This is my New Years post, and it felt like the right timing for this fascinating topic. I had questions on this brought up in my last few coaching sessions and via email from a number of email coaching subscribers. I love this topic partially because I had to learn it along the way. I made mistakes, just like everyone else. I spent my first 8+ years at the same company, not because I was making a conscious decision, but because I didn't have a framework to make a decision.
The truth is that I came up with the clear framework below after coming back to Amazon from Facebook. I had dozens of Amazon co-workers ask why I'd gone to Facebook, and why I'd subsequently returned. During months of answering the same questions, I clarified the answer, and arrived at an uncomfortable truth. I repeatedly explained that Facebook hadn't met my personal priorities. However, I realized along the way that the group I had joined (AWS EC2 Networking) also didn't meet my personal priorities. I'd moved back to Amazon, but had made the same mistake twice in a row.
Thankfully, after describing my decision process a few dozen times, I was able to make a calculated decision to leave AWS, and move to the Devices organization. That met my priorities, goals, and achieved everything I wanted out of my next job. I believe I was only able to make that (wise) choice because I'd put a lot of thought into why I should choose one job over another. And that's what the below explains. I hope everyone has a fantastic holiday with their family and friends. Happy New Years!
I joined Amazon in December 2007 in the global payments group. Almost exactly two years later, I joined the Retail Marketplace team. I spent around four years there, and then moved to Facebook. Nine months later, I moved to AWS. I spent almost exactly one year there, before moving to the Devices organization. Three years in Devices was enough, so I took a leave of absence. After a nine-month leave with my family, I moved back to Amazon and joined the Prime Gaming organization. Some number of months in, I was asked to join Bezos Academy. One year at Bezos Academy, and I left to do my own thing.
What had I done prior to joining Amazon? I'd been at a single company on the same team for over eight years.
Particularly for a manager, having seven positions over 14 years is excessive. Those years weren't unproductive. I hired hundreds of employees, and I was promoted repeatedly. Yet if I had stuck with some of those positions for more years, I would have almost certainly had more career success. However, that wasn't my priority, which I'll get to later.
Considering the volume of moves I've made, a frequent question I've received is: Why?
- What made you decide it was time to move on?
- How do you personally decide it's time to change teams or companies, or stick it out?
- When should I consider throwing in the towel?
I have a biased perspective, based on my own experience. I've made the choice to move more often than most. However, I thought I should share my experience and criteria I've used, as I've exercised my decision-making process more than most.
Spend your life wisely
Your first step is to consider what your priorities are. Not just your work priorities. Your life priorities. In an average work year, you will invest at least 2000 hours of your precious life in your job. Minus 8 hours for sleeping, a year is 5840 hours. Once you subtract out time for changing, eating, and brushing your teeth, you likely have closer to 5000 hours available in total. This means that at least 40% of your available year will be spent on work.
Do you want to let fate dictate how you spend 40% of your life energy? We live such short lives. We can't afford to blow our limited time budget on things which don't matter.
I'm not saying that we can all save the dolphins with our careers. Yet we can get more than a paycheck out of that 40% time.
What are your priorities? How do you want to spend your limited life?