Winds of Change: My Move From F50 to Startup
by Huntley in MindBites News and Notes / 08.26.08
Almost a year ago, Jason and I were introduced through a mutual friend. We talked at length about what he was doing at MindBites, but, at the time, I was pretty content with my marketing gig at Dell. However, as the excitement around MB grew, my questions about a future at Dell started to weigh on me more and more until I reached something of a breaking point while on vacation - a realization that I didn’t actually want to go back to my Dell job at the end of the week. Shortly thereafter, I joined Jason and the MindBites team not really knowing fully what to expect. As someone who has spent her entire career to that point either at Dell or in professional services (working for F500 type companies like Dell), the move to a startup was both exciting and terrifying (not to mention completely and totally out of character from a risk profile standpoint). A few particularly notable changes I didn’t think to expect:
1. NO SHOEMAKERS’ ELVES: Basic business amenities are no longer a given. I can never remember a time I was without the Internet at Dell. Getting the Internet connected to our new office was unfathomably frustrating and time-consuming. (As I write this, it’s still not working reliably, but AT&T is working on it yet again today - I’ve talked to AT&T technicians/customer support every day since it’s been hooked up. So far, we’ve deduced that the problem is NOT the router and is NOT the modem.) Parking is something else that I may have taken for granted before this experience. This is certainly not the case at MB. Janitorial services, like taking out the trash and cleaning the toilet, don’t just magically “get done.”
2. CHEAPER DUDS: Casual clothes are much cheaper (to buy and have cleaned) and more comfortable than business casual ones. As Kai puts it, “Flip flops are the new professional.” I like it.
3. EXTRA TIME IN THE CONFESSIONAL: I’ve come to hate the “What do you do?” question in loud social situations. Answering “work at Dell” was easy and everyone knew roughly what it meant (and it even got me out of one speeding ticket when Dell was in the midst of some layoffs - “you work at Dell - you probably have enough to worry about.”) What I do and what MB does is not something that’s nearly so easy to articulate in a crowded bar. I confess that I just outright lie sometimes. Course, if I’m not above ”embellishing” my dating status or name and number, I don’t know why it hasn’
4. SEEING THE LIGHT: Natural light is a natural intoxicant. After working in a cubicle where I could see light if I stood up and peered down the aisle of identical dingy cubicles, my day is (literally and figuratively) brightened every day by the sheer ability to just look out the window to trees and activity and sunlight.
5. PUTTING THE KIBOSH ON THE CRAZY: There’s a happy medium on the chaos to bureaucracy spectrum. Big business often errs too closely to the bureaucratic side, but startups need to have some structure and process and general orderliness imposed upon them to avoid the trappings of utter chaos. Deciding where the right spot is on the spectrum is not as easy as it may sound.
6. TYPECASTING: There is an entrepreneurial type. I’m not it, but I like to think I’m a pretty good complement to it. Where Jason sees an idea and all of its extensions, my inclination is to systematically catalogue all of the roadblocks and minutiae standing between where we are and its execution. It’s not a half-full versus half-empty dichotomy so much as a focus on expanding versus operationalizing.
I’m confident more will occur to me as I continue to transition and settle in…