I didn't realize how much these sort of success factors impact culture and behavior until I came to work for Socialtext. In other words, if you aren't a great culture fit for your current environment, there might be a reason. When you look for the next place, consider these factors carefully.
3. Autonomy and choice are undervalued in North American business culture.
If you can work for a company that values these things, take the job . If you have an opportunity to lead a company and to add some of these things, do it . And, consider it a blessing.
4. Test setup should be cheap, quick and easy.
Disk space is cheap. CPU time is cheap. Virtualization is cheap. What is expensive is human time spent testing or waiting for a server to spool up. If you can't spool up your very own test server, load it up with a reasonable amount of data, and get to a good testing point in around fifteen minutes or less, beware, because your competition probably can.
5. What you are doing now is a season of your life.
Seasons last for a little while. Eventually, they end. That means that the things you hate about your current season will eventually end, so rejoice.
The bad news is that some of the things you enjoy may end too, so enjoy them while they last.
I'm not a hedonist; I am not saying we should pursue pleasure for its own sake, only that we can find enjoyment and meaning in the moment as we experience it, instead of always planning the next big thing. (As an achiever, this was a hard lesson for me to learn, but it was worth learning.)
6. All of this is going to end.
Yes, we may get to work on a few big projects. You may one day look back at something special and say, "I contributed to that!" But, ten years from now, it is unlikely that anyone will remember that story you worked on to “add middle name to profile and display it on a half-dozen pages.”
However, we can hang our hats on our reputations and relationships. A huge part of why I pushed myself so hard at Socialtext—right next to building a great product—was the people in the trenches next to me—people like Luke Closs, Ken Pier, Audrey Tang, Chris McMahon, Jeremy Stashewsky, and Brandon Noard. I wanted to impress them.
If you are stuck on a dead-end project, if the application isn't cool, or if the business isn't great, take a look to your left and right. Ask what you can do to belong to a group like C.S. Lewis’s " sound craftsmen ," who “will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain.”
Ten years from now, your company might be gone. But, If you really care, I suspect those relationships will still be around.
7. Be thankful for what you have.
There's nothing quite like waking up one morning and realizing you don't have a job. Wait, yes, there is. There is not knowing where you will get food for your children, clean water, clothing, or shelter.
When Socialtext let me go earlier this year, I was perfectly poised to launch a freelance software career. If that didn’t work out, I still had my investments and retirement. If I needed it, I could have applied for unemployment benefits for additional income. Things