Mistakes were made

PHP, MySQL, and FileMaker pro. These were the tools that I cut my teeth on so many years ago while I working as a up and coming engineer for a small ISP in Corvallis, OR. Some fifteen years later I’m still making mistakes.

About two years ago my wife and I moved from Seattle to the South Bay area near North San Jose. It didn’t take long for me to feel right at home in this area. The people here in the bay area often speak about learning from their mistakes. This was prevalent in the Seattle area as well, but seems to be a particularly nuanced way of living down here. I love both areas for their uniqueness and personality, but I feel most at home here.

After my time at Intuit I decided to try something that is about as opposite of financial information as you could get. In early 2015 I jumped into a company called Radiant which was being run by two fellas that I deeply appreciated. If you ever get the chance to work with Tom and Tony Cannon, you should, they’re an amazing team of high-energy people who are a joy to work with. These guys embrace what I think it means to be a solid valley startup: good work-life balance, encourages failure, and always ready to roll up their sleeves and get the job done.

About a year after starting with Radiant I was let go because Riot came along and bought them out. I couldn’t be happier for these guys and everyone at Radiant. I took this as an opportunity to really focus on what I wanted to do in my career. Over the last few years I’ve started to feel a sort of stagnation with the direction and velocity of my career. To address this I started working with James Pratt from Reflective Management. The lay off gave me runway to spend the time to really focus on what it is that I wanted to focus on.

James and I had worked together before at HTC, so he had an idea for who I was and my skill set. As we worked together it became obvious that I should be looking into the technical consulting world. Early on in my career I was scared off of this world and the fear really never went away. However, it seems like something I should look into, so I started looking around. I started in a rather odd place, I fired up the chef.io site and started looking at their certified partner list. I started cold emailing all of the people in their certified list, then went on to their uncertified, but still partner list.

During my work with James and my search for a technical consultant gig, I was also actively interviewing with other companies in the area. I figured it couldn’t hurt to keep looking at the traditional DevOps/SRE channels to see if something hits.

What we discovered was something that wasn’t really a surprise. Like most people in this industry, I have a tendency to get bored easily. I enjoy the thrill of learning new things and pushing the boundaries. Doing the same thing over and over again, or being a constant firefighter was not appealing to me at all. Technical consulting started to seem like a promising idea.

About three months ago I signed on with a very small consulting firm. My first assignment was centered around ServiceNow integrations with windows clients in a very complex environment. Most of the attitudes in this environment on the client’s side, as well as within the company were very anti-cloud and anti-automation. Everyone seems to be of the traditional systems administration world, which is different than the ‘automate my way out of a job’ attitude that I’m used to. There was an obvious friction that didn’t align with my career trajectories and goals so I decided to part ways from that company. I did so fairly early on because I wanted to make sure that we were not wasting anyone’s time. If I’m not providing value, then I don’t want to just soaking up a paycheck for no good reason.

Eventually I landed at ThoughtWorks. Today I completed my first official weekend at the company and I couldn’t be happier with this company. Their values on automation, cloud computing, and overall company vision is absolutely in line with mine. This feels like a much better fit. Also, like most technical companies, they use gmail and google for business, which is a refreshing change from the office365 garbage. No more sending word documents around, now we can do that whole online collaboration thing like the rest of the world. It’s little things like this that can make a huge difference in getting things done in the business world.

Throughout the interview process I didn’t shy away from mentioning that I felt that my adventure with the aforementioned consulting company was a mistake. I think it was pretty clear throughout the process that I was making sure to ask very specific questions about technology choices and overall company values.

I didn’t ask the smaller company enough questions and I ended up making a hasty decision because I wanted the small company to be something it wasn’t. My passion in life is rooted in building and creating. The idea of taking a smaller company and building it up to something more substantial was very appealing to me. However, I simply wasn’t a good fit for what this company needed at the time. I hope they can find someone that more closely aligns with their more traditional view of the engineering world.

However, I just couldn’t get over a few little issues that had a big impact on my world view and work choices. So, I made a mistake, I learned about what I did wrong, I corrected and moved on. Because that’s what we do.