Years and years and years ago I was privileged to attend a small QnA session with Bill Gates when he was still Chief Architect for Microsoft. I was a new Microsoft Regional Director eager to make a difference in the world. For some reason I was too shy to ask a question myself – and I hung back and soaked in the reality of the situation. Someone, however, managed to ask a question that I was hoping would be asked during the QnA session: “What has been the most important thing you’ve learned at Microsoft?” Bill, in his usual mannerism, deeply considered the question (as he did with every question) as he held one of the world’s first tablet computers in his hand he said “… there is only one constant in the universe – and that constant is change.” Palm smack to the forehead. Of course he was correct – that’s been the underpinning ingredient to all success I had ever experienced or witnessed. In fact, I remember telling others that I believed that personal success is not about what you know – but how fast you learn – and more importantly – how fast you are willing to completely throw away what you learn in order to learn something entirely different. A HUGE part of learning is to know when you need to adapt – self-awareness.
I’m blessed in many ways. I’m healthy – and I have a loving and supportive wife and family. I’m also very self-aware and very willing to throw it all away and learn new things. For those reasons I am announcing that I am leaving Telerik for some new adventures effective Friday, August 9, 2013.
I am leaving Telerik for a few reasons. First, I feel that my mission is complete. When I started working with Telerik the organization was beginning a more holistic adoption of Agile. I worked to help Telerik adopt Agile across the organization and was a catalyst for the organization to start using Customer Development practices help make the entire organization Agile. I also pushed hard to bring an end-to-end ALM mindset to the organization – working to help think more holistically about the Telerik platform in the perspective of ALM as opposed to individual products. I also wanted to experience more product based startup cultures – and I had an opportunity for this in two areas – first, by working as an “internal startup” within Telerik as well as working as a mentor for AcceleratorHK – founded and run by Stephen Forte. Seeing the world through the eyes of a startup really changed my perspective on how companies (and even new ideas within existing companies) need to grow and mature to be viable and successful. Another one of my missions when I started with Telerik was to help get Telerik recognized by Gartner and placed on Gartner’s ALM quadrants. Looking back I can only say “Mission accomplished!” The second reason for leaving Telerik is due to my 3-year itch. For some reason, I buy a new vehicle every 3 years (I’ve owned 14 vehicles since I was 16 years old) because I get the itch. I love change – I love the unknown. I love paving new paths. I’m a “starter” – and get the itch when I’m not initiating or in the middle of dramatic change – and I get bored easily. I actually started working with Telerik by building the Telerik Work Item Manager and Project Dashboard all the way back in 2008!!! In reality, I’m one year past my 3-year itch. Time for a change.
Let me address some natural speculation.
I am not leaving Telerik because of any dissatisfaction with Telerik in any way. I am in LOVE with Telerik and its people. The future is so exciting and bright at that company that I’ve had to wear sunglasses for the last 3.5 years. The company oozes goodness. I was first introduced to Telerik through Stephen Forte (Telerik CSO and longtime friend) on a hike to Everest Basecamp. The hike sparked a deep friendship with Vassil Terziev, Telerik’s coCEO, and I can only attest to that friendship being as strong as ever. I initially came to Telerik to see if the organization could leverage my knowledge and insight of Application Lifecycle Management (ALM), Agile, and Lean to help take Telerik from a UI controls company to the company you see today (and will see much more of in the future). This role was not without its challenges and frustrations I assure you – but since I began working with Telerik I have seen nothing but positive change throughout the organization – some of it measured in small steps.. some of it measured in giant leaps and I am super proud to have been a part of the organization for as long as I have. Telerik provided me with challenges I would have never experienced anywhere else on the planet. It also provided me with a chance to be even more critical of my own career journey and helped disrupt the comfort of my existing knowledge and career. If anything, Telerik has shown me how a company “should” work – and I’m super proud and privileged to have been a part of it.
So, what’s next?
In 1997 I helped form a company called Imaginet. While I was there I helped lay the foundation for Imaginet to become one of the largest and most successful Microsoft ALM companies on the planet (among a wealth of other Microsoft centric services). While I was at Telerik, Imaginet was awarded the best Small to Medium Sized Employer in Canada – as well as winning Microsoft Global ALM Partner of the Year awards – pretty cool. With that said, Imaginet has been a large part of my life for 17 years and I’m going back there to help take that company into the stratosphere – helping to continue what I started and left behind while at the same time doing what I do best. I’m going to focus my time on growth hacking the Imaginet worldwide business by applying the customer development techniques I have been working to perfect, as well as help take the company into new areas of service and innovation (more on that soon). Even though Imaginet is a services-based organization it has sparked a large number of very cool startups based on its innovation and ability to build amazing software. Not only do I get the privilege of once again being part of a company I helped conspire to create – I also get to be involved in helping its spin off businesses grow and succeed – companies and innovation I only got to watch and envy from the sidelines.
Everything comes and goes in cycles. Change is good – its healthy and I embrace it. I want to thank everyone at Telerik for being so darn good at what they do and helping to bring some needed humility to my life and career.
(Deep breath… )