This post is about my recent decision to leave my current employer for a new opportunity to launch Ned in the Cloud LLC. I want to be very clear up front that I hold no ill will towards Anexinet or anyone who works there. Over the past six and a half years I’ve been provided with tremendous opportunity to grow and expand, and try out new things.
My search for a new job started about eight months ago. I told my parents that I was looking for a new job, and my Mom kind of freaked out. “Why would you leave a perfectly good job?”, was her main question. And it’s a fair one. She also worked at the same school for her entire career as a librarian, so she’s got some preconceived notions on the topic. Still though, it’s a fair question on why I would leave a well-paying job, at a stable company, that treats me well. There are reasons! And here they are:
- I accepted a position two years ago that I do not really like.
- I am kind of done with IT consulting.
- I am ready for a new company.
Let me expand on these a bit.
About two years ago I was offered a position running the Cloud Solutions area. While the organization has been heavily involved in cloud, it was time to double down and create a dedicated role that would focus on expanding our cloud offerings and bringing them to market. The position sounded interesting, and I was done with going to clients and delivering solutions. More on that in the next section. I thought I understood what the position entailed. I thought it was something I really wanted to do. I was only about 50% correct.
See, I thought that the position would focus heavily on developing new solutions and working with cutting edge technologies. But I didn’t realize that it would also include training sales people, going on sales calls, training pre-sales, developing content, speaking at events, and more. There was a lot more to this job than just the product development side of things. Some of those things were actually a lot of fun. It turns out that I really like public speaking and creating new content for the marketing group. Some of those things were not a lot of fun.
Sales is hard. And I am not a sales person. There’s a certain personality that not only excels at selling, but also actually enjoys it. That is not my personality type. I will say that the entire experience made me appreciate the grind that is being a sales person. I’ve been on a dozen or so cold calls, and they are awful. There’s a dance to the process, and a certain level of palaver that is required. I felt like I came to a dance that I didn’t want to go to, wearing the wrong clothes, and not knowing the dance steps. That’s not anyone’s fault but mine. I could read-up on how to be better at sales calls and try to find a mentor. I could. But I won’t, because I hate it. Not in the way that you hate coffee at first, but it grows on you. More like the way that no matter how many times you get nauseous, you never grow to like it.
When I decided to get into consulting back in 2012, I thought to myself, “Let’s do this for five years, and then if you’re done, you will be able to write your own ticket to whatever you want to do next.” I knew that consulting would be challenging in many ways. For starters, I knew that I was going to be constantly challenged to learn new technologies and implement them. I also knew I was going to be shoved out of my comfort zone when it came to traveling and social interaction. I do not travel well. Traveling and going to unfamiliar places ties my stomach in knots and gives me all kinds of anxiety. Or at least it did back in 2012. The idea of going to a different and often unknown place on a regular basis seemed terrifying. In addition, I was going to be meeting new people and having to prove myself over and over again. Interacting with strangers is also a source of anxiety for me, and now I was going to be in a position where I was going to an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people all the time. Seven years later, I can’t say that either of those things are easy for me, but they are much easier than they once were. The prospect of traveling up to NYC to meet with new clients and talk to them about AWS for two and a half hours doesn’t fill me with deep foreboding. That’s just Wednesday.
Consulting taught me to think on my feet, form strong opinions that are loosely held, and enter an unfamiliar setting with confidence.
Those are the good things about consulting, but there are some down sides as well. Consulting is stressful. You have to balance the client’s needs with what is possible. You’re often thrown into new technologies and asked to be the expert in front of clients. Sometimes you are literally one chapter ahead of what you’re telling them. And the better you get at doing this, the more often you’ll be asked to do it. New project, with new technology that no one has experience with in the company? Give it to Ned, he’ll figure it out. Eventually, you get tired of that sort of thing. Well, maybe you don’t. But I did. There’s a lot of other unpleasantness with consulting, like the rat-race of certification, keeping yourself billable to earn your bonus, and trying to deliver the solution promised by presales, even though the product can’t really do it. If you’ve spent time in consulting, you know exactly what I mean. If you haven’t, trust me, this stuff happens across the entire industry. If you’re looking for more context, this episode of Datanauts does a great job.
This is why I decided to take a new position where I wasn’t delivering projects anymore. But I was still working at a consulting company, and to be frank, I was kind of done with consulting.
At first, I thought I wanted to go work for a vendor. I had been creating courses for Pluralsight, and I thought that I might like doing that as a full-time job for a vendor. In July of 2018, I started looking for vendors interested in someone to create training or educational content. There were a few close opportunities. I got to advanced stages of the interviewing process with two open-source companies. One had a travel requirement I couldn’t meet, and the other found someone with more experience than me in the world of learning development. On the hardware vendor side, I came very close to getting a position evangelizing Azure Stack. Again, the primary issue was the amount of travel involved. Ultimately, none of these opportunities panned out, and I was feeling disheartened. And then I had a conversation with Stephen Foskett, and my attitude changed.
When you find yourself in a dilemma, there are few things more important than a friendly sounding board. By September, I was feeling despondent about my job search after going through eleven video interviews for two positions at the same company. Yes, you read that correctly. Eleven video interviews with different people throughout the company, and then they went dark for three weeks. The interview process had already stretched over two months, and I thought I was definitely going to get the job for one of the two positions. At the beginning of September, I finally heard back from their HR person that I didn’t get one position because they decided it had to be in California and the other had been filled by someone with more experience than me. That’s fine, but I wish they had communicated what was going, rather than me reaching out to their HR person every week for an update. All the feedback I had received up until then had been extremely positive. In my mind, I had already built up this idea of getting the job, quitting my current one, working from home 100%, etc. I was making mental plans for all the different ways my life was going to be better. To be completely honest, I actually started this blog post back in late August of 2018. That’s how confident I felt about getting the job! When I didn’t get the job, it popped the balloon on my inflated dreams. Almost the same day I got rejected, I received a message from Stephen Foskett about going to a Tech Field Day event. I couldn’t go due to other obligations, but I mentioned that I was looking for a new job. That led to a phone call, where Stephen was kind enough to let me vent, and act as a sounding board for my thought process. He offered advice when asked, and really helped me think about my options and what was available out there. By the end of the conversation, I was seriously starting to consider going independent and doing freelance work.
The idea of quitting a stable job and freelancing on my own was daunting. I’ve worked for a company, collecting an hourly wage or a salary since 1997. That’s 22 years of not having to worry about where my next paycheck was coming from. As long as I did my work in a competent way, and didn’t do anything too stupid, I would receive pay for that work every two weeks. By going independent, I was no longer going to have that steady, fortnightly deposit in my bank account. Work would not be assigned to me. I would have to go find new work. It took another few weeks to convince myself I could do it. I also had to make sure my wife was on board. This was going to impact our financial future, and I needed to make sure she was comfortable with my idea. To my surprise, she didn’t even blink, instead she went straight into planning mode. She knew I wasn’t happy at my job, and the idea of me making my own schedule meant that I would be able to spend more time with the family. Happy Ned and more family time? That sounds like a win-win.
Ned in the Cloud LLC
With the support of my wife, family, and friends, I went forward with my plan. I formally registered Ned in the Cloud LLC, and got a Tax ID. Starting May 6th, this will be my one and only job. In preparation for the transition, I have started a new podcast through Packet Pushers. I’ve agreed to write a book on the Azure Kubernetes Service with some other awesome people. And I’ve stepped up my course production with Pluralsight. Soon I will be launching a new version of the website, with a listing of services and probably a better look and feel. Graphic design is NOT my strong suit, and I think the simplicity of this site demonstrates that.
In terms of services, I am available for webinars, speaking engagements, writing content, podcasting, and more! If you’re interested, please reach out to me. I will have a contact form on the site soon, but until then you can reach me ned-at-nedinthecloud.com, through Twitter, or LinkedIn. I am incredibly excited with this new venture and can’t wait to see where the journey leads me next!