This past Wednesday seemed like any other standard work day. I got up, had a cup of coffee, walked the dog, got cleaned up, and went to work. Decided on a whim to switch things up and go across the lake to the Kirkland office to see the folks over there. We had an org all-hands meeting to go over priorities for the new year. I moved some project work forward. I had a sync up with a colleague to go over taking over some of his responsibilities as his management duties had recently expanded. Then I grabbed coffee with another friend and called it a day, as I wanted to beat rush hour traffic back across Lake Washington.
Wednesday night, again the usual routine. Dog walk and chat with the neighbor. Make dinner. Conversation with my spouse. Some quiet reading on the couch, as I’ve recently rediscovered the joy of books and I’m voraciously reading again. Around 8pm, the dog wants to go out in the yard, so we go out for a bit. While she sniffs around and smells for squirrels and raccoons, I check my email on my phone. Wait, what?! What the fuck is this email from Google People Operations?!
Well fuck, that’s a real kick in the nuts, isn’t it? For a moment I wondered if had I gone into my proper office, would I have been told in person? Would I have gotten a kind handshake, time to pack up my things, and an escort out of the building? No, sadly those days are long gone. A quick check of the socials showed that thousands of us all got laid off in one fell swoop around 6pm. While I had been expecting another round of layoffs, much like the Spanish Inquisition, their key element is surprise.
Once I got over the initial shock of the news, I found that I was actually kind of relieved. I’ve done thirty years in technology, with over half of those years spent in big tech. It all gets really old after a while and I’ve been doing a bunch of thinking about shifting focus to the things that I want to do.
If my career is a three act play, Act I (the setup) was all the job hopping and progress I made during the Dot Com boom. Act II (the confrontation/build) started when I got laid off when the Dot Com bubble burst in 2002 and went right through my time at Amazon and Google, wherein I worked hard and learned how the tech giants work. I think now I’m entering Act III (the payoff), where I get to enjoy the fruits of my labors and allow myself the freedom to do the things that I want to do.
What’s next for me? I’ve got some passion projects that live in the intersection of art, craft, and technology that I want to develop into limited edition releases. I’m not completely ready to give up working, so I’ll be doing some security and devops consulting. I might also see if I can do some adjunct instruction on security, networking, and systems. I’d like to help guide the next generation of security folks, both with the technology but also with establishing a healthy relationship with their careers.
I’m really excited about this new phase for me. It’s going to be a lot more frugal without big tech money coming in, but I can already feel my spirit starting to heal and my creativity coming back. Stay tuned for (likely irregular) updates on the progress.