In early 2020, the company where I worked for the last seven years sold. I was one of the very first employees. I watched the company grow from four of us to 70. I hired at least 20 engineers and almost as many contractors. I brought on board some lifelong friends and made some new lifelong friendships. I had the most rewarding working experiences of my career.
It was also the most difficult working experience of my career. There were many moments where I felt on the brink of leaving it behind. There were many more moments where I had to remind myself, “This is what you signed up for.”
Now that it’s all in the rear-view mirror, the memory of those difficulties has faded. “It’s all roses now,” I told one of my former coworkers when they asked what my memories of those years entailed. Perhaps that is one of the greatest gifts of time. Someday I will need to start writing down everything that I learned, as it is the hardships that provide the most education.
I look forward to many more difficult but rewarding experiences in my career, but this one will always hold a top spot, highlighted on the timeline, adorned with some kind of special emoji.
I only hinted at it in the middle of a random post, but before I left the company over the summer, they had a farewell zoom call for me and it was one of the most damn touching moments of my life. There were a lot of kind things said about me. There were even some tears.
More than the financial upside or the feather in my cap that is ushering a startup from almost nothing through an exit, that is what I’m going to remember and cherish from that time—the relationships, the human encounters, the opportunity to influence and be influenced.