All The Smoke

I’m about to join my 4th tech startup.1 This time as founding designer.

I’d like to think I’m much wiser (hopefully) and more experienced (definitely). I have both the evidence and the scar tissue to prove it.

But more than anything, I’m hungrier. But this time, the motivations are a lot different.

When I was starting out, all I wanted to do was break in the industry. It didn’t even matter what I needed to do, I just wanted to get in. And then I finally did.

I was extremely ambitious. I wanted to learn everything: product, design, engineering. I wanted to learn front-end, data, product strategy, interface design. I just wanted to build software, and everything involved in building software, to hopefully help build something with a positive impact on the world. Or at least something cool. Ideally both.

I was incredibly optimistic, maybe naively so. But it wasn’t rewards that incentivized me. Yes, I wanted to break in, but more than anything else, it was fun for me. Fun to learn new things, expand my understanding of the world, and especially of technology and the business around it. I found my thing and I was hellbent on finding out who I was in the process.

A lot of things happened after that, and now I’m back where I started. People ask me why?” when I could have gone to more established places. Where everything is set up, where there are systems in place, where there are people to help for everything you need, where there are perks galore and incredible work-life balance” (not true by the way), and most of all, the compensation is top of market.

And the truth is: I want more scar tissue.

That sounds odd for someone to say, but there is nothing like building in the trenches. Nothing like when the urgency is at an all time high, when every single day matters, and it’s just you and your small team, and you’re all trying to will this thing that you believe in into life together.

At this stage of my career, learning and building and doing so with autonomy is what motivates me most.

There are bumps and bruises that come along the way with that. But there is nothing that will teach you more than when you have that pressure. I want to find out what I’m made of and who I’ll become.

I want all the smoke.

So bring it. I’m ready.

And I’m here to share what I learn along the way.

  1. Bespoke, Apploi, Thirty Madison, and now Balanced↩︎

November 7, 2022


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