Tuesday, April 24, 2007

A new sort of day

At noon, I have a conference call regarding setting up a new California chapter of Applied Research Field Society, which is the main organizational sponsor of the Industry Conferences. A couple weeks ago, I formalized membership, and indicated my interest in getting a local chapter established. Frank Mayer is the president of the society. Susan Trout is also a board member, and was the one who called today's meeting. The next Industry Conference is in August in New York. I hope to attend, and to have some demos of my current research to share with people. That's my target.

Other than the conference call, I will be preparing this lecture demo for tomorrow night at Lemon University. I latched onto some ideas yesterday about what to speak. I've got about an hour or so of the class to cover, and I'm feeling much more confident about it.

On Sunday, Rocket & I had a date at a local tapas bar, when we had a chance to talk more fully about our current plans and goals, about the risks and the benefits, and about how to proceed. One thing I asked of her (and myself) is an understanding of what it is we seek to preserve, what we're not willing to risk. We're committed to each other and to our family. In terms of finances, which translate into security and freedom, we've decided that six months' living expenses (outside of retirement savings) is our bedrock. Everything else is fair game. That leaves what I might consider a decent year's salary at my disposal, a comfortable sum for getting off the ground.

Not, of course, that I will head to Las Vegas, or the business equivalent. But it puts a frame on decisions. Should I attend this conference? Should I buy this piece of equipment, or this software package? How much will it cost? Is that the most effective use of the funds available to invest in this venture. We invest in the stock of companies we have little knowledge of, and even less say. Why not invest in our own ideas? Rocket likes the potential. I like the potential.

I've talked to the property managers here, to see about moving into a larger office when one opens up. I've asked Rocket to look into the possibilities of her telecommuting one or two days a week, which would save her about an hour and a half in commuting each day. This is because while she has realized that she enjoys her work, is appreciated and well compensated there, she'd like to find more balance in her life, meaning in particular spending more time with the family. She'd also like the freedom to cut back hours or take time off if she chooses. Avoiding the commute would save her time, which seems important. I've asked after an office that would accommodate three or four people. The idea is Rocket could work alongside me on the days she might telecommute (my office is only a five minutes' drive or fifteen minutes' bike ride from our house), and I might be able to bring on a partner or two in my private ventures.

On that point, I've tentatively recruited the first. Eduardo Montana is a friend of mine from The University of Paradise, he's a cohort of mine, and a PhD candidate in [Field 2], with a strong interest and background in [Field 1] as well. We talked on the phone last week, and he was quite excited by the prospects. He's on target to file his dissertation by the end of the fall, leaving him open to working with me after that. He had applied for some post-docs which failed to materialize. Like me, his interdisciplinary interests seem to be a liability in academia. So, we shall see.

Meantime, I'm learning what I can about business plans, about financing options. For now, we can probably spend our own money. I set up my first business credit card (on Amazon) the other day, when ordering some items as inspiration for one of my current projects (a new and exciting one I haven't mentioned yet, but which affords me the chance to bring many strands together into one rope).

And all the while, I'm wondering what will come of these various openings in academia. There is no going back. But, I like the thought of traveling multiple paths simultaneously. On that point, I realize something significant about my relationship with my coach. I seek and need his approval less and less. My self-confidence increases, and my willingness to trust my own judgment grows.At times, it would seem he wishes me to make decisions sooner than I feel properly prepared to make them. For instance, I put off making a decision regarding these two upcoming conferences in the UK, delaying the decision several times. I had only set a deadline for deciding at Paul's urging. But each time it approached, I felt unwilling to discard it. I wanted to hear back from them. In the end, the second one came through. I wouldn't have wanted to let it go.

To some extent, I think Paul has been pushing me to abandon my interests in academia. But I'm not sure that's true to me. What I have rejected is the waiting game, even though at times it is necessary to wait for word from others. I've thrown off the costume of the perpetual supplicant, begging for scraps at the base of the ivory tower. But wishing to not act the dog at the gate does not mean I give up hope to enter.

The point is, I've gained a great deal from these coachings, but I enter a new phase now. Perhaps it is time to begin the transition. When we began, Paul suggested an unbinding commitment of six months. We're entering the fourth month now. When I have my coaching on Thursday, I will suggest we move to bi-weekly sessions. I think it's time.

1 comment:

Lilian said...

I like the image of begging for scraps at the bottom of the Ivory Tower. No... nobody should do that, not even for a minute, let alone for years!