For a long time, I thought success was being hired by a big company.
During the last few years, I’ve seen lots of my dearest friends and most respected designers go to San Francisco to work for some of the biggest companies in the world. I wanted to be there with them, breathing the same air… being part of the big thing, but I knew I wasn’t ready.
Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.
I was working as a Front-End developer by that time. After lots of effort, I found my first chance to work as a designer (what I really wanted to do) in one of the biggest companies in Spain: the social network Tuenti. It was great, but I wanted more…
In seven months, my boss, the one who gave me my first chance, talked to me about a new and very exciting VOD product he was going to move into. “I want you in my team”, he said, and not without thinking about it very deeply, I jumped in… and it was amazing. We had the chance to create not only a product, but a company from scratch, defining everything from a mere concept to the latest detail. We were respected, and we had a very important role in that company. For a time, I really felt complete there: great team, great job, great responsibilities, chances to actually do things that I’d never done before… but suddenly I felt like I needed more…
By that time, a very well known music company contacted me for a position in Stockholm. It was like a dream come true, so I started the process with them. After a couple of nice interviews, a design test and two months in the process I finally got invited for the final interview(s) there. I thought I did it well, so I came back to Madrid pretty confident about getting the job.
When I came back to Youzee, the rumors of a massive layoff were hitting the office. In three days, I got an email from the other company: “Thanks for applying, but you’ve been rejected”. It was really bad… I thought I deserved better after all I’d been through than a prefabricated email. The interviews, the test, the time passing with the uncertainty arguing with my girlfriend about moving to Sweden or not… and I didn’t even apply for the position! They called me! Then Youzee started firing everybody in the company but enough engineers to maintain the service up. The money was gone, the project came to an end and I was completely devastated.
Luckily, I had lots of good offers. However, that feeling of not being ready enough for applying on the big ones was gone, so I started doing it so. I had response from very exciting places like New York, Los Angeles or San Francisco, but only one of those germinated, one with one of the biggest browser vendors in the world. Same process: seven interviews, three months. Same result: “Thanks for applying, but…”. Same feeling: “I’d like to have a deeper explanation and not a prefab email in my inbox”. I felt like a piece of meat no one cared about… and then I started to realize that maybe that wasn’t what I really needed. I was really disappointed with the treatment of “the big ones” gave me, so I took a chance on a small company called Spartanbits.
When I made the interview there I soon realized about two things: that they really needed my help, and that the company had something special in its culture. I took it as a different kind of challenge and it was good at the start. I started reorganizing the design process, asking lots of questions, and suggesting changes. Probably, it wasn’t the right time to do it as energetically as I did, because they were in the middle of a huge release that took too much time, but it seemed the time for doing such changes never came. I felt like I couldn’t put my name on the product, as the design quality made me feel embarrassed, so I started burning out to the point I wanted to leave the company. I realized that changes never come fast, that it’s really difficult to plant the seed of good design and make it grow. It takes a lot of time. There were lots of other things happening around, and not all of them good…
Today, our CEO publicly announced the company has come to an end. To me, it has been eye opening. I immediately remembered a phrase my good friend Edu tweeted a while ago, when we were both about to leave Youzee:
If you don’t build your dream, someone will hire you to help you build theirs.
Well… and here I am. After being in the end of two startups I feel like I really need to stop and take some oxygen. And who knows? maybe starting something on my own, which is something that never crossed my mind before. But I really think now is the right time for myself. Dunno what will happen next, but one thing is for sure: I don’t see success the same way I did one year ago. Now it’s time to redefine what success means!