This may be a bit rambling but I tried to keep it stream-of-consciousness. I'm answering a question on my intrinsic motivation and why I'm going the entreprenerial route.
You may have noticed this blog seems to go through phases. They mimic my creative phases. Sometimes I'm deeper and more creative than other times. I'm currently in a pretty intensive saturation phase. Which is another way of saying (excusing) this isn't going to be as much as an intimate voice post as I'd like. It's hard for me to stay connected to my heart when I'm so totally consumed by my beta-brain-waves. The good news is that this particular intense concentration phase is coming to its natural conclusion.
I've been reading and immersing myself in a topic for the last ten days without much of a reprieve. Even some of my meditative rituals (read: running) have come to a screeching halt. Yeah, I can get pretty focused. In an email message I sent out at 4 a.m. one morning, the recepient wrote to me the next day: When do you sleep?
But I have some strange peculiar or maybe not so peculiar creative cycles. You have to remember just prior to this intensive ten-day-shut-in, I'd been hiking solo in the horizonless expanse of Canyonlands and Arches National Park away from the hub-bub of cellphones, laptops and even people for days on in. And the drive to and from Utah was itself meditative and incubating. And it's typical for me to take several European style holidays in one year. I vacationed in Ireland and the U.K. three weeks this summer and spent seven weeks last winter in Mexico and Guatemala. Workaholic I'm not. And I goof off a lot of days in between ;-)
I respect what works for me. Which is fairly bursty in nature. After my clarity retreat post where I outlined the creative process stages, I received a few emails that seemed to validate this was more universal.
Jeremy Heigh, an economist, said that he thought this could be true of economic cycles as well. I think and I'm not the only one that's postulated that the origins of the blogosphere itself (um, quite a lot of time on many folks' hands to write posts helps) and a lot of what you'll see arise as Web 2.0 came out of that fallow time called the dot-com downturn. The industry itself has had time to incubate - both collectively and individually.
I've never felt that I could work within my own natural creative cycles in a corporate environment. I was once dinged pretty heavily in my annual employee review at GE for being consistently five to ten minutes late to work. It was an entry-level engineering position and no one else's work came to screeching standstill in those few minutes. I was never and will never be an 8-to-5 gal and be creative. Or an eighty-hour-a-week gal (gee, I get to choose which 80?) and be creative either.
But while I watched the clock and couldn't wait to head out the door at 5 (usually a pipe dream in technology though), I notice now with no one intimidating me with threats of what would happen if I didn't show up on yet another Saturday I find myself choosing to work at 4 a.m. sometimes. And I'm drafting this post on a Sunday evening.
And all the difference in the world is what is called intrinsic motivation.
I also took three years off (that means for me less than 20 hours a week average, not watching Oprah for three years) from 2001 to 2004. My role models for ultra-long incubations are Henry David Thoreau, Buckminster Fuller and Isaac Newton. Bill Gates even goes off on 'think weeks'. (Mine are a bit more like un-think weeks.) It's pretty clear that those three years were a BIG BIG incubation time with smaller iterations of the cycles of saturation-incubation-illumination-translation nested within.
Leaving corporate America and consulting I found wasn't the silver bullet. Yes, I have much more autonomy around my creative cycles but ultimately it gets frustrating to hear: "Yes, but." Usually, "Yes, but that will never work here" time after time after time. And you know with that attitude it truly won't ever work there. Those pitches weren't even my very best ideas as I was well aware of the confines of the box I was given. So having autonomy over your creative cycles ultimately isn't sufficient. A lot of consultants might be quite happy with collecting the fees for advice that falls flat and concepts that go nowhere, but it's not working for me.
That's basically some of the backstory for how I came up with the start-up idea. I realized I would take everything that corporations de-valued and everything creative, innovative people value and their customers value and make that the foundation for a new model that wasn't inspired by factory production model for black Model-T's. Part of my barrier to entry (just one) are the fact that most corporations think like Electronic Arts.
The conceptual age isn't even remotely resembling a factory.
And I've always been inspired by Nipun Mehta's weekly ritual of giving for the sake of giving. I was given an incredible gift of three years to be clear about who I am and my purpose. And in some small way I'd like to give that opportunity to others. And that's the biggest intrinsic motivator - at least for me.
So if you are expecting the dot-com dream of an IPO windfall to rescue the ground floor employees and finally deliver the life they always wanted at the end of this unfolding story, then this isn't going to be intensely interesting. But if on the other hand, you wonder what a vibrant creative economy and the individuals within it might look like and what living the life you want moment to moment looks like, well then, stay tuned.