Going Against the Grain

There are a lot of people in your life — perhaps family or even friends — who try to give you their “advice” about many things that you do. In less than eight months from now, I will be turning 30 and I somehow figured that by now people would trust that I have things figured out. I was wrong.

In my late teens and early 20s, I had a brief but failed attempt at being an entrepreneur. I was undisciplined and not nearly as hard working as I should have been. I later moved on to work for other companies in the marketing and IT world.

For my entire professional working life — which I’ll say would be in the last ten years — I’ve always felt I was very different from a lot of people. Different in the sense that I felt like I was always going against the grain; following my own path and doing things on my terms. I’ve made many personal decisions on how I handle myself, from how I conduct myself in interviews to how I write my résumé and cover letters. I’ve always wanted to make sure my unique personality comes across in my writing. It doesn’t matter if it’s stuff I post on this weblog, or stuff that goes into a professional résumé.

Loved ones and friends always say the same thing to me. “You’re doing it wrong.” Well, perhaps not in those exact words, but that’s the gist of it. The list is fairly short, but it always seems to be the same words, no matter who I talk to. It may be how to dress for an interview, not using a photo of myself or even not to use contractions in a résumé.

One time a career councillor suggested I re-jigger my résumé so that it looks and reads like all other IT résumés that fit their ideal template. My retort: “So you’re saying you want my résumé to read like ninety-five percent of the other ones out there? The last thing I want is to not stand out.” Of course, she had to warn me that I may be losing potential opportunities from companies that may be more conservative than others. I was well aware of this already. I was willing to accept those potential losses, as those companies probably wouldn’t be the right culture fit for me anyways.

I’ll be damned if I’m going to present myself to the world the same way that ninety-five percent of them do. Peoples opinions be damned. The reason why I say this, is not out of sheer arrogance, but because my strategy has typically landed me a great job with a great company. The kind of companies that I actually want to work for. Friends may argue otherwise, but many of those friends are also unhappy in their jobs. When I suggest they leave and seek out what they are truly passionate about, they sigh and say: “it’s just a job”. These people giving me advice are the ones that have given up on what motivates and excites them. I don’t listen to these people.

I have to do something that is intellectually stimulating. Paying the bills of course is important, but I need to be able to wake up every morning and be excited to get to work and see what I can contribute and create. In the end, whether it’s a day job or writing about technology and design, I just want to be able to make amazing things and contribute back to the world.