So I'm sitting her writing my first personal blog entry. I'm trying to figure out what to do with my life.
I resigned as president of Women's Money back in December 2016; however, came back with the caveat that the org would need to find another president/CEO. I had said it in September...well before my first resignation. I have found myself diving back into a job I don't like because of obligation motivated by a still strong love and passion for the cause. This week, I told the board that I really am leaving...it's just a matter of time.
It's been an interesting journey figuring out what I want to do and having job interviews for the first time in 20+ years. I have felt lost because, like most founders, I know a little about a lot of jobs. I don't feel like much of an expert in anything. It took me three months with a coach and a resume writer for me to finally say, "Wow, look at the valuable stuff I've done." I'm finally feeling my worth. Now...I know my value, but still have no real direction where to put my talents...a job? another venture? consulting?
I think a job may be where I'm heading. Not so much for financial security, as for comoradorie. As many founders know, especially when staffed by telecommuters, the job is lonely. Founders are fueled by the passion for a cause...not a paycheck, not the people, not the ego, but by the mission to make a difference - to disrupt.
The great news is that my skills are varied. Managing multiple projects is second nature, and adapting and learning new skills is a daily practice. The bad news is that my skills are varied, and this leaves me without expertise except as CEO - Chief Everything Officer. It's a nice ego-boosting title, but the reality is that it can pigeon-hole you and keep you out of consideration for future opportunities that provide growth.
For those of you starting or beginning new ventures, I have a suggestion that takes into account something we think is impossible at the beginning of our beloved venture. Be prepared to be burnt out, to want to fire yourself (multiple times) and start something new, or no longer wanting to be top dog.
Put a six month hiatus for yourself at the five year mark of your business plan. Don't fight me on this. You will need it, or at the very least your co-workers and family will need it. Next, from the beginning place yourself in a position where you CAN take six months off. Hire someone else to be president, COO, CEO, etc. as soon as you can. They will have the ability to think more objectively about progress and strategy, and you can keep control by being Vice President of Mission Development or VP of Engagement, or something that speaks to WHY you started your venture in the first place. This is one of the many, many things I've learned as a founder.
There is something called "Founders Syndrome" and it shows up in different ways in different organizations. No matter what though, it shows up. It always causes strife, stress, and unrest. People told me about Founder's Syndrome, but they'd always use it as a blanket statement for challenging times between a board and a CEO. Never did they have concrete advice for planning how to avoid it in the first place.
Your experience may be different, and maybe you already have a plan to avoid it. If you are a founder of a company, please tell me how you have experience and moved through your challenges. I'm curious, and I'm pretty sure I'm not alone in this. I'd love to learn from you.