One of my readers, yes someone besides me reads this, wanted me to comment on a blog post by Penelope Trunk. To me, this is remarkably funny. She's a good, engaging writer who is willing and able to write remarkable posts about her family and sex life in addition to thoughtful, pointed and helpful career advice. I'm working on it. Except for the part about writing about my sex life.
Short answer, yup, she's right.
And, 2.75 years after the original post, as we claw our way out of the Great Recession, worst since '29, there's more to be said because the situation is continuing to evolve.
At face value, yes, you're going to be changing jobs fairly frequently (avg every 2 years) by contrast to the world that existed up to the Great Recession (to be fair there has been steady reductive pressure on working at one company for your whole career, staying in one field, etc. for decades). And, that's not a bad thing because it will force you to take charge of your career development.
The subtle part about these two posts, and this new fact of work life is that the selection criteria used to define where you will work has been forever changed. The notion of who you will be working with, and how you impact these folks is going to be much more important than the brand you co-opt in working for a given firm as your work-life moves forward in time. In this new world, you simply cannot waste your time working with people who are not fun, do not bring out your best, or don't get the fact that everybody needs to be pushing hard & smart to move things forward.
But that's not the most curious part in this new world. How has this recession affected how Angels, Super-Angels, Investment Bankers and VCs of all shapes and sizes approach their investments, and by that, I mean the companies they fund which you work for? As we come out of this recession, I'm wondering if the rules, the methods these firms use to make big returns are changing.
For example, will the B round raise be the last for most firms, leaving them to die an untimely death? (Think about it in this very simplified way, let's say you had a pile of money to invest, and you figure that 1 or 2 in 10 of the companies you invest in will succeed. Succeed by when? Is it possible to cover more potential investments over a 10-year window if you are crisper about divesting yourself of those who are likely to languish and suck your monetary and time resources away from other opportunities? If you play this right, there are not just 10 investments, but maybe 20 or 30, which will improve your odds of at least one big payout greatly, not to mention the reasonable payouts.) Are some Angels going to start exerting more influence on the companies they invest in, and start serving in longer-term CxO roles for those ventures which are started by those without Sr. Executive experience?
Let's say both are true (and there are probably others). In any case, if you know the company has an 85% chance of shutting down or experiencing drastic layoffs 2 years after you start, wouldn't you structure your job objectives differently than if you are fairly confident that the firm is going to be around for an indefinite (more than 2 years) period of time? Or that your chances of a reasonable payout for your work is only 10%, or maybe more like 5%, but that you'll know this in a relatively short period of time wrt your overall working career? Or, maybe that you should structure your own startup without raising Angel or VC funds, and maybe taking a much longer time in the sweat equity stage makes much more sense?
Regardless, Penelope Trunk is right. You are living in interesting times.