I do these small anniversary posts occasionally. I’ve been walking around for like a month with small things picking at me. This last week I lost my check card twice, my keys three times, and drove around one night for an hour not knowing where I wanted to eat. It took me until yesterday morning to go “Ohhhhhhhhh that’s why”.
So 10 years ago this week you had this grouchy (grouchier than I am now) guy working for the Federal Government – Tennessee Valley Authority to be precise. I had been there 16 years at that point. If you flashed back about 7 or 8 I had made a half-hearted attempt to leave my job and that didn’t pan out due to several factors. If you were watching me in 2006 I was getting more and more unhappy with work. As I’ve learned part of it was “just me expecting too much” and part was the job was literally going no where. I wasn’t going to be laid off like so many of my friends had been. There was no incentive for me to do anything better than I was doing. It was misery all the way around and I was taking it out on everyone. I had some hobbies outside of work but there was a general “I hate everything” that permeated my life.
So in 2006 I started moonlighting and taking on contract work. In about a year or so I had become an ESRI business partner and Certified Trainer. All while maintaining my day job. It was a bit nerve wracking. Some people knew what I was doing and had it really become public knowledge I would have been fired on the spot. So one fateful day in 2008 I walked into my boss’s office and went “I gotta go”. Three weeks later I went. I found out some time later my job had “ended” as no one picked it up – they just contracted it out. That made me sad but it just re-enforced the notion I wasn’t doing anything worthwhile.
Flash Forward 2 years and things sorta sucked on the consulting front. This isn’t an easy gig by any stretch. Work never appeared with any normalcy. Some days no work and some days it was 18 hours with 6 hours of sleep and more work until it went away.
Flash Forward 2 more years and I was gearing up for a swan song in the Caribbean as I had decided “I’m done”. I didn’t have a plan but I figured I’d have one when I came back. Oh how things changed in the Caribbean. I ended up dropping out of the ESRI BP program as I wasn’t a good fit. I did my last ArcGIS class late in 2013.
Two years after that……. I had grown and shrunk as a business. I gained employee and the employee left due to work being non-existent. I found myself ready to move yet again. Work was more miss than hit for over a year mostly thanks to partnerships that didn’t pan out. Having an employee isn’t easy by any stretch. So many things I did wrong during that time period – which in general seems to be how I exist in life most days. Someone made the mistake of asking me “How do you run a small business?” the other day and two days later I finished my rant.
Flash forward to now and it’s a good existence. Not Glamorous – but work is up as clients find me and I dance on the open source side of life. I accidentally looked at my books this weekend and I so far have “broken even” and it appears I’ll end the year in the black. Which is a mighty accomplishment for me. No 100k contracts or limos or clients where money isn’t an issue though – if you are one gimme a shout. I did turn into a raging capitalist with no being my favorite word of the day.
Partnerships have come and gone. I can’t count the number I’ve had…..5 or 6…maybe 8. Everyone wants to “help” and in general help is lacking in a partnership. I’ve one business partnership currently. I’m good with that amount. I’ve relegated myself to FOSS4G conferences as a creative outlet.
On the personal side of life – Oh the things I have learned and continue to learn. The Phrase “It’s not personal – it’s just business” doesn’t exist for me. It’s all personal. I did find that my body doesn’t handle stress well – water is the key. So I drink water constantly. Working from home can be murder on a diet – so I’ve learned to watch what I eat. I rediscovered a love of canoeing. I rediscovered how much I like ridding a bike again. I’m going camping before the end of the year on the coast. Don’t know where yet.
Occasionally I do think “It’s time to do something else” and maybe I will at some point. For right now the work I do is full filling so I’ll keep moving in this direction. I do wonder at time “what if I had stayed….” and I have no doubt a heart attack or stroke would have taken me out.
So yeah – 10 years. To all of you I’ve ticked off in the last 10 – I’m sorry. To all of you I’ve tried to help – I hope I did. To all of you who have been a client – thank you. To all that have helped me – the biggest thank you is reserved for you, that person there, the other person over there, and you over in the back.