Looking at the calendar, yesterday marked a year to the date that I learned that my employment circumstances were changing. After 10.5 years in total between Microsoft and Microsoft Netherlands, I had finally reached that point where “your position is reverting to the business and will no longer be a function” scenario. I remember sitting in the conference room with the HR manager and my then direct manager and thinking to myself “Okay, now you can go start your own thing!”
The decision was that clear. In the less than 30 seconds after they told me the news, I was already seeing my new company before me. I am quite certain this is not the reaction they were expecting, as evidenced by their questions a few minutes later. Turns out they were uncertain how an American would accept this kind of news. I told them that Americans were used to getting up and starting over and that’s exactly what I would be doing so not to worry.
From the moment I exited that conference room, I had one direction and that was Future Forward. A year later and that’s still the direction I am headed in. It is definitely not always easy. I’m not here to tell you that you can have it all ? What I am here to tell you is that you can make it all, if you are willing to challenge yourself, put in everything you have (and 20% more) and constantly be learning.
In July of this year, The Do Good Only Company will mark it’s one year anniversary. In that time, we’ve grown from me to me plus six. We’ve moved provinces to South Holland. We’ve started and ran one Future Skills Lab, prepared and started our own initiative SkillsUP Lab focused on Rotterdam. Built out partnerships with other organizations who share our view on digital inclusion. We’ve had to learn hard lessons that not all partnerships are shared value/shared mission. We’re still practicing not asking for permission for the change we want to make. We’ve experienced the frustration of putting our hearts and souls into things that don’t yet seem to be taking off and gone back to figure out how we can do it better.
The point is, I am not planning to stop. And I am not doing anything exceptionally brave or extraordinary. I simply made the choice to go for it. As James Watt says in his book Business for Punks “Attitude is the difference between a setback and an adventure”. This, along with other amazing gems for mission driven people, is key.