Designing the ideal ‘job’

After five years as CEO of The Filter, I stepped down on 1st September 2012. I am really proud of what the team and I achieved over that time; specifically signing up deals with giants like British Telecom, Warner Bros., Vudu/Walmart, NBC, Dailymotion and the rest. And with the company now turning a profit and growing at a steady pace, it was time for me to find a new adventure. After so many years of extreme focus, I was keen to step back and see what else was going on out there.

My initial thoughts on what I should do next, were very much tram-lined into finding a new full time job.  Contacting recruiters, looking at job ads, etc… I was simply conditioned to replace like with like. And, as luck would have it, I had a couple of offers within days, which forced me to make a decision and think hard about what I wanted to do next.

Before deciding, a couple of friends and I went on a long weekend to the south of France for some end of season sunshine. They too were in transition and flux at work and, it is thanks to them that I started to see things more clearly. Over the last 10+ years I have always had a very clear vision of what my ideal job would look like. Always talking about this ideal with family and friends. Dreaming about it even. And now I had the opportunity to make it happen for real.

I came up with my ideal ‘job’ whilst on a long weekend in Nice with two of my best friends.

So, when I got home, I went about designing my ideal job.

First off, my ideal job is not a job. Well not in the traditional sense. What I want to do is make a living by getting involved with interesting people, products and businesses and then to use the experience and learnings from that involvement to help others along their way. So, kind of a symbiotic mesh of everything you can experience and learn from making things happen with great inputs and valuable outputs.

If that makes no sense to you, another way of explaining my ideal is by defining it as a balanced equation with the following elements:

(a) Making things happen: getting my hands dirty on a project basis developing & then executing on a strategy, delivering real value to interesting businesses with great people

(b) Helping others make things happen: mentoring, advising, being a sounding board, providing intros, developing strategy…

(c) Learning and helping others learn from making things happen: using my experiences by passing on any useful lessons to those who would value them

(d) My Precious Time: to be spent with people I love doing things that make me smile.

Ok, so this all sounds lovely and my UK-based friends will think that my thoughts have been influenced by spending too much time in California. But the proof is going to be in the pudding. And so far, in just a few weeks I have started on a short-term project with VisualDNA, a non-Exec advisory role for a startup in stealth mode, a teaching assignment at the UK’s third best University (yes, University of Bath is now only just behind Oxbridge in the rankings). That’s the first three elements of my equation catered for. As for the fourth, and most precious, I have turned Fridays into ‘me’ days. I use them for a mixture of catching up with friends, doing sport, taking a CS course and spending some time with my wife and kids.

It is early days, I know, but I am determined to enjoy this new ‘job’. The variety and the balance. I want to prove to myself that you can design the ideal job if you believe that you can. I will post an update in a few months’ time to report back on how it’s going.

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One response to “Designing the ideal ‘job’

  1. Best of luck David. Sounds like my ideal job too, and ironically working full-time at Etherbooks has got me the closest I have come to that ideal. OK, I don’t get Friday’s off, but I often work from home and am getter quality time to help others out. It’s much more about the people around you and opportunities they give you than any “job” spec.

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