you buy to the language you use. And that’s a good thing, because if you would focus on short term decision-making you will be stuck in an endless decision- reaction cycle. What you want to be doing is to think- is this beneficial to my child 10-20 years from now? This type of thinking will elevate you above the daily struggles and allow you to focus on what’s important in life.
No matter how irritated I am, 5 minutes into the ironing session and I find myself relaxed and, as funny as it may sound, in a kind of “zone”.
The repetitive motion of the iron over dress shirts and trousers always helps me drift away and rarely do I finish such ironing session without some novel ideas. But the trick is to be able to capture these ideas and use them, or they simply float away as quickly as they are generated. So after losing some really great ideas generated during ironing and simply forgotten later, I now make sure I have my notepad or notebook close at hand. Try it the next time you iron (or do the dishes, or whatever boring, repetitive household choir it is that you do).
No doubt about it, starting your journey to be an Owntrepreneur is daunting. There are so many reasons against it, the most powerful is the power of habit (breaking this “habit trap” is a subject of another post).
So I will provide one very powerful tip to help in this critical and difficult step. The trick it simple- find someone else who’s “done it” before, and try walking in their shoes- or, at least, be inspired by them.
But finding someone who inspires you is more difficult than most people think. The obvious choice is to find extremely successful people, some of them actual entrepreneurs, and choose these as role models. For example, few would argue Steve Jobs’s phenomenal skills and entrepreneurial spirit (I do recommend at least seeing the speech he delivered to the graduates of Stanford University www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1R-jKKp3NA- truly inspiring), as well as business and personal success. But how many would really want to BE Jobs? By all accounts the man was not a pleasant man, and reigned on his subordinates like a modern, Silicon Valley tyrant. Or Jeff Bezos, another dot.com maverick, who’s fiercely competitive and said on numerous occasions that to work on his company: “You can work long, hard, or smart, but at Amazon.com you can’t choose two out of three”.
I have tremendous respect for these two innovators, but I do not wish to be like them. Not one bit. So I’ve started looking for inspiration elsewhere, with the people I know and admire. I’ve thought about my teachers at school and professors at the university (some of which who’s pioneered new areas in research), about my commanding officers in the navy and current and former bosses. But the longer I thought about this the more the answer became obvious- the Owntrepreneur I should be following is none other than my later mother. My Mother, Dorit Gutman (who passed away nearly 7 years ago) was a true Owntrepreneur. After teaching Biology in high school for many years she decided she wanted more and was part of a very small group of parents who started a brand new school with radical approach- the Democratic school of Hadera. She’s done so to allow my sister and I to enjoy better schooling than what the orthodox schools offered. Shortly after she started being involved in this initiative she left her teaching job and started working full time on her new venture, and later was elected by the group (by then an NGO) to serve as the co-principle (and later sole principle), a position she held for more than a decade during which the school has grown from couple of dozens of student to several hundreds, winning local an international awards and starting a nation-wide trend of alternative schools. But eventually she grew tired of it, resigned from managing the school and focus on her new interest- coaching. In a short time span she cultivated quite a following and was delivering workshops, private consulting sessions and training other to become coachers and counsels.
While I love my mother deeply and admire her achievements, it only recently dawned upon me that amongst other things, she had true Owntrepreneurial spirit. She was highly respected within the boundaries of her profession, and when these no longer suited her she broke them and started something completely new, only to do the same several years later.
And the since I was close to her for most of this time (although too young to comprehend everything), I can use here tremendous experience and utilize this a source of inspiration for my own Owntrepreneurial journey.
Sadly, she died of cancer I’m not able to consult with her and receive her direct advice- a fact which saddens me deeply. But nonetheless I have a great example in front of me- someone I know, who’s embarked on a journey they had no idea will be successful, and manage to succeed through all the difficulties, while raising a family and being a genuine, loving and caring person.
If that’s not inspiring, I don’t know what is. So Jeff, Bill or Steve, please forgive me. While you are all great examples of Owntrepreneurship, I choose my mom over you any day.
I recently came across several examples of requirements design documents which focused on the solution and assumed we’re all aligned around the business justification. This is mostly common when all of us are already working on some project and there is a tendency of group thinking.
I personally got to make this mistake a few times.
But then I realized it will be a best practice to start off each design document with describing:
1. What is it we’re trying to solve – and it’s important not to jump to the point of why we’re trying to solve it the way we are
2. How are we going to measure it
Let’s take the common example of the space pen. During the work on the US space program, a need came for an anti gravity pen that will allow astronauts to write in space. A lot of investment was done…