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Sara Morgan e-mailed me to ask if I could tell any stories about self-employment for inclusion in her upcoming book, “No Limits: How I escaped corporate America to live the life of my dreams.” I laughed and told her that I’m actually very much in corporate [North] America, having joined IBM fresh out of graduate school a little over a year and a half ago. People often think I’m self-employed or an independent consultant. I guess they think I’m much too happy to be working for a large company. <grin>
Big companies have gotten quite a bad rap. Job security? Health benefits? Retirement plans? Lots of things have been scaled back. The benefits that used to differentiate large companies from small companies or self-employment seem to have dwindled. On the flip side, technology and society make it easier for people to start their own companies and provide products or services to a global market, so it’s even easier now to get into the risks and rewards of entrepreneurship.
I didn’t join my company for job security. I joined it because I wanted to work with these absolutely amazing people all around the world, and because I believed that we could make a difference in the way companies and people work, at a scale much larger than I could do by myself. After one and a half years, one worldwide economic shock, and lots of friends now at different companies, self-employed, or retired, I’m even more passionate, more engaged, and more amazed that I have these opportunities to make a difference.
What is it like to work in a large company? You probably don’t hear many good things in blogs or news. It seems fashionable to complain, or to hunker down and just get through. So let me tell you what I love about my work, and maybe you’ll recognize some of your own company in it.
I love the people I get to work with all over the world. When I think about how much my mentors have shared with me, when I think of all the talents sprinkled through the organization, when I think of how people are looking out for me and helping me learn, I feel just absolutely privileged to be in the same company, to have the same overall goals, and to share so much common ground with them. I can’t wait to help as many people as I can, and I’m so lucky that the same infrastructure that helps me discover and meet all these inspiring people is also the same platform for me to try to reach out and help others along the way.
I love the work we get to do and how it helps me grow. I hear stories about the big projects that people work on, things that save lives and make difficult things easier. For me, even with the small project I’m working on, there’s always something new to learn every day, and there’s always something little I can teach others. I care about what I’m building, and it helps me learn how to build even bigger systems.
I love it just because I do. It’s easy to get weighed down by other people’s fears, anxieties, and complaints. But work is such a large chunk of life, so I may as well look for and maximize the things I enjoy about it!
I might try working with a small business sometime, and I’ve got endless lists of businesses I would love to try myself. But while I’m here in corporate (North) America, I’m going to be completely here, and I’m going to totally rock it. =) If I change that situation, it won’t be because I’ve let the situation grind me down into misery, it’ll be because I think that change would make life even better. Won’t that be a fun experiment?
And no, this isn’t just because I’m new around here. I know some people who are still like this after decades, and I think that’s absolutely amazing. No matter which path I end up taking, I hope to grow up to be like them.
I’m living the life of my dreams, and my dreams just keep getting better and better. I don’t think of myself as ambitious. I’m already happy and successful. I’m just driven by curiosity: how awesome can things be, and how can I help others along the way?