— 11 March 2004 —

A Begin Again or Those Jitters Aint Just the Claritin®

One of these days I will figure out what I want to do when I grow up.

I’ve been doing my current gig for almost 5 years now. While I have learned and accomplished a great deal, and could continue working here for the rest of my life, it feels like it is time to start looking for the next challenge.

I have some projects that I continue to work on outside my “day job.” Co-authoring a book, trying to get my Alaska Unbound site going, finishing my novel, and soon-to-be working on an effort related to this site’s purpose. I do not intend to stop these things as they are an extension of who I am.

But that day job is what I would like to change. There is another potential opportunity to start my own holistic design and usability company. I am going to be talking with a friend of mine about this opportunity, but I am just not sure I have the energy right now to build a company from the ground up.

Some of the possibilities I see are offering my services as a usability consultant. I suppose this is something I could do on top of my day job. It’s not my ideal, as I prefer that whole holistic approach to things; building lasting relationships with companies in order to help them build lasting relationships with their customers.

I also wouldn’t mind joining a small-ish firm. There are a few out there that I would deem worthy. :) I actually mean that with some seriousness. There are plenty of design and usability firms out there that suck, frankly. I don’t see much in the way of long-term goals or even vision from most firms. The places I am interested in have a true talent for design and usability, but also for running a business. Trouble is, how do I go about getting in? “Hi, this Matthew Oliphant. Your friendly usability sherpa…? I’m a Gemini, I like sushi, and always enjoy long walks off short piers.”

Another option that presented itself recently is contract work for big companies. I had an opportunity that I turned down, but it got me thinking about pursuing the possibility with a better companies. There are a lot of benefits about being the external brought in to solve a problem. I know about the downsides too, but in a way contracting for 6 months or a year could be a nice quasi-sabbatical.

Perhaps I should go back to cooking school, or take up acting again. Open that commercial coffee roaster, or start be a kayaking guide. Maybe something a little more stable for the ol’ income…

So, after all this typing I still don’t have an answer, not that I expected to have one. Do you have an answer? Want an incredibly smart, talented, handsome, and funny designer/usabilityer to join your firm? Want me to set up a strategic customer experience plan for you? Can I bake you a ginger cake with lemon curd?

Mmmmm… Ginger cake…

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