Letters to my kids – Professional opportunities

Eleventh in the series – letters to my kids

Hey guys,

Been a while since I sent you a note, but I saw this and immediately thought about sharing with you. I know you have a while to really worry about this one – but you should be saving all of these little notes I send you… you are saving them right?

The whole startup vs. corporate life thing is an interesting thing. I too have worked at both startups and corporations and I got into a long conversation about some of that experience last night with your Mom. We were talking about the difference the team makes and it depends a lot on whether or not you’re the smartest person on the team. I guess someone has to be the smartest person on the team, but that is only one out of eight or one out of ten and a great place to work will provide that one person with opportunities to grow in other ways after you’ve demonstrated (or convinced someone) that you are the smartest person on the team. I don’t think that is unique at startups vs. a corporate job – but what Ryan from Lawnstarter is describing in the article is suggesting that there are more possible opportunities at a startup that is growing rapidly to provide the smartest person on the team with more opportunities to grow themselves. If you are the dumbest person on the team or somewhere in the middle, the team you are on should provide you with lots of challenges to grow and the fact that the company itself isn’t growing at a rapid pace is less critical. At some point though, you’ll grow from being in the bottom or middle of the team to being nearly as smart as the smartest person on the team and unless there is some growth or change in the company the amount of opportunities the company can provide you to continue learning start to be the constraint and boredom or job dis-satisfaction set in. At those times, there are only a few things that can really keep you going – outside life is providing so many great growth opportunities (or is burdening you with so many responsibilities) that you don’t care how much you grow professionally, the people on your team are so amazing that you don’t care about growing because you don’t want to give up such great co-workers, or you just have no motivation to be better.

As you start to get through high school and into college, think about these things when you are joining teams. Be conscious about where you are at on the team and recognize if your relative position on the team and opportunities in front of you are providing the kind of growth you want. If they aren’t – move on or don’t take the job to begin with.



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