Sunil Rajaraman sucks at Ornithology, but he knows the Silicon Valley life really well. If you’ve been there and done it, you will laugh.
You canâ€™t fall back asleep. You reflect. You turn on the Headspace app and give yourself 10 minutes of peace. You have no idea whether meditation works or not. Itâ€™s really boring, and all your mind can think about is Instagram. It feels good, though.
Now you can spend the rest of your sleepless hours looking for new jobs on LinkedIn.
Your last start-up failed. You ran business development. It turns out your 27-year-old CEO, who never ran an enterprise software start-up, ran the company straight into the ground. You reflect for a bit on the reasons why this happened.
Your company had a â€œno egoâ€ and â€œno assholeâ€ hiring policy. He was somehow exempt from both rules.
Open-office concept by David Basulto
Maybe the company failed because, not unlike the companyâ€™s open-office concept, the companyâ€™s databases were open to hackers. Or maybe itâ€™s because you donâ€™t know who was actually doing work. To your knowledge, most of your coworkers were ordering stuff on Amazon, talking about each other on Slack, watching the World Cup, or WFH. The companyâ€™s business model should have been subleasing its $75-square-foot office space on Fridays, since no one showed up.
But life is better now. Forget start-ups; they are not for you. You used to think that life was over. Youâ€™re 35, and you havenâ€™t had an exit. You donâ€™t own a house, but now you tell people that renting is part of your â€œlong-term planâ€ to provide more flexibility. You used to think youâ€™re a failure.
But then you discovered Botox and realize you have more time than you think.
You drop off your kid at elementary school. Parents are part of an intricate social hierarchy. Itâ€™s public school, but somehow you are guilted into a â€œdonationâ€ every quarter. You run into Janice. She got drunk at the parent auction and bid $25,000 for Taylor Swift tickets. A week earlier, Dropbox IPOâ€™d. You do a calculation of her approximate net worth in your head. Drop in the bucket for her. Sheâ€™s now one of the â€œcoolâ€ parents. FML.
Ferdinand is out on the playground again 30 minutes after he dropped off his kid. He likes to chat up any mom who will flirt with himâ€Šâ€”â€Šwith that mesh baseball cap. He doesnâ€™t work. You give him a high five and a bro hug.
You realize high school never ends.
You took a job at a big company. Big, predictableâ€”thatâ€™s what you needed. You commute to Foster City. Way better than San Frat-cisco. You love the faux landfill lake filled with sickly ducksâ€”it inspires you on daily walks. The geese sometimes chase you around and make hissing noises, but so much lower key. You go to a poke place every day for lunch.
Faux Foster City Lake with ducks hanging out
You donâ€™t wear start-up logo hoodies anymore, and you instituted a household ban on Patagonia. Youâ€™ve attempted to read Manâ€™s Search for Meaning multiple times.
You donâ€™t need the excitement anymoreâ€”boring is where itâ€™s at. Your wife is the high flyer now. Her start-up took off. You are the junk bond; she is the high-growth stock. Youâ€™ve accepted your place in the portfolio.
You spend a lot of time in meetings. Meetings create a great rhythm for the day. Especially standing meetings. Youâ€™ve been to three meetings today with the same four people. Maybe you should put your desks together; then the whole day will be a meeting.
That one meeting last week was rough. You closed it out with, â€œThanks, guys.â€ You got reminded by the smug 24-year-old growth managerâ€”whose entire life experience has been comprised of private schools, vacationing in Laguna Beach and deciding what color BMW 3 Series to driveâ€”that you probably offended a large portion of the room by using that term. You vowed to be a better person.
You are standing beneath a company-values sign that reads, â€œHumility above all else!â€