I was let go from my CTO position at Clip Interactive today, and I must say that it was a necessary move on somebody’s part. It really was time I moved on.
While at Clip, I have had the opportunity to work with some of the best people I have ever had the opportunity to work with. Some of them I had the pleasure and fortune (and I sincerely home they feel the same way) to have worked with more than once.
Many are new people I have had a chance to work with for the first time, they represent a what we call a testbed in software: a laboratory where you can have first-time opportunities to learn the capabilities, limitations, and suitabilities to job situations of these new people, and help them and yourself to grow your professional (and if you are lucky) personal networks. This will sound racist; but some of my best friends are people I met at startups.
Some are, quite honestly, why I may steer away from away from an opportunity; but they are all, each and every one, the very reason I work at startups. Startups are the places that draw extremes of people; but they are also laboratories where only the very volatility of those kinds of people can be exercised to their fullest and achieve the best result.
Think of the kind of people you know. Some of them are more “normal” than others. They don’t have or exhibit extremes in very many things (collecting war games obsessively, for example), but it’s boring shit (think porn collection), and they hide it from their neighbors lest their inner self be revealed (the war gamer will end up burnt at the stake, while the porn guy will get a pass).
But I digress. Remember the bell curve? These are the folks in the “hump”. The common man, of whom Lincoln said the lord must have loved so much because he’d made so many of them. These folks are not big on risk taking, and that’s all well and good.
These normal folks don’t take a lot of risks. You won’t find them in the kitchen at parties; but in the kitchen you will find the risk taker.
That chick with the funky hair and odd facial tatoos, wearing a mesh wife beater emblazoned with the phase “crank yanker”? She’s going to take some risks. She likes ladies and gentlemen. Be afraid.
The creepy guy angling for wallets of the guys (he’s “into” real estate “networking”), and the nether regions of the ladies. He’s got some cash from his ventures, and his face lights up like a slot machine on triple cherries when you say anything about technology. He’s going to take some risks. Be very afraid.
The people who have honed their skills and established a name in their field and want to apply themselves in ways outside those areas in which they are normally asked– they are going to take some risks. Open up your heart and let the sun shine in.
Say it with me, because it rhymes:
IBM is not for them.
People who fit within a single standard deviation from the norm in behavior work at IBM. People who work at Google are pretty much within 2 standard deviations, but they’re getting more stultified as they get older: they’ll be looking within one deviation in a few years.
Only freaks are out beyond 2 standard deviations: <music play=”The Twilight Zone Theme”>the place where the people who lurk in those spooky locales out beyond 2 std devs: “You see it ahead: the Startup Zone!”</music>
You work with the best, and you work with the worst; but extremes are always more fun: that’s where the lab is.
When I was a kid, whenever anyone asked what I wanted to be, I always said “scientist”. What I meant was “evil mad scientist.” I wanted the bubbling lab equipment, the receding (didn’t get that), wild hair (got that), the glasses, the mad cackle–the works! (Said in a Peter Lorre voice) To experiment ! At Trada I finally got the title (EMS), but came to realize that the great experiment is the people: Finding out how they work best, how they do and don’t work at all, what motivates them– that has been, remains and will ever be the great experiment that is any startup.
Good luck to all at Clip. I really loved working there; but I never really felt like they needed a CTO there, maybe I was right, or maybe I just wasn’t the right one.
I’ll still work out here in the Startup Zone, and look forward to the future freaks I will get a chance to meet and work with and the past freaks I will bump up against personally and professionally once again.
The world is a circle.