A New Chapter: SF

My mom always said the world is huge and “it’s like being a frog looking up at the sky from the bottom of a well”. I’m writing now, on a plane, on my way to San Francisco to take on a new project. After working in Northern Virginia for AddThis.com for over 7.5 years, I realized that it was time for a change.

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When I first joined AddThis (originally called “Clearspring” at the time), the company had just received its series B funding and was hiring people left and right. I was among the first 30-ish employees that they hired. During that time, I helped to build, scale and a company. I also saw a lot of change.

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What’s seems contradictory about this move is that I was very happy with my AddThis and everything around me. I walked to work nearly every day, my job catered lunch, and I enjoyed living close to my family. The pay was good, and I could afford to surround myself with nice things without feeling burnt out or ever needing a real vacation.

So why change things “if it ain’t broken”? I think at the end of the day, I needed two satisfy 3 things:

1. I needed to co-found a company. Being involved earlier would give me a chance to play a bigger part in creating the culture and experiencing everything from the front lines.

2. I needed to take more risks. I had to be a part of something that could have the potential of a tremendous payout in the future.

3. I needed to be challenged. I needed to be around people better than me, that could push me to do better work. I needed a new network of peers that could sculpt me into becoming a sharper and more creative professional.

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I needed to be at the mecca of all of this, and all the signs pointed to San Francisco. I didn’t need another job, I needed a project that was mine—something I could truly call my own project.

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I’m not sure if I’ll be much happier if I had all these things, but I have a feeling that taking some risks now may have a bigger payout in the future. And, at the end of the day, I’ll be working about the same amount of time and putting the same amount of effort. The main delta at the moment is that I have to downsize, and I’ll have to put more effort into making time to spend with my family and girlfriend. The distance and time zones will certainly make it challenging. The key will be to find balance at some point in the future.

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On a side note, one of my closest friends, Mark Smith, died last year around this time, and he left with me with a bit of sound advice, “get out of the rat game sooner than later”. He lived to 64 and worked until the day he died. As he got closer to retirement, he became a slave to his own success. He said that if he could do it all over again, he would have loved to get out by the age of 50.

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So, here I am on a plane, ready to start a new chapter. I hope that I look back one day and know that I made the right choice. I’d like to thank AddThis for a wonderful chapter. As I head west, I will take all the lessons you’ve taught me. As I step out of this small well, I hope to explore the world and blaze new trails.