Friends, family, and colleagues: It gives me great pleasure to share with you a major career and life change that I will be undertaking. Some of you may finish reading this new blog of mine thinking I’ve lost my marbles. Some of you may finish it thinking it sounds like a great dream, but poor Mike is naively taking himself and his family into financial ruin. Still more of you may be thinking well, it’s about time! But my greatest wish is that ultimately you join me in my belief that I can do this, that it’s worth the risk, and that you will find yourself pulling for me in the end. For while I have mostly gotten past the hesitation and self-doubt that often accompany a move such as this (or, at least stopped letting it prevent me from acting), I still greatly welcome the support and encouragement of my friends and family. So, what the hell am I talking about?
I have decided to leave the “comfortable” world of Corporate America and embark upon an entrepreneurial career working for myself. I have lots of ideas for what may constitute that career in the coming years, but the immediate move is to go into business with my parents running Caracalas Travel. My parents started Caracalas Travel about 15 years ago, when they retired from their full-time careers, and have steadily built a nice little business. It’s not enough to sustain my family and me today, but it certainly has the potential. We’ve been talking about it for the last few years, and for the past 6 months we’ve been focused on building a plan to take the business to another level with my involvement. I couldn’t be more excited, but admittedly, it’s still pretty scary. So if Corporate America is “comfortable” and this move is “scary,” why in the world am I doing it? (recall my first comment about you thinking I’ve lost my marbles).
The answer is that “comfortable” belies a more complex reality. For the past 17 years I have built a very successful corporate career, including executive positions in two different industries. “Comfortable” refers to the fat paycheck that automatically appears in my bank account every 2 weeks. Of course, it doesn’t appear without reason. It continues to appear because I meet the expectations of the corporation writing the check; but for the last several years it’s become increasingly clear to me that I do not always want to, or simply cannot meet those expectations. I’m a proud person with an active ego (or else I wouldn’t have made it as far as I did), so it’s not easy to accept that I can’t meet those expectations. I realize now that it’s not a matter of talent, or intelligence, but rather, a matter of being motivated by common values. If my fundamental values don’t match the true values of the company (not the ones on the wall), it’s very difficult to maintain motivation. Early in my career, it was easy to avoid that issue, probably because the motivation came from many sources which I could find in the corporate world, and maybe our values were closer together back then. As I’ve moved up in Corporate America, becoming wiser with years, those motivations are fewer and less pronounced. To be sure, I could probably find the right corporate position to match my values and motivations, and I may very well go back and do that someday. But right now, after months (years, really) of soul searching, I am ready to take the plunge to pursue my dream and passion of building something of my own. You probably all know the fate of the frog that starts out in a comfortable pan of water as it is slowly heating up. Unlike the frog, I am jumping before I boil to death.
I look forward to re-connecting with many of you in the weeks and months to come. Leave a comment below. Share this with any of our mutual friends and colleagues that might be interested. And stay tuned for more to come.