Follow Your Procrastination (Or, How I Changed Careers)

A few years ago my friend posted a quote about procrastination:

The work you do while you procrastinate is probably the work you should be doing for the rest of your life. –Jessica Hische

Upon first read the concept was interesting, but it’s full weight didn’t hit me until much later. I think the delayed reaction was due to my professional youth – at the time I was earning spurs on my first national brand and consuming knowledge from my veteran boss like a dry sponge. The specificity of the industry (marketing) was far less important to me than the unique opportunities I had to carry more responsibility than normal for my age.

After a good while, though, my rate of absorption began to slow. As a wise man once said, “in this department of life, as in every other, thrills come at the beginning and do not last.

While I still thoroughly enjoyed my day-to-day responsibilities, a flattened learning curve afforded me more time to expand my reading and thinking about marketing, business, and more. Interestingly, my curiosity led me mostly towards the internet, technology, and entrepreneurship.

Hacker News and WIRED became regular reads, I began grabbing lunch with startup addicts like Dodd Caldwell. I even started teaching myself basic HTML.

I also channeled my off-hours energy (and learning) into attempts to start a few companies. I began to scan my day-to-day experiences for annoyances or problems that I thought technology could iron out. At the time, I also happened to live with one of the most talented developers I’ve ever met, and he was happy for a few new challenges to tackle.

In about a years’ time, we both began and killed a rental payment web app and a wedding website service. (It was awesomely deflating to see WordPress release a phenomenal wedding product not too long after we started writing code.)

Around that same time a friend told me that he heard about an extra volunteer spot at a sold-out conference called GROK. I knew that some of the brightest minds in the country gather there to talk about technology, design, and the internet, so I was thrilled to take him up.

GROK did two very important things for me: First, it fully confirmed my passion for the industry, giving me clear direction for my next career move.

Second, it introduced me to a few gentleman named Matthew Smith and Peter Barth, who would later provide the opportunity for that career move.

In different spheres, both had been forging a foundation of design and technology in the Upstate, Matthew through gathering some of the top talent in the nation and forming CoWork, and Peter through a startup accelerator called The Next Big Thing.

When our paths crossed at GROK, it just so happens that they were talking about combining forces to form a single organization that shared resources, collaboration, and talent to better position our community as the place for all things tech in the Southeast.

It also just so happens that they needed another team member to manage both execution and promotion of their programs.

At that point, though, the merger was still an idea over lunch. But lunches turned into meetings, and meetings turned into branding work, and The Iron Yard was born, along with an offer for yours truly.

In November my procrastination will turn into my paycheck, and I couldn’t be more excited.

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Practicing the art of bringing guns to a knife fight.

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