I was chatting with a few friends I'd known since I was eight years old about how I felt like we could have seen a lot of their careers coming.
There is my friend who hyped me on Howard Zinn - professor. The friend who was always up to date on foreign affairs - lawyer. The nurturing, fun friend - educator. The one who always should have gotten in trouble but never did - finance.
But I work in tech and my job did not exist when I was eight years old. And even if it had, thinking back to that time I probably would have guessed that I'd run a company.
In some ways I still wish that was the case. I consume all manner of business and tech content. And yet, I'm just a lowly engineer in a large tech company.
At least that's how I felt until a few months ago. A new tech lead joined our team and shared some advice with me. He said, be your project's CEO. By that he meant, figure out what your project needs to succeed and do it.
I reframed my own work with that idea in mind. Yes, I work for a manager. I'm part of a team with a tech lead. But, what if I think of them more like the Board of Directors of my project? I have to keep them in the loop on strategy, update them on progress, troubleshoot problems with them, and most importantly keep them confident that I'm able to run the project.
There are people at work who use the things that I make. They are my customers. I have to keep them happy. Some customers are higher value than others. Some customers require a lot of support, but do not generate a ton of value.
Then there are other people at work who I depend on. I use things they create. They are my vendors. I want to make sure that they deliver on their promises and I need to pressure them to do it faster than they otherwise would.
Finally, in terms of pay I'd have to be the CEO of a pretty successful business to make more than I make now. Many freelancers and small business CEO's will point to the freedom they have to work on what they want. Well, I actually have a lot of freedom too. I have a lot of control over my schedule and as long as my Board of Directors retains confidence in my work, I can decide what I need to do.
And every other Friday, the paycheck hits the bank.