I quit my job today.
This wasn’t just any job, it was the best job I’ve ever had. More than that, it was my dream job. I remember telling a friend about 6 or 7 years ago that what I really wanted was to go work for the Internet Society. I wanted to turn my volunteer work into my paid work. I wanted to travel more, to meet the folks who run the Internet all over the world, and to do what I could to help.
For the past 20 months, I’ve been doing just that.
In essence my job has been to fly around the world, talk to people, and try to help keep the Internet free, open, and growing. In so doing, I’ve gotten to eat, drink and dance with heroes, mentors, and luminaries in cities all over the world. In fact, since I joined the Internet Society as the Director of Deployment and Operationalization I’ve…
- Flown 327,950 miles (527,784 kilometers) on 135 flights landing at 57 different airports in 28 countries on 5 continents using 16 different airlines (plus a bunch of trains, cars, and shuttles – and one camel ride).
- Spoken at 30 conferences, attended 37, and hosted 8 (inclusive).
- Written 38 posts for the Deploy360 blog, 2 for The New IP, 1 for Packet Pushers, and surpassed 150k views on CirlcleID.
- Met hundreds upon hundreds of engineers, architects, managers, ministers, journalists, researchers, professors, executives, and others.
- Helped start 4 regional BCOP efforts -and- a campaign to encourage participation in the IETF.
- Overseen the creation, curation, and translation of some of the worlds best resources on IPv6, DNSSEC, TLS, Secure BGP, and Anti-Spoofing.
- Managed a globally distributed team of amazing folks leading 4 major projects and supporting many others.
- Danced, drank, eaten, spoken, walked, swam, ran, partied, sung karaoke, seen concerts, ridden on boats, and gone sightseeing with many of the worlds premier Internet experts.
- Missed numerous holidays and birthdays, ruined at least one relationship (twice), and fallen in love (again).
- Hopefully done some good for the Internet and all of it’s users, both current and future.
In other words I’ve been paid to travel the world, hang out with my friends, and do what I thought was best for the Internet – making the world a better place and having a damn good time doing it!
So why on earth would I quit?
To be perfectly honest, I don’t know that I’ve made the right choice. I went with my gut and it feels right. Call it an educated guess. I do have (at least) two theories as to why I feel this way:
When I left tw telecom around 5 years ago, I had a very illuminating conversation with one of the project managers I had been working closely with. She described two types of people. Fast lane drivers and slow lane drivers. Slow lane drivers just follow the person in front of them without hurry. The view never changes and they simply don’t care. They are perfectly okay being passed by others and getting to their destination whenever they get there. These folks are comfortable where they are. Fast lane drivers can’t stand this. They are the ones who move to the far lane and advance as fast as traffic will allow them. Sitting in the slow lane frustrates them to the point that they just can’t do it. They want action! These folks have to be moving. I think she’s mostly right.
I say mostly because I’ve always been the third type of highway driver. I’m the lane changer. The fast lane isn’t good enough for me. I must make my own way. I drive at my own pace, which is typically faster than most. Once I got a ticket for driving on the shoulder to go past a rush hour traffic jam. I’m often happy but never satisfied. I want more. To do more. To see more. To be more.
I also think there is a fourth type of driver. The driver who is too timid to even make it up the on-ramp onto the highway. These folks need a good kick in the ass.
I love helping people. To a fault. It’s been the cause of (at least) two failed relationships. It’s sometimes brought me other hardships. I still want to do it. Maybe it’s because I was born and raised in Colorado, which is full of hippies. Or perhaps it’s because of my family, also full of hippies. Or maybe it’s just all the weed I smoke, like a hippy. In any case, I value selflessness. I believe that service to your fellow living being is the highest of honors, and deepest of duties.
I’ve recently, over the past few years, come to understand this better however. I call my new understanding the “oxygen mask theory of life.” Every time you board a plane you’re forced to watch a safety demonstration. Sometimes it’s a live pantomime. Often now it’s a video. But each time, it gives the same advice: In the event of a loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop from the ceiling above you. Put your oxygen mask on before helping those around you. That bears repeating. Put your oxygen mask on before helping those around you. This is sage advice. If you try to help those around you, without first securing your air supply, you are destined to fail. Once you pass out, you help no one. Once you die, you have no potential to ever help anyone again. You must first help yourself in order to help others. Call it selfless selfishness.
The bottom line is that I’m leaving the Internet Society for greater potential. The potential to advance myself in ways that allow me to better serve the community I love, and the world I live in. The potential to learn more of the skills I need to have an impact in this life. The potential to build something great, and the potential to serve even better than I am now able.
I’ll be publicly announcing my new position on Monday, June 1st at NANOG 64 in San Francisco. I’ll also write about it here. Stay tuned.