Friday was my last day as an employee of the Walt Disney Company, where I worked as a Principal Programmer for just over 5 years. It was a good run for me. My first job as a traditional corporate developer. Prior to that, I worked either as an independent contractor or as a developer for a consulting company. Although it had its own difficulties and challenges, Iâ€™m glad I had the experience of working as a programmer in a large corporation like Disney. I had the opportunity to design and implement software to fit within the infrastructure of a large, multinational conglomerate, and at the same time wrote programs for a limited number of users within the Film division of the company.
Ultimately, however, I became impatient with the numerous mundane tasks that were required of me. For a while, I kind of needed the slower pace, what with getting married, starting a nonprofit corporation, and having our first child. But Iâ€™ve got the kind of personality that gets bored easily and always needs to be growing, expanding and learning new things. While it is possible to do some of that as a corporate developer, I found the environment just too constraining to keep me actively interested and focused. Additionally, Iâ€™m extremely extroverted, so I have to work in a strong team environment where I have a bit more contact with humans.
So I made a decision to, as they say in the industry, â€œgo independent.â€ Of course, thereâ€™s the likelihood of a decrease in income as you build up a clientele. But with sufficient planning and savings, it is possible to make the jump to hyperspace. That is, after all, how most of the leaders in our field ended up where they are â€¦ a bit of writing, teaching, and consulting, which when put together gives you enough to make ends meet. It is not, nor has it ever been for me, just about bringing in the big bucks. I have done that, but you get to a point in life where you need more than that.
Iâ€™m comfortable with taking well-thought out, calculated risks, especially when the reward is great. Itâ€™s about doing your homework, working hard, and sticking with it. Itâ€™s also about â€œthinking outside the box,â€ to use that well-worn clichÃ©. To me that means being willing to look at things from an unexpected point of view, going outside the conventional boundaries.
I think back on a popular story in my family, about a time when I was 3 years old and my family was living in Verdun, France, while my parents were stationed there in the army. Legend has it, my parents left me at a nursery school, only to find out I had escaped by scaling a wall and dropping down into the neighborâ€™s garden. As the years go by and the story is retold time and again, the wall seems to get higher and higher. But the lesson is still the same. It must be in my genes, but thereâ€™s something inside me that gives me the courage to go beyond where others tell me Iâ€™m supposed to go. Thatâ€™s what propelled me to take a couple years off to travel and spend time in a foreign country, but thatâ€™s how I met my wife, and itâ€™s the reason I now have a big bouncing baby boy. I have a feeling heâ€™s inherited the same genes J.