I’ve always believed that there are many things more important than tech and always viewed tech as an enabler for other things in life. That doesn’t mean that I never had a passion for technology, because I certainly did, at one point in my career. In the first five years of my career, tech was new to me, interesting, and making the world a better place. But now, from where I sit, we’re just building dopamine machines to feed capitalism.
Likes, Re-Tweets, Follower Count, Replies - how much of it really matters in the end? For me, what truly matters is the relationships I’ve built along the way, the lives I’ve touched, the time I’ve spent with my wife and son. I too fall victim to the dopamine machine, trying to do what I can on Twitter to get more followers and retweets. It’s unfortunate, but we’ve put billions of Dollars into the hands of brilliant Software Engineers to make this stuff more addicting - and in tech, we’re really good at doing what we set out to do.
In the end though all we’ve done is make the VCs, some founders, and high level engineers very wealthy, while slowly eroding our attention spans and eating into the family lives of hundreds of millions, maybe billions of people.
Am I saying everything we do in tech is wrong, no, but I’m saying a large part of the industry that is fetishized for their large salaries are solely focusing on getting more of your attention, your time, your dollars. This runs counter to my mental model of the world, so it’s time for me to figure out how to get off this train.
Bug Out Bag
It’s not unusual for senior level tech folks to have a bug out bag for their careers. They know that they’re going to hit a level of burnout eventually that is going to require them to get out of the industry entirely. It’s unfortunate, but also unsurprising. If you look at the level of performance that is expected out of most employees in this industry, you’ll see that it’s just not a sustainable pattern long term.
I can think of two people off the top of my head who have second careers planned and are already working on making them a reality. Josh O’Brien is building his second hand sale empire, bringing in significant income from it. He’s well on his way to bailing out. Then we’ve got Joe Onisick, who is currently learning how to run a cattle ranch, which he intends on turning into a retreat from technology, allowing individuals or teams to digitally detox, while getting to know themselves and their teammates better. He’s literally building a business out of stepping away from tech.
My Exit Plan
So that brings me to my exit plan from the tech industry. I have a five year goal to get out of tech and open an Indoor Air Quality consultancy. I’m working with the brilliant Antoni Tzavelas to help keep me on track and coach me through the transition - and even after only having one call together, it’s clear to me that his support will be clutch.
The company will focus on improving the health of individuals and their families by identifying possible toxins or chemicals in their homes and lifestyles that could contribute negatively to their health. We will focus on customer empathy and really understanding and getting to know the customer’s goals while ensuring that we do everything we can to get them there.
I’m working with my business partner to commission some custom distributed sensors to be built and am scoping out an entire platform around it with the help of Stephen Morgan. These sensors are of my own design and have the ability to report back 14 different air quality metrics with a resolution of 30 seconds. The data will be integral in helping us design remediation plans that are unique to the health outcome goals of the clients.
I’ve always viewed tech as an enabler for other things in my life.
I will be building this company in public over the next 3-5 years. Slowly, thoughtfully, carefully. I want to get things right. I want to be sure that my family is comfortable and isn’t worried about money while I’m building this company - which is where tech being an enabler comes into play. Using tech to enable other things in your life is okay and I honestly encourage it. Kris Nova also has a very good perspective on this.
I want to ensure that my company ethos, mission, and vision align closely with my values and the goal I have in mind for the company - while building it in such a way that ensures long term sustainability. I want to be able to support my employees in such a way that focuses on building a happy and successful career, while also giving them the space to be with their families and loved ones.
I will be contributing all thoughts, drafts, founding docs, and many other items to a public repository here: wesdottoday/iaq-consultancy. Of course, I’ll also be Tweeting about it along the way, and writing about the process here.
This is terrifying, by the way. The idea that I’ll be giving up a great income, with medical benefits, lots of autonomy, and over a decade of knowledge, to start something of my own - but it’ll be worth it. I’d love your support through this journey because there’s no way to make this happen without having a community around me offering support.