Starting a new career is not a big thing with me. I have always felt that your “career” was what you saw in the rear view mirror. It amounts to making sense of what happened rather than a planned succession of incremental changes amounting to some form of advancement through life. Maybe that’s just me; I knew people in high school that I suspected had their summer job lined up by the end of September.
I’ve always pursued the new shiny thing. Perhaps it was making a strength out of a weakness that led me into (I almost wrote “career” there) sales and business development. It is not that I don’t get the pursuit of perfection through repetition – practice makes perfect after all. It just never appealed to me. I always wanted to try myself against something new. This is a matter of horses for courses – you need to know what you are good at. You could say that I’ve practised, and gotten pretty good at, trying something new.
I did start in the hardware end of the business, selling equipment at Xerox, so this isn’t totally foreign territory. I got into product development after I had moved over to the software world. I got there by way of business development, so it was a natural progression, just not one I planned. Now we are creating a new business that is a hybrid of hardware and software. Neither is the product, the unified customer experience is the ultimate product, but we have to get our customers to that space by making things that are useful on their own, and let them discover the rest of it incrementally.
I’m no kid, and neither are some of my colleagues in this venture. Four of us are over 50, we accept the fact that we look our age, but we will be damned if we will act it. A couple of us are much younger. All of us wanted a new adventure, and mostly, we really wanted to find exceptional people to work with, regardless of age. Age does bring baggage, but those bags contain useful life experiences. We paid dearly to acquire them; it would seem a shame to waste them.
Our younger associates bring awareness of the prevailing culture from a different perspective. They bring energy, intelligence, their own experiences, technical skills, and enthusiasm. We bring that plus a longer lifetime of experiences. During the crash in 2008 I saw young traders on Wall Street who were in raw panic; they had never lost money in a crashing market. For some of us it wasn’t the first time we had been thrown by a bull – we knew we had to staunch losses so we could play again. That is one of the big things we all learn – the world may wobble, but it really won’t collapse. I didn’t live through the blitz in London, my father did, and if that generation could remain calm and carry on we probably can.
The key for us is we had an appetite to find another good idea, put together another outstanding team, and put ourselves out there. We had the good fortune to know and or find each other. Now we need to have fun and carry on.
Header photo credit: rearview sunrise via photopin (license)
Paul is the Founder & CEO of bbotx. He has developed and marketed software products in different market segments in North America, Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East over the past 20 years – doing business and working in 40 countries.