Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Putting together a team

Below is a note I sent my coach yesterday, and some of his response this morning. For those of you playing along at home, I realize you may be wondering who this guy is who has hijacked the blog. You might not recognize me as much anymore. I've been huddled in the corner, muttering to myself and anyone who'd listen, for the past two years. Funny, the corner hasn't gotten any larger, warmer, or better lit, nor the audience any more appreciative. And now you see me, center stage, with a megaphone.

Is the purpose for this blog coming to an end? Am I finding the rainbow at the end of the blue? I don't know. It's a rollercoaster. Classic manic-depressive perhaps. Right now, I'm up, and I'm not particularly looking forward to a crash. One thing I know for certain: there's no going back.

Before I go to the interactions with Paul, let me give you the bullet points. Yesterday, I sent off a few notes to people I know in [Applied Research Field] to find out what I could about who might be working on [specific goal]:
  • Frank Mayer wrote: "I don’t recall knowing of anyone in the community who’s focusing on [specific goal]. Sorry."
  • Meredith Binowitz wrote: "Good to hear from you. I don’t KNOW of anyone actively working on that but I imagine that Contrafazzione and Subtle Products have seriously considered it."
  • Mauricio Huppman (from Subtle Products, remember) wrote: "I have never come across anything like this. I'll copy our forgery product manager in case this rings any bells with him."
  • I also sent an email to Drew Davidson from Steel Industries. I haven't heard back from him yet.
  • Also, wrote a couple weeks ago on a different matter to some people from Contrafazzione, whom I met at [Industry Conference West]. I haven't heard back from them yet either. But I suspect if they were working on it, another one of these players would have heard something.
Hi Paul,

Yesterday and today, I've been thinking about pulling together a team. I realize that one of my biggest laments of late is being alone, inventing it all by myself. What it is, seems to be morphing. But I feel a major shift going on inside of me, from wanting a job, wanting someone to hire me, to guide me, to direct me, to being the one in charge, to creating the challenge, pulling together the people, summoning the inspiration.

I've begun to think of myself as directing an effort to transform [Applied Research Field]. I'm thinking of a Manhattan Project for setting the industry ahead. I have latched on to this challenge of [specific goal] as a motivator for change. Progress in the domain of forgery and certification has been slowed by the ever-more-limited scope of those working on the problems. If they won't have me on their team, perhaps it's time to form my own. (Some of this may sound like the Runt asserting himself, but it doesn't feel like a six year old's ideas and plan.)

I feel an urge to draw a disparate crew of people, from various backgrounds, together in attacking the problems. I've made a few phone calls, or sent emails, as feelers. I feel the drag of waiting for them to get back to me. But I'm doing my best not to worry about it. I've been diving into the work as well, the analysis, and some brainstorming for the sorts of tools I'll need to make this a reality.

I'm thinking of trying to pull together a sort of brainstorming retreat, that I would sponsor, to get the various people together for a few days, away from distractions. I'm thinking maybe I could rent a condo or cabin somewhere, for three or four days. I'd put them up. If I can swing it, maybe I'd even get them tickets (I've got about four frequent flyer tickets, so it might not be such a deal). We're not talking a great many people, on the order of 5 or 6. I'll have to look over the budget, and discuss details with Rocket before moving ahead, but I think it's doable. The idea would be to see if such a hodge-podge could congeal into a team, capable of forming a company. What would it take to get them all moving as a team? What would it take to get all of us salaries, and an office, and the necessary equipment? Is that a business plan? The next problem (next?) would be getting the startup cash to get moving. Where do I go for that? No idea.

Rocket's a bit taken aback with the whirlwind of my thinking. As she admits, she's slower to change than I. Am I changing too much, too fast? I'd been thinking about [specific goal] as a longer term project, 5-10 years to start up a company. But I'm thinking now that it will take some time to develop the product; why wait to get started? What have I really to gain? The point is, I think the problems will be solved by getting a crew of dedicated and intelligent people together. I could work slowly, gaining knowledge of what others are doing, but that might not help me much. Or, I could forge ahead with cultivated naivety, forgetting to ask whether any of this is possible. Sometimes, even the impossible is possible.

The one thing I've made clear to Rocket is that the one thing I will not risk losing is my family, is her, and my boys. She understands that, and accepts it. She really doesn't know what to make of me right now, but I think she's behind me, understanding that we've got far more to gain, than to lose.

Good Morning Articulate,

Wow! Some exciting stuff here. Responses below.

-->the Runt asserting himself<--
The "runt" may or may not be asserting himself. You may or may not be making a choice that let's the runt know that you will take care of him. The key is to make sure that you are not doing this to right the wrongs that were done to that runt....or to get back at the people who did those wrongs. That's an adrenaline fueled will exhaust you in the long run. It doesn't seem to me like this is the case, but keep an eye on it. Motivation matters. What's yours?

-->Where do I go for that? No idea.<--
Me neither, but we'll figure it out. This is how big things start. Couple of people sit in an office and say...."No idea, let's get started." Next thing you know, they're reviewing a marketing plan. Self promotion moment. If you decide to bring in a facilitator, please let me know so I can throw my name in the hat. Seriously, I love doing this type of stuff. Really juicy for me...and I'm pretty good at it if I do say so myself. OK, back to you...

-->cultivated naivety ... Sometimes, even the impossible is possible.<--
Pay attention to this: How can I use this experience to fuel my career ambitions AND create more peace and harmony in my home? Notice the emphasis on "and" in the questions. We often fall into the trap of believing that it's one or the other. Work satisfaction or harmony at home. It's not. You can have both.

Go get 'em, Tiger. This is exciting stuff.

Best, Paul
I think back to something Tasse Plein once said to me, that while I was sitting by the phone, miserably waiting for it to ring, it wasn't too much of stretch to imagine me avoiding the phone, in hopes to put off the decision between multiple offers a little while longer. All I can say is... time's have changed!


BrightStar said...

You don't sound manic to me. You sound more hopeful and more interested in taking back control of your professional pursuits.

What Now? said...

Wow -- I love the confidence you've got! And I do think it's true, as your coach said, that lots of big things start by a couple of folks kicking around ideas and then being willing to act on them.


Lilian said...

Yes, very exciting!