20/20 Hindsight – How Early Career Choices Can Set the Stage
This is my site Written by Alora on April 22, 2009 – 11:58 pm

Rear View MirrorI had a couple of discussions this week that got me thinking back to the early days of my career. Aside from leaving me feeling older than I care to think about, it did spark a pleasant memory or two that I’ve been mulling over since.

Specifically, I’ve been thinking about how early career choices can really set the stage for the directions we take in life. As is often the case, many of the largest influences on our lives are not obvious until many years later. And while I am as likely as anyone to take them for granted, every once in a while something will happen to make me stop and consider the series of events that brought me to where I am now, and what the unintended consquences of seemingly small actions or events have ultimately provided.

There were three defining elements of my early career that I have been noodling on, because they had much larger impacts on me than I ever would have predicted at the time:

  • Getting your start in a startup. What is the value to launching a career in a startup environment?
  • Being in the ‘wild west’ of a new market space. What does it mean to be in a new space?
  • Transforming a company from being “a services company” to “a product company.” What are the differences and why are they important?

Undoubtedly, the first two of those are a bit sexier than the third. However, all three ultimately shaped me in ways I never fully realized at the time. The lessons learned were a bit rough sometimes, but when I compare some of my experience to that of my peers, I realize that I had the opportunity to be involved in some things that have served me extremely well and that I wouldn’t trade in for anything.

Over the next couple of days, I’ll cover each of these topics in a separate post (each one is too long to combine them).