The Future Reunion
Issue 35: Looking back at the people you’re working with now.
The tech market, particularly in Silicon Valley, is highly conversational and open. People are talking to other people about companies all the time. If you’ve ever walked into Philz Coffee on Front Street in San Francisco, it’s full of people pitching their startups or talking to recruiters. The best recruiters focus on fostering relationships, so it’s not out-of-the-ordinary to have casual conversations with people. For those who have made it, there are infinite opportunities that create such a paradox of choice.
In a 1:1 with one of my designers this past week, this topic came up. It wasn’t because they were looking for a new job, but asking how you know to balance all the factors of deciding when to stay and when to move on.
Like many of the wonderful team members I have, I get reached out about roles a lot. Once in a while, people will reach out to me about a VP of Design role. For many reasons, reaching that milestone is important to me. However, I’m willing to wait for the right one. Titles can be inflated depending on the company. For example, I could go to a small startup and chase the VP role, but that’s not what I want (no judgment for those who are in that position). What’s important to me is the long-term gratification of the career trajectory, not the leverage of titles.
We think career trajectory looks like steps to the milestone, perhaps because we typically call career docs ladders.
Though titles are important, the experience you gain and the trajectory of growth is the most important factors. As former Google CEO Eric Schmidt once said to Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, “If you're offered a seat on a rocket ship, get on, don't ask what seat.” Look for growth, look for teams that are growing quickly, and look for companies that are doing well.
The trajectory of opportunities and people are the two most important things to me, with the latter being the most crucial. When my career is over, what story do I want to remember? What rewarding moments do I want to look at and be proud of? What obstacles do I want to overcome and remember how difficult it was?
The reunion exercise
Imagine that it’s 10 years from now. In a post-COVID world, you’re at the dream location to spend time with those you worked with previously. What are they doing with their life and career? What are you doing? Can you recall the stories you remember from the time working together and the impact you had? Did that opportunity propel you and your team to achieve their dreams?
When I did this exercise for my situation, I see so many of my team members moving on at some point as creative directors, heads of design, investors, inventors, entrepreneurs. They’re living lives with purpose and are fulfilled.
In the end, the title you had in the HR system matters less than the impact you made, what you actually did, and the memories of growing with the people who were there with you.
I look forward to the future reunion with everyone I work with, but right now, there’s so much to learn and grow in where I’m at now.