Why Leaving My Day Job’s One of the Best Things That’s Ever Happened to Me

Some people have the luxury of not working. Not so for me, nor do I think it ever could be.

Since the age of 15, I’ve trudged diligently, relentlessly — even haphazardly in essentially every retail/restaurant and customer-service setting conceivable. And let me tell you, these people know how to hustle. 

In light of all the hullabaloo surrounding Steve Jobs and what he gave us — hope, a new perspective — and how he redefined a generation of tech believers, creators and thinkers, part of me largely feels inadequate to continue on the subject.

So instead, I’d prefer to honor him by doing what I believe he’d want all of us to do: keep moving forward. The legacy Jobs leaves with us is not just a product, transcendent as it is, but an attitude: Embrace failure.

Unlearn everything you have learned. 

geeks science innovation vision Apple Steve Jobs Mac iPhone

That’s what we’re here for. Onward and upward.

Though put in rather harsh perspective, I recently celebrated two milestones in personal and career development since October knocked me over the head like a tack-hammer (seriously, my 26th was the only thing I remember about last month…) –>

1) I left my day job

2) I finished something summer didn’t afford the time for: HubSpot’s inbound marketing certification via Inbound Marketing University (essentially the quintessential grad school for geeks).

Some of you may ask why I’d leave a company on the eve of my annual review, a raise and potential for securing ultimate full-time stability with a local retail store.

And the answer is simple, however immodest: Because I know what I’m worth, and I know what I want. The fact that unapologetic is one of my favorite words notwithstanding, a recent quote shared by Olivier Blanchard’s really resonated with me in the past few weeks: Always be absolutely unapologetic about anything you love deeply. 

In love, life, and work I truly believe in that. Without passion and trust I’d be no one, nowhere. No-how.

So yes, I’ll continue to sound “like a broken record” and assert that I see, feel and believe what convention and the mainstream does not:

That if the world is mute to your aspirations, passion and conviction stemming from them, only you can take charge of your destiny.

Super Mario Nintendo SuperMario tech geek Luigi 1UP Mario Bros. video game

After all, that’s “what Steve would do.” Below is just one of Jobs’ countless quotes going around that serves as testament to the potential and power of the human spirit reflected in our communities across the world:

‎”Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them. About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do”

Thank you, Steve, for giving smart-alecks (who dare refer to you by your first name) like me continued belief that we, truly can, change the world 

RELATED LINKS

Walt Mossberg >> The Steve Jobs I Knew 

Dan Holowack, TwitSprout >> 40K Tweets/Minute Celebrate Steve Jobs

The Next Web >> Honoring a Legend

Burnout, Balance and Bad Grades: Why the Latter Don’t Matter

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Joe Fernandez, this Fernandez don’t care.

Heeding the advice of concerned family and friends, I finally took up Paul Roetzer’s aforementioned challenge, the Unplugged Experiment.

For a little over a week, I took a hiatus from the internet. Went home out West, traveled a bit. Reflected on the clear distinction between career obsession and motivation, and the recent burnout because I had lost perspective on maintaining work/life balance.

Admittedly, I cheated here and there. (Checked in once in a while via mobile…)

But I learned some valuable lessons, thanks to said vacation and continued webinars/courses with HubSpot’s Inbound Marketing University:

  • Oversharing: No one expects nor wants to hear from you 20x a day. Even with the best of intentions, blowing up people’s feeds eventually grinds their gears enough to solicit a swift, quiet unfollow, unfriend (and now uncircle). Make it count.
  • Impatience: Sense of urgency is one thing, desperation another. As my 26th year approaches, I’m beginning to realize life in the fast lane starts to catch up with you (pun intended?). Sometimes a screeching halt to pause and really think about the who, what, when, why, where and how of things imparts new insights, but you have to be looking for it.   
  • Listening: PR folk are notorious for the gift of gab. We’re just that fun and cute, right?! But sometimes it’s not cute anymore, and as I’ve read time and time again: No one likes the guy at the cocktail party that simply can’t resist babbling on about how awesome he is

Similar to liking and +1ing your own posts (because apparently we weren’t aware you think highly of what you’re sharing), or begging for RTs (great thread David Meerman Scott recently began on G+).

From an inbound perspective, how do these practices compel people to act on your content, brand? I’ve actually noticed those that Like or +1 their own stuff garner little to no engagement. Sandbox not big (albeit, unassuming) enough…

As Joe Pulizzi puts it, creating and sharing awesome stuff should speak for itself. I might actually have an aneurysm if I start seeing incessant RTing of people’s own tweets next.

Moving on.

The greatest lesson I learned over the past few weeks? How fun it is to disappear for a while. The value and perspective gained from observing and listening, offline and online.

Of course, with every gain there’s a loss, which, though frustrating, I mostly found liberating (and now amusing):

My Klout score plummeted from 57 to 49, blog score from a 92 to 91 (reminders that I should probably post now have been noted and sent to HR somewhere between Vegas and San Fran reprieve).

Whoop-de-do. Freedom, getting out and actually living (feeling the salt and breeze of the Bay on my face for the first time in years) for once was worth every single, solitary punitive demerit.

Speaking of, all the fuss over Klout scores has gotten cumbersome and in extreme cases, pretty alarming. Dabney Porte recently told me women were coming to her, distraught over whether or not to link their Foursquare accounts to KLOUT — but were doing so anyway out of fear their scores would suffer. I was appalled…and kind of disgusted.

Seriously? I’m not active on nor a proponent of location-based apps, but at some point reason needs to take precedent over popularity and ego-mongering.

Final lesson from the last few weeks:

I didn’t pass my first attempt at the final exam for IMU, which requires a 75% passing grade. (Close, but no cigar). I also have never been one to just get by on the minimum. Learning you can earn certification with honors only invigorated the challenge for me.

After all, in this realm close is not enough.

 

RELATED LINKS

Nellie Akalp via Dan Holowack >> Work Life Balance: How to be an Entrepreneur and Stay Sane

HubSpot >> 5 Marketing Metrics Not to Obsess Over

Joe Pulizzi >> Content Marketing World: Why Cleveland?