To millennials, with love (part 1)
Why you should not quit your job just yet.
‘I was offered the CMO position at the largest Latin American ecommerce company. It’s an exciting and a unique time to join an internet company. I have decided to accept their offer.’ I told my father. He was shocked but I was a determined 25 year old. It ended my first job and a promising career at my family’s highly successful retail company. That decision in the summer of 1999 changed my life and I’m a VC today because I made that jump 17 years ago.
Since the late nineties, the world spins faster with every year that passes. Technology is changing the face of every industry and transforming how we think about careers. Today, 25 year olds face an ultra-connected, vertiginous environment that makes them need to switch jobs to keep up or risk falling off the edge of the world. They feel out if they stay put, just like their mobile phone or social media account feels after a couple of years. If change is illogical, there is always the fantasy that changing is just part of the new normal. So it’s ok to change organizations with every new iPhone update. Baloney!
If you are a millennial, chances are you are thinking of changing your job pretty soon or you are about to resign. Nowadays, change seems to be the default position and I am convinced it shouldn’t be. As I think about my career and the careers I have been lucky to cross and influence, here are some strong reasons to resist the urge of change.
You are still learning
If anything else, how much you learn should guide your career and academic decisions. Your value as a professional or an entrepreneur will always be a function of what you have internalized about each of your professional experiences and how you apply it to your next challenge. Time and repetition are paramount to that process, in particular with soft skills. I love my job because I still feel nervous before an investment committee, I still feel lost when advising a founder, I’m still surprised by companies’ outcomes and I still make bad decisions. I’m still learning.
You found a mentor
Genuine mentors are few and far between. It’s not a boss you admire or try to emulate. It’s not someone assigned to you by HR or somone you choose by surfing Linkedin. Rather, she is someone who chooses you and decides to nurture your career. Mentors truly and passionately think about what’s best for your growth. They believe in your potential more that anybody and think about your future as much as their own. If you found her, don’t leave. You will regret returning that gift. Most of us never get that lucky.
You are happy
You know happiness at work involves many many random things: your space, your commute, the company intranet, your colleagues, the people you interact with every day, the next door coffee shop, the school you cross on your way. Like any random complex combination, it’s very difficult to predict how you will feel in your next job. Happiness is nothing but disconnected periods in your life when you feel at home in the world. When you find yourself in a happy place, make sure you’re there as long as possible.
At the end of the day where we work and what we build is all about our contribution to a community, large or small. Most people need to seek meaning outside of work because most jobs are not that meaningful. Some give you prestige, others money but meaning is difficult to find. As VCs, we help founders change the world for the better. Even if the odds are against them, the feeling of having a positive impact is the biggest reward. We are lucky to work hard for an improbable but positive future. If your organization makes good and your contribution is important and valued, you should feel as lucky as we feel everyday.
‘They made me an offer that I cannot refuse back in Mexico. I appreciate everything I have learned at L’Oréal but it’s time for me to move on.’ I said to the HR VP that had brought me to the Paris headquarters from Spain. He was frustrated but I was an impatient 31 year old. I was still learning and I was happy in Paris. That spring of 2006 decision led to the most difficult years in my life.’
If you feel determined but you found a mentor or you are still learning, you should stay no matter how much money or prestige you are offered. If you feel impatient but you are happy or your work matters, you should stay however your resume may look like after you leave. And believe me, if you don’t take that bright exit to your right, you are not missing out no matter how fast the world is changing, no matter how many peers take the plunge.
The unexpected will happen if you jump but the beautiful may only come when you hold still. If you don’t believe me, just look at the stars.