Hello, I’m back sooner than you or I expected. Going forward, I will be sending out this newsletter on the first weekend of every month. So mark your calendars, stick a note on the door, or etch it into the wall in blood (however you remember things, I don’t know, we all have our systems).
I left my job at General Assembly this week. It was seven-and-a-half years since I started there. I sound like a broken record but it was truly a unique experience. It was time to leave, it was probably time to leave two years ago. So it goes.
Like an old tree that grows around, and eventually absorbs, an object in its path - a traffic cone, a wall, a dead fox; I had internalised an ownership of the company, a guilt, that I didn’t need to.
It feels good to step away.
People ask me what lessons I learned. So many, but perhaps the most important is that so much of a startup’s culture is set in the first 12 months. The minute an organisation starts to gain traction, little decisions fold themselves into the culture. Our culture was wrapped up in the “hustle hard, all work and no play” ethos of the early 2010s.
I have never been able to watch “Silicon Valley” because it was too close to the actual truth.
The place I’m going next is the opposite (or at least appears to be from the outside). In seven short years we’ve moved beyond the toxic startup culture we all idealised and aspired to. Topics like “parental leave” and “work/life balance” came up a lot in the interviews I did. It’s a significant change and one that is well needed.
A quick piece of housekeeping before we get started.
A reminder, from January this email will only be available through the UX Writer’s Collective. I’ll be sending out this email and one more in December. If you would like to carry on receiving this email beyond the end of the year you’ll need to sign up to a new email list.
After that, blissful silence. Maybe you’d prefer that. I’m not judging. It worked for John Cage