As the title of this post clearly states, I’m done talking about quitting. I’m excited to move on and focus more on what’s next.
Finally, I want to make something clear: I’m not advocating for everyone to quit their job. However, if you are unhappy with something in your life (it doesn’t have to be your employment situation), I urge you to change it.
Just remember to do it right: have good reasons for leaving, go out on good terms, and make sure you have other options lined up.
It turns out (unsurprisingly) that I’m not wired for the corporate world — not even the vaguely corporate world I’d been working in for the past two and a half-plus years. So I quit my job and heading back out on my own. Forever.
Just because I quit doesn’t mean I don’t care, though.
I’m still a shareholder of the company I left, so I have a financial incentive to root for them. Not that I need a financial incentive, but it’s nice to have one. I have plenty of other reasons to care, too:
I put a ton of hard work into the company, so I certainly don’t want to see it wasted.
I respect and admire the people of Mitre Media, and want them to succeed.
I built an amazing company with thousands of fine people as customers, and I want them to continue to be well served for many years to come.
I still truly care about the people I worked with, the people I reached, the people I helped. The properties I built and helped build. That’s why I went out the right way:
I gave a month’s notice before I left.
I personally handled the transition of any necessary tasks, documenting processes and handing them off to the appropriate people.
If you’re interested, here’s the full text of my resignation letter I sent in early March:
[CEO & President],
It’s with a heavy heart but a great deal of optimism for the future that I submit my resignation from Mitre Media today. The past nearly three years have been an amazing experience, and I’ve learned a great deal from everyone at Mitre that I’ve worked with. I’m fully committed to making this transition as seamless as possible, and will stay on for at least an additional two weeks, or perhaps as long as month if needed, in order to ensure my departure doesn’t negatively affect the company in any way.
As you both know, my wife is pregnant with our second child. Having another child has reignited my entrepreneurial spirit, and I’m excited to venture out on my own once again. My passion for working in the more rigid corporate environment of Mitre has waned considerably over the past several months, and I’m a firm believer in the mantra that if you don’t absolutely love what you’re doing, you need to make a change.
[Some details about timing of departure]
As mentioned previously, I’m fully committed to making this transition as seamless as possible, so I’m open to your suggestions as to how best to do it.
I sincerely thank both of you for all of your efforts over the past few years in making Mitre a fantastic company, and a true force in the tech/finance world. I’ve busted my ass right alongside of you, and consider you great colleagues as well as friends. I’m exceptionally proud of all that we’ve accomplished together, and have nothing but good memories to take with me from my experiences here. Finally, as a Mitre shareholder, I have nothing but the utmost confidence that Mitre will continue to succeed long after my departure.
Once again, thanks very much for everything, and I look forward to hearing from you regarding the next steps.
See? It’s not that I don’t care. I simply care more about my own aspirations.
I think people tend to unhappily hold onto things for too long — their job, relationships, etc. — because they’re afraid of being cold. They fear that they’ll look bad if they walk away. They mistakenly believe that quitting will send the message that they don’t care.
In reality, choosing to leave a less-than-ideal situation for something that will make you happier is always the right choice. It’s proof that you do care — about yourself, and about the other people involved.
I did. I went from a deadbeat sponging off my girlfriend (now my wife) to building and selling a hugely profitable business in five years.
I did. I used to do computer repair full time in the early 2000s, but it sucked and there wasn’t enough money in it. So I stopped and never looked back.
I did. Instead of being just a web developer, I threw myself into marketing, bizdev, stock analysis, and everything in between.
I did. I used to make websites for other people. Then I made some for myself, creating multiple online businesses. One of them turned out to be a multi-million dollar company with tens of millions of visitors and thousands of paid subscribers.
I did. My company got acquired and I adapted to a more rigid corporate environment. I led teams of analysts and developers. I created detailed project specs and answered to bosses.
I did. I quit my job and started all over again. I’m here now documenting this new journey.
Mark Cuban was a bartender, then a software salesman before finally striking out on his own. Ray Kroc was a milkshake mixer salesman and didn’t get involved with McDonald’s until he was in his mid-50s. Richard Branson overcame severe dyslexia to start a magazine and a record company, then an airline and mobile phone company (when the music business started to turn south, he simply sold his record company and moved on).
If a bodybuilder can become an actor, then a governor, who says you can’t reinvent yourself?
I used to hide in relative anonymity online, preferring to work behind the scenes. Now I’m putting myself out there via this blog, on Twitter and Facebook, and by reaching out to dozens of people I think I can help and collaborate with.
I’m reinventing myself right now, and I couldn’t be happier.
“I believe that one defines oneself by reinvention. To not be like your parents. To not be like your friends. To be yourself. To cut yourself out of stone.”
Since I started informing friends, family, and colleagues that I quit my job, the logical question they’ve been asking is “What’s next?”.
And I honestly don’t know the answer.
I do know one thing, though: my life is going to be forever changed for the better, because I will design the lifestyle I’ve always dreamed of for my family and me. I will work harder and smarter, on better projects, within a completely flexible schedule. I’m going to make way more money than I ever thought possible. I will also help people that I like and respect to improve their own businesses, or to start new ones. In short, I will do more of the things that make me happy.
I also will do less of the things that bring me down. I will avoid all the trappings of the traditional job world. I will slowly but surely cut out my unhealthy behaviors, and everything else I don’t need. I will also stop placing limits on myself and what I can accomplish.
More of This
Less of That
Less junk food
If I just do a little more of the “Mores” and a little less of the “Lesses” each day, I know I’ll be on the right track.
So, what’s next for me, now that I quit my job? More. And less.
How about you? What things do you want more of, and less of? I encourage you to make two lists like I did above. You don’t have to share them with me, or anyone else (although I’d love if you did). Just write them down and glance at them any time you need a reminder about where you want your life to go.
This blog, for example, doesn’t feel like work at all. I could write here for hours. Days, even. I could talk business with other entrepreneurs non-stop (and I’ve been doing a lot of that lately). I could collaborate with smart, motivated people forever.
It’s not work. It’s what I love to do.
I’m passionate about building and growing online (and even offline) businesses, and helping others do the same.
A few weeks ago, I notified my employer that I was leaving. I didn’t realize the ramifications of the move at the time, but in doing so, I cost two other people their jobs. This sucks, and it’s all my fault.
I just returned from a week of paternity leave to learn my office is being shuttered in a couple months, and my two awesome team members here are being laid off. All because I decided to quit. I cost these two bright, capable, hard-working young women their jobs.
Tom, is it really your fault? Yes. Unquestionably, yes.
Tom, don’t you feel guilty about it? Of course I do. I inadvertently hurt people I care about. I screwed up. I should’ve prepared them for me leaving. I should’ve warned them that the company might just shutter the office and get rid of them. Instead they found out in the coldest way possible. They weren’t let down gently, they were dropped off a cliff. And it’s all my fault.
Tom, is there a bright side to this? Yes, there’s a bright side to everything. Ultimately, I think I might have done them a favor. Here’s why:
As bright, young, hungry people, they have many better opportunities ahead of them.
They weren’t being appreciated as much as they should have been (by others in the company, not by me).
They both hit the proverbial glass ceiling and weren’t going to get promoted or make more money anyway.
Or maybe that’s just the narrative I’m crafting to make myself feel better about it.
Tom, what are you going to do about it? I’m going to do everything I can to help them find new jobs. Better jobs. Awesome jobs. Jobs where they will be appreciated, and some jerk like me won’t just leave them hanging, while some other jerk delivers the news that they’re being canned in the same tone a dentist uses when he says you should floss more. Actually, I can’t guarantee that won’t happen to them again (and again, and again), but I’m going to help them.
So, is anyone inside or outside of financial media looking for an awesome Analyst and/or Customer Service/Office Manager? If so, meet Shauna and Lauren.
Shauna O’Brien [LinkedIn]
Shauna is an absolute pro at all forms of financial writing. She can crank out high-quality newsy articles at breakneck speed, or produce long-form in-depth research pieces. Shauna never complains, is eager to learn, and is also pursuing her MBA while working full time, which I admire beyond belief. I’m certain she can help grow your business by producing excellent content day in, day out.
Lauren Clark [LinkedIn]
Lauren is a people person. She excels at customer service, and bends over backwards to help people, even if they’re rude or mean to her. She’s obsessed with getting things done the right way, and soaks up new tasks like a sponge. Lauren enthusiastically attacks problems and finds solutions, which is why she’s a great fit for any company looking to improve their customer service or office management.
As I write this, my wife is just hours away from giving birth to our second child. This time it’s a boy, and we’re naming him Thomas, after me.
I’m incredibly excited and more than a little bit scared about becoming a dad again, but I love the little guy already. I can’t imagine all the incredible experiences we’ll share together over the next several decades. Like I said, I love him already, and for good reason: he inspired me to quit my six-figure job and go back into business for myself.
You see, after my business partner and I sold our startup in a multimillion dollar exit in 2012, I signed a two year employment agreement with the acquiring company. Without ever planning on it, I wound up with a job. I hadn’t had an actual “job” in over ten years, well before I left college in 2004, three credits short of earning my degree (more on that later). All of a sudden, I went from master of my own destiny to having to answer to multiple bosses.
Let’s just say the corporate world is not for me. The rigid, structured environment, the quarterly reviews, the constant meetings, status reports, more meetings, the lack of real control, even more meetings…you get the idea. And all this corporate baggage resulted from my company being acquired by another startup, not some stuffy old Fortune 500 firm. I probably would have quit a lot sooner had that been the case.
Still, I don’t regret the decision to sell out and take the job one bit, for two big reasons:
I learned a great deal from the smart, talented people I wound up working with, and
I gained a level of financial security that now allows me to pursue my true dreams.
That’s what my life is all about again: pursuing my dreams, and making a killing doing it. That’s the only way I can be happy. It just took a couple of years with a job for me to come to this simple realization.
I’ve got to go now. My wife’s contractions are getting closer together. Very soon, I’ll be welcoming my son into the world. I’m about to embark upon some amazing new journeys in my life.