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On the road again

Knowing when to walk through one door and on to another

I spent six hours driving Andrew’s car for Lyft today.  I made $57.  And it was fabulous.  I met a casual gamer, two servers (one of which left her keys in my car and had to have them returned), a mechanic and a family of four (with one on the way).  I saw the suburbs of Beverly Hills, the 1950’s appeal of the Santa Monica Pier and the dusty grit of El Centro.  I spoke and listened.  But mostly I just drove. 

Two weeks ago, I decided to conclude a commitment with a company I had done consulting work for.  They came to me with a losing business plan six months ago, and I told them it was a loser.  When they asked what I’d propose to turn it into a winner, I told them my thoughts.

They liked my approach, so they asked me to do some consulting work for them, and I suggested acquiring my old company the day it closed its doors. And then they offered me a full-time job, five days later, with a higher base salary than I have ever been offered, plus bonus and benefits.

I began to work for this company, and quickly saw that it had many legacy issues.  The business has been around for a long time.  But slowly, it has begun to lose revenue.  The board draws serious compensation (some earning more than even I was offered), and one or more of the board members tends to hire his friends, whether they are appropriate for the job or not (more often the case). 

When I began to move forward on the steps we would need to take to run a successful business, based upon the vision they hired me for, management and (some) board members stood in my way, every step of the way.

It became stunningly clear to me after three months with this company that they never intended to execute against my vision, my business model.  And so, with no drama or debate, and as a fiduciary to the company, I suggested that they not pursue the business, that they continue doing exactly what they were doing before they hired me, and that I should resign to alleviate the pressure on the monthly burn.

I had no plan or back-up job waiting when I made this decision, but I had the support of Andrew and several of my closest friends. 

I needed to find a way to pay our very expensive rent, so I signed up to drive for Lyft and began to reach out to some former clients to begin consulting work again. 

And then I came back alive.

The morning after I resigned, I woke up feeling euphoric.  Such relief.  I had been so concerned that I had simply taken a job for the money.  That I had sold out.  And I couldn’t sleep for weeks before I finally suggested my resignation.  I came home crying every night.  Not because any one person was bad.  But because I knew that I would not provide the value I had been hired to build.

And then last week, as a free agent again, I revisited many of my old friends in San Diego.  Friends who have successfully run a number of businesses.  Friends who are only starting out.  And friends who have struggled for years, only to begin to find their own silver linings in their business plans. 

This is where I want to be.  If six months traveling the world has taught me anything, it has taught me that every single day is a gift from God.  We can choose to celebrate and honor it by living our best possible life, or we can wilt in fear…of the unknown…of expectations.  Whether I launch my own business concept again some day or ultimately simply drive for others, I will live this day in gratitude and happiness.

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