My New Hat
This is my new hat, courtesy Molly Dove, which I debuted at the Cornell Club housewarming a few weeks ago. I've come to really like it. It's hip but not too hip. Nerdy but not too nerdy. It keeps my head surprisingly warm, the sun off my face, and I can choose whether to sport it at a jaunty rakish angle or straight-ahead squaresville. I think it's quite fetching.
It's also a good one for the figurative "hat" I wear at my job. For the first year and a half of our bootstrappy startup we operated under an implied "everyone does everything" organizational strategy. This works when it's just the three of you, and it's good for keeping managerial overhead down and equality high, but ultimately people have talents, and these are distributed unequally. Specialization is necessary at some point if we're to grow.
For the first year of our work I had an informal (and largely unwanted) authority position as the oldest and most business-experienced member of the team. It was not the greatest fit as I have no particular desire to be the boss, and I haven't been living in the same town as my partners. It was what it was and I'm glad things worked out as well as they did, but nevertheless I'm happy that things are changing.
To wit, the defined roles are going to emerge. I'll be working more and more on the technical side of things; not necessarily writing more code directly, but taking designated responsibility for the code that our (eep!) employees will be crafting. Matt has already taken over the general operational management of the business, as his personal drive and passion for todo lists makes him a natural fit there. Zack is returning to his strong suit of evangelism and high-level Drupal architecture; he'll be out in front of our clients and working in pair with more (eep!) employees in the office to guide them through implementations and up the learning curve.
I think it's a good way to break things down. We all have our own power positions. Matt keeps everyone on-task, Zack controls the relationships that drive our bottom line, and I get to draft the code that's ultimately what we're selling. It's also going to make it possible for us to grow up in a meaningful way. As I mentioned, more employees are on their way, and a Humboldt County office could well materialize over the summer. In spite of all the economic doom and gloom, we're expanding!
All of which is making the job more exciting again, which is nice. I still need a vacation, but feeling excited about the future prospects -- rather than being in the "grind it out" mode -- is a much needed and welcome change.