WHY I HAD TO LEAVE A START UP TO GET MY START UP MOJO BACK!

I was one of the lucky few that were able to say that they worked for one of NZ's largest (and most well known) start ups, and it was incredible. 

It was more than nine years ago, when all things start up were pretty exciting.  We wore jeans, t-shirts and flip flops everyday. Heck, this was before the start up uniform that had a compulsory blazer with ironic t-shirt and Adidas Stan sneakers was introduced. We got to see first hand what 'pivot' really meant. Agile was a way of life, not a working style. We were jacks of all trades and believed that we embodied the effervescent mentality that we watched our leaders impart. I worked with some of NZ's best minds and started to cultivate work habits from the best in the biz.

I look back at this period extremely fondly and fully understand the gifts that being involved in a start up gave me. I learnt that I ultimately was responsible for my work, the buck stopped with me.  I learnt to question things when my 'gut' told me too. I learnt what flat structure was, thinking big and most importantly how valuable relationships are.  I learnt that, just do it was more than a sports logo. I also learnt that I was replaceable - so working hard was a must and hiding was impossible.

As I grew over the years I did forget something. The business started to change, but I, well, I didn't really.  I forgot diversification. This is not a slight on the business - in fact the opposite  it's about remembering what YOU are trying to achieve in your career.

I'm a believer that you don't need to over plan your career - you can watch for signs and opportunities that come your way. Which is great, however this can make it easy to forget to look out for the opportunities that come your way because. I declined some pretty amazing ones too. Mainly because I was super comfortable where I was. I stopped pushing myself and this can lead to a mentality that is most definitely not a start up mentality! 

It was after a rough journey that I finally decided to take a chance. A new role. A corporate role.... it was a rather dreaded subject choice and I did get a few smirks and knowing smiles. Which I gracefully decided to give weirdly, wild smiles to. It was from one of my mentors though, who said "it's not where you work. It's the growth that you are aiming for and the skills that you are trying to grow".

How right he was. Moving into this unlikely giant, corporate has given me a brand new lease of creativity. Pushed my boundaries and allowed me to sharpen my start up skill set.  It's also allowed me to work with some pretty amazing people.

My point, and there is a point, is that it's so easy to stop questioning what you are doing and take the easy way out where you stop seeing opportunities. A career isn't always made, it's created. 

There is much more I can share with you about my experiences but what career lessons have your learnt?