In a very random life event, I was asked a lot of questions recently by people exploring making a movie about my life. This is not the interesting part, because in Hollywood people are always talking about making movies that come to nothing …
The interesting thing was how many times the answer to a question was,
Sister Marion, my sixth-grade math teacher.
I was not a very prepossessing child.
In fact, if there was such a word as anti-possessing (which there is not), that would have defined me well. I was short, overweight, often dressed in my brother’s too-big clothes because I was too lazy to look for my own uniform and didn’t care about my appearance. I was also the type of child who knew the definition of words like ‘prepossessing’ and mocked other children, and teachers, if they did not. It probably doesn’t surprise you to hear that I was not wildly popular.
My grades were not the best, partly because I often forgot my homework in the mad rush to get five kids out the door early enough that my mother could make it to work on time. Partly it was because I am EXTREMELY near-sighted, a fact no one discovered until the third or fourth grade (thank you, Lions Club vision screening!) and even after that I usually could not see the board because I could not manage to have a pair of glasses for more than a few weeks without losing them. Glasses were not cheap and my family didn’t have a lot of extra cash so it would usually be months between pairs.
Then, I got the chicken pox and was out of school for a week. Despite all of the bewailing about how stupid today’s children are compared to yesteryear, back then we learned fractions in sixth-grade, not fifth, and I had missed the entire week when these were introduced. A petty teacher (and the world has too damn many of those), might have been gratified by the fact that a pain-in-the-ass, know-it-all kid was finally going to be put in her place.
I’d like to think that Sister Marion realized that the only thing I felt I had going for me was being smart and that’s why I had to rub everyone’s face in it. Maybe she realized I needed a friend, and a new perspective.
Whatever it was, she paired me up with another child in the class, Diane, who wasn’t a star student overall, but was very good at math, and told her to explain to me what we had learned while I was out. Not only did I get caught up on fractions, but I learned not to underestimate people based on appearances or first impressions. Just because a person wasn’t a great reader didn’t mean she couldn’t be good at math. Diane and I actually had conversations, and she introduced me to another friend of hers, also named Diane. I called one of the Dianes on the phone – it was the first time I had ever had another kid at school to call – and I was 11.
Sister Marion was nice to me. If you think every teacher is nice to every child then perhaps you need to go back and read the beginning of this post. When I think back, I can only think of two teachers I had before I got expelled from the public school system who were consistently nice to me, Sister Marion and Mr. Cartwright, my 8th grade algebra teacher.
It’s probably no coincidence that I’m good at math and made a career of it.
It’s funny how often when they asked me questions, Sister Marion’s name came up.
Did you have a teacher who you particularly admired?
Was there a teacher who interested you in mathematics?
What made you decide that you wanted to teach?
Who were your role models in life?
I’m not saying that she was the only person who was a role model or who made a difference. However, she was exactly what we try to be at 7 Generation Games – a change in the trajectory that made me shift from doing all right in school with no effort to doing better and better with more effort. She was a person that made me think I could be more than ordinary.
Of course I make an effort to encourage the students who show exceptional effort and ability. Then, I remember Sister Marion and make an extra effort to also encourage students who are annoying, rude, don’t do their work.
When I think of Sister Marion, I am reminded yet again of the truth of that saying:
I touch the future. I teach.
Want to see what I did with math once I grew up?
Since I already called my mom on Mother’s Day, I thought that I’d talk about another woman who was important in my life, a mentor, who I probably haven’t talked to in 20 years. (I know, I’m such an ungrateful bitch. )
Dr. Jane Mercer was not even in the same department as me. My dissertation was an analysis of the psychometric properties of Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children – Revised , Mexicano, and she was a sociologist renowned for her expertise on the impact of social and cultural factors on intelligence test scores.
Shortly after I finished the first draft of my dissertation, my advisor received some distressing news (no, it wasn’t that he was my advisor, he already knew that). He and his wife had begun dating as very young teenagers. Other than his military service during World War II, they had been together ever since. When she was diagnosed with cancer, he walked into the dean’s office and just said, simply,
… And went on sabbatical with about a four-minute notice.
Everyone completely understood. His colleagues took over committee responsibilities. As his doctoral student that was furthest along, I taught his courses, like inferential statistics.
I was his only doctoral student writing a dissertation, and someone needed to step in to supervise my research. That was Dr. Jane Mercer.
Not only did she read every draft of my dissertation, recommend articles I read and journals to submit publications, introduce me to people at conferences (not a gesture to be underestimated when one is looking for a position) but, more importantly, she provided advice on life.
Here are a few of the things I learned from Dr. Mercer just by observing her.
1. NO MATTER HOW FAR YOU HAVE GONE DOWN THE WRONG ROAD, TURN BACK! Taped over her desk, Dr. Mercer had a piece of paper with this proverb typed on it. No matter how far you’ve gone down the wrong road, turn back. We’re told in America that quitters never win, bloom where you’re planted, you can’t fight city hall, you’re never going to win against big corporations. Making a change in anything from your employer to your gym to the crowd you hang around with can be treated as an act of disloyalty. People stay in situations long, long after they should have left because they are ‘committed’, ‘invested’, ‘cannot leave now’. The unwillingness to turn back after going a long way down the wrong road is the second biggest barrier most people’s happiness. The biggest is fear, which leads me to …
2. Have the courage to speak the truth as you see it. Being the most brilliant researcher in the world does no good to anyone if you are afraid to publish and publicize unpopular results. In the 1970s, many people thought intelligence tests were the answer to psychology’s long history of physics envy. At last, we were a real science with actual numbers, not this whacko dream interpretation stuff but measurement – hey, IQ even has a math word – quotient, in the name. Not to mention, companies like The Psychological Corporation and Educational Testing Service were big business (still are). Jane Mercer sincerely believed intelligence tests systematically underestimated the intelligence of low-income, minority children. In the case of Diana vs the State Board of Education, a lawsuit was filed on behalf a few Mexican-American children, including a little girl who spoke Spanish as her first language, was tested in English and determined to be mentally retarded. All of the big names (and big money) lined up on the side of the State Board of Education and Jane spoke up for the side of Diana. This may not seem like much now, but back then she had to stand up to a LOT of opposition, it was not happy times. She did it anyway.
3. Yes, you CAN have a job and a family. Men do it all the time. Jane was older than me and of that generation that was told women could either have a career or children but not both. By the time I met her, her four sons were all adults. She and her husband got along fine and seemed to agree that since they were both parents of these children they could both engage in parenting them. We couch things in daunting terms “Can women have it all?” Of course no one has it ALL. I’m finishing this blog post in the Denver airport. That empty spot you see at the end of jetway is where the plane I am taking back to Los Angeles should be.
I would like to have a non-eventful flight out of Denver airport, just once. You see, none of us can have it ALL but no one asks men whether they think they can manage a career and children.
4. Being the first or only woman in an area doesn’t mean you have to go along with that happy-to-be-here crap. Yes, she was a tenured professor at the University of California, which had damn few of them, but that didn’t mean she had to accommodate in any way because of her gender. Don’t take on female doctoral students because you don’t want to be type-cast as ‘only a good advisor for women’? Screw that! If they needed an advisor and she could help, she was on board. Don’t speak out about intelligence testing because people will think you are shrill or too emotional, not a real academic? Screw that twice! As you can see, I have taken that lesson deeply to heart but with less of her limits on profanity.
Woo-hoo – plane boarding now – only 90 minutes late – gotta go. Happy Mother’s Day.
Whenever you find yourself overworked or tired out, it’s easy to get upset out of all proportion when something goes wrong.
The usual advice to avoiding stress – “Be sure you get enough sleep. Work-life balance is important.” – can be like telling runners at a track meet to run faster. It is correct but not helpful.
This month, I’ll be in Tampa, San Francisco, Las Vegas, Grand Forks, Devils Lake and Tulsa. I’m giving three papers at three conferences, meeting with a lot of people, writing an annual report, working on the bugs to get out our latest game by the end of this month, working on a Chromebook version of our two current games, expanding our resources for instructors, meeting with potential investors, visiting school beta sites. It’s exhausting just reading it, no?
I arrive in Los Angeles from Las Vegas at 10 pm and leave at 1 am for Grand Forks. I’m not at private jet level yet, so I had to catch whatever flights were available to get from Nevada to North Dakota because those selfish bastards who organized SAS Global Forum did not consult me in which days on the calendar fit in my personal schedule. I know, I’m shocked, too! The North Dakota STEM conference, same thing! No one called me and said,
“Hi, AnnMaria, we’re thinking of having a conference. What day is good for you?”
My point is that when Delta airlines doesn’t consider you in its flight routes or conferences don’t schedule around your convenience, you don’t get outraged because you don’t take it personally.
That last phrase is the major stress relief strategy that is within your control. You can’t always get enough sleep, do your yoga, only associate with positive people (or, based on some of my recent flights, people with adequate hygiene).
You can, however, try to avoid taking personally the inevitable slips in your best-laid plans. I’ll give you an example that happens to me more often than I would like – I am supposed to go to a school that has expressed an interest in using our games to teach math. Sometimes they have made an appointment for me to present our research to the staff, observe students playing in the computer lab or meet with a focus group of students and then, at the last minute cancel – sometimes, literally, as I am getting into my car to drive to meet with them.
It’s easy to get upset about this, or a hundred other things that don’t go perfectly in the average day. I was talking to The Perfect Jennifer about one of these today and she said,
You know, Mom, as much as I am always on your side, I don’t think this has anything to do with you.
And she is right. I could have said,
“What do you mean? It was ME they had agreed to meet with/ invest in/ buy games from/ have as the chief belly dancer (okay, maybe not that last one).”
The fact is, though, people change their minds, say something they didn’t mean, double-book, forget appointments or have conflicts for all kinds of reasons and a very, very small proportion of them have to do with you. They just plain forgot that Wednesday was a half-day and the students would not be there at 2 pm. THEY are overworked, too, and were called in to handle a crisis with a student who had attempted suicide or assaulted a teacher, the school is on lock-down, the superintendent dropped by to ask why their test scores were so low, their budget was cut, their last investment lost a bucket of money and they can no longer afford to invest.
So … the next time you find your stress level rising along with your desire to throttle someone, don’t count to ten, start counting all of the plausible explanations for their behavior that don’t involve you. I’m pretty sure people are not wandering around plotting to make your life stressful. In fact, once you start thinking about the potential problems other people have to deal with, your life starts looking pretty good by comparison.
It’s almost 6 am here on the east coast, and after flying all day during which I worked on a final report for a grant to develop our latest educational game and make bug fixes on same, I landed and wrote a report for a client, because that pays the bills.
In the meantime, over on our 7 Generation Games blog, Maria wrote a post where she called bullshit on venture capitalists who claim not to be interested in educational games because they aren’t a billion dollar business but then fund other enterprises that no way in hell are a billion dollar business.
She seems to have touched a nerve because now we are getting comments from people saying no one wants to fund you because your games are bad and you are mean.
That is part of the start-up life, really. You have this idea for a business that you think is wonderful, it is your baby. Like a baby, you get too little sleep, because you are working all of the time, but you think it’s worth it.
And every day, you run into people who are essentially telling you that your baby is ugly.
People like to believe they are reasonable and give reasons for their belief in your baby’s ugliness. I think you should consider those explanations because they could be right. Maybe your baby IS ugly.
For example, someone said, “Maybe venture capitalists don’t want to invest in your games because they aren’t as good as the PS4 , Wii and Xbox games and kids don’t want to play them.”
I answered that he was correct, our games, that cost schools an average of $2- $3 per student, and cost individuals $9.99 are NOT as good as games that cost $40 – $60. If you have 200 kids in your school playing our games, you probably can’t afford to pay us $10,000 . I know this is true. Could I be wrong about the price of the games to which he was comparing ours? I went and checked on Amazon which is probably one of the cheapest places to buy games and, I was correct.
I have a Prius. My daughter has a BMW that costs four times as much. Her car looks much cooler than mine and goes much faster. Does that mean Prius sucks and no one should invest in them? Obviously, no.
Actually, we have thousands of kids playing our games and they sincerely seem to like them, and upper elementary and middle school kids are usually pretty honest about what they think sucks.
People sometimes point out that our graphics could be cooler or our game world could be larger or other really, really great ideas that I completely agree with. The fact is, though, that we want our games to be an option for schools, parents across the income spectrum, after-school programs and even nursing homes, in some cases. (There is a whole group of “silver gamers”.) These markets often do NOT have the type of hardware that hard-core gamers do. In fact, the minimal hardware requirement we aim to support is Chromebooks and we are building web-based versions that will run in areas that don’t have high-speed Internet access.
Did you ever have that experience where you call tech support for a problem and the person on the other end says,
Well, it works on my computer.
What good does that do me?
So, we are trying to make games that work on a lot of people’s computers. Believe me, I do get it. I play games on my computer and I have a really nice desktop in an area with high-speed Internet and I would LOVE to do some way cooler things. We made the decision to try to provide games people could play even if the only computer they can access is some piece of junk computer that most of us would throw out. Don’t get me started on the need to upgrade our schools and libraries, that is a rant for another day.
A teacher commented the other day that while she really liked the educational quality of our games what she really wanted for her classroom were Xbox quality games for free . I would like a free computer, too, but those bastards at Apple keep charging me when I want a new one. I guess that is a rant for another day, too.
My whole point is that running a start-up is a lot of hard work and a lot of rejection. Almost like being an aspiring actor or author or raising a teenager. You have to consider the criticisms without being discouraged. Maybe they are correct that Shakespeare wouldn’t have said,
Like, you know, to be or not.
On the other hand, I remember that publishers rejected Harry Potter, and just about every successful company over the last few decades has had more detractors than supporters when it got started. And let it be noted I was right about that jerk I told you not to date, too.
There are some things in life that I just have difficulty wrapping my brain around, and one of those is how some people can be so incompetent that they don’t know they’re incompetent.
Let’s take the example of people earning doctorates. You’d think that would be a pretty select crowd, right?
From 1990-99, there were about 40,000 annual Ph.D graduates.
That seems like a pretty steep jump in 30 years, but maybe science, technology, etc. was increasing at a rapid rate, we were in a race to space, make up whatever explanation you want because, are you ready for this …. in 2013, we awarded over 125% of the number of degrees a mere 14 years ago- and that is following on pretty steep trends up to that decade.
There has been a dramatic increase in the number of institutions awarding doctorates.
So, here is a question for you …. who are the people educating all of these doctoral students?
At the risk of sounding like an old curmudgeon, even more than usual, I’d like to point out that it used to be that a professor supervised only a few doctoral students at a time. You worked closely with that person on your research for a year or two. Prior to that, you had 3-5 years of coursework, often with only a dozen or fewer students in a class. When I enrolled in the doctoral program, I had to agree not to work more than 20 hours a week during the term because being a doctoral student was a full-time job. All but two of my statistics courses were six hours a week, a three-hour lecture and a three-hour lab. One of the two that didn’t have a lab, structural equation modeling, you were just expected to spend that lab time figuring it out on your own, and believe me, it took more than an extra three hours.
When I look at what doctoral students are required to know in most institutions, I wonder – who is going to replace the people who are retiring?
If someone poses a statistical problem to me – say, determining whether three groups receiving different treatments improved from pretest to post-test, I can perform all of the steps required to answer the problem – pose the relevant hypotheses and post hoc tests, evaluate the reliability and validity of the measures used, clean the data in preparation for analysis. Not only can I lay out the research design and necessary steps, but I can code it, in SAS preferably but in SPSS or Stata if someone prefers. Everyone I knew in graduate school was expected to be able to do this, it wasn’t the special AnnMaria program.
Now, many people use consultants. I have friends that make their living full time consulting on dissertations for doctoral students.
This leads me to the question, “What are their advisors doing if these students need a consultant?”
Isn’t that what your professors in your program are supposed to be doing, consulting with you?
The fact is that the vast majority of professors now are adjuncts, teaching a course here or there. I’m not bashing adjuncts per se. I teach as an adjunct now and then myself, and it is fine if you need a course on say, programming or statistics, but if that is all you get, is courses taught by someone tangentially tied to the university, you are missing out on the in-depth research and study that used to be required for a Ph.D.
The really alarming thing to me is that now we have whole waves of students who are being educated by people who don’t know any other system. So, we have people who cannot conduct a complete research project on their own, who have only vague concepts of what a ‘mixed model’ is – and they are teaching doctoral students! Now, if you are in French literature or something, maybe that’s cool and mixed models aren’t very applicable. That’s not my point.
My point is this whole cutting costs by reducing full-time faculty to a tiny fraction has resulted in people who are poorly educated and don’t even know it! They don’t know what they don’t know and now they are passing their ignorance on to the next generation.
I came out of my Ph.D. program knowing one hell of a lot, simply because, if I wanted to graduate, there was no other option. The University of California didn’t give a damn if I had three kids (I did), or needed to work (I did) or that it costs one hell of a lot to provide that level of individual supervision (it did). The powers that be figured you needed this body of knowledge to get a Ph.D. and that was that. And now, that isn’t that. That worries me.
This is part 3 of the series inspired by Cindy Gallop’s brilliant talk on finding talented women or minorities.
Not only is your company not hiring female or minority employees, not investing in female or minority-led companies, but YOU ARE LITERALLY ADDING INSULT TO INJURY.
The tech workforce is disproportionately white and Asian male, and the white male proportion increases the higher one goes up the ladder. Link to Fortune article here. I don’t just make this shit up.
Here is what people say when told these facts about their company.
“We hire/fund solely based on merit.”
Which is saying, that Latinos, African-Americans, Native Americans, women are INFERIOR. If you do not mean that, please tell me how “has less merit” is defined in your language.
There is actually a great deal of research that documents that women and non-white men are NOT judged equally. Here is a link to a summary of three of them. In fact, the identical pitch, when given by a man, was about twice as likely to rated favorably as a pitch by a woman.
The second was on how we hire men based on their potential but we hire women based on their proven accomplishments. The same goes for African-Americans, Latinos and others who don’t fit the stereotype. There are plenty of studies, here’s a link to one of them, that show we give people “like us” the benefit of the doubt. They are rated more highly, more likely to be hired. The “like us” includes “like the people who already work here”.
This whole “they don’t have merit” and judging one group of people on potential while another is judged on accomplishments, produces a vicious circle.
You hire Bob because he has all the qualifications for the job – degree in the right field, portfolio he created in college that highlights his skills – and he is your friend, Bubba’s son. I get that, I really do. We are a small company and we can’t afford to have people working for us who are lazy, faked their qualifications or just cannot get along with their co-workers. Bob is a known quantity and you want to mitigate risk.
So, now, Roberto, or Roberta, does NOT get the internship. When you are looking for a full-time employee, it’s not that you don’t like Latinos or women but Bob has experience and they don’t. Two years later, when you are looking for someone to promote to management, there is Bob, with two years of experience in your company and Roberto and Roberta are somewhere else.
Let’s go back to the beginning, though, when Bob is applying for his first internship or pitching his first startup. Let’s say you don’t know Bob, or Roberto or Roberta. How fucking DARE you start off by saying,
“Well, I’d give Roberto or Roberta the chance if one of them is the better candidate.”
Why do they have to be the BETTER candidate? Why can’t they be just as good?
Okay, now you’re back-pedaling,
Well, of course, if they were just as good.
What really, really makes me want to slap people is the assumption that Roberto or Roberta are not just as good, the willingness to accept the “we only hire for merit and all of the white, male people are better.” Define better.
Let me tell you what happens to the definition of better – it moves to fit your preconceived notions.
Sometimes, Maria and I look at the programs that decided not to fund us or accept us in their accelerator and we laugh a little bitterly. They accept/ fund people with less traction, less users, no product, less experience, less education. Somehow, though, they have “more merit”.
It’s your money, it’s your program and you have every legal right to select people how you see fit.
Just DON’T go around telling people that you accepted all young white and Asian men because there were no good female, black, Latino or Native American entrepreneurs out there, because that just makes me want to slap you.
The Rest of the Story …
There were two additional points in her presentation I want to address, but first …
Play it for a few minutes and come back here for the rest of the story.
Did you find yourself saying,
“Yes, but your group of minority/ female developers and artists did not have good enough graphics/ CSS that perfectly centered video/ all of the Spanish language translations done ..”
The fact is, I gave you the link to a prototype for a reason. It emphasizes two of the truest points Cindy Gallop makes in her presentation.
We hire men based on their potential but we hire women based on their demonstrated ability to do the work.
Did I mention that the link you reviewed was a prototype? Yes, I did. Ever since we started 7 Generation Games, our start-up arm that is distributing our educational games, we have heard the same refrain from investors.
- We don’t think this idea will work. Come back when you have a prototype
- We don’t think you can make a commercial game for that price. Come back when you have a completed game.
- We don’t think schools will use these games. Come back when you have 1,000 users.
- We don’t think these games will work. Come back when you have data.
- We don’t think there is a market for games that need to be installed on the desktop. Come back when you have a version in the cloud.
- We don’t think there is a market for web-based games. Come back when you have an iPad version.
Are we seeing a pattern here? I’m actually not whining. Well, not whining any more than usual. We’re still here while most of those companies that received funding two or three years ago when we were just starting have since disappeared.
We’ve received over $600,000 in federal grants, we’ve had two successful crowd-funding campaigns.
We were part of the Boom Startup Ed Tech Accelerator. We just closed our first angel investor round, late in 2015, where we raised $240,000. My point is that we did that MUCH later in the game than I think we would have if we were co-founded by a couple of white or Asian males from Stanford. We don’t look the part of a start-up team.
Funny, I believe my experience as a non-male, non-Japanese competing in judo back in those pre-Title IX days has been great preparation for co-founding a startup. I had 14 years of experience as a competitor with people denying me funding because I wasn’t good enough, didn’t do things right, didn’t run with the right group to get coaching to succeed. Then, I was the first American to win the world judo championships and this weekend I’m getting inducted into the International Sports Hall of Fame.
I actually appreciate the haters and the doubters as they do point out areas we can improve our products and we are continually working on that. We have come very far with relatively little funding for making games and we will go much farther yet.
I’m not sure how much more we have to demonstrate before we attract the attention of
<sarcasm> those accelerators and investors who are looking so-o hard for women-owned startups </sarcasm>
If you’re interested in our desktop games, check out the demos here,
If you are interested in games that run on the web, those are in beta and will be done in a few months. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like more information on those.
What you should NOT do is tell me how you are trying so hard to find women in tech to support because I am seriously, seriously tired of hearing that bullshit.
Check back tomorrow for what you really shouldn’t say about women in tech if you don’t want me to slap you.
First of all, you should all watch this video by the brilliant Cindy Gallop. Everything she says about recruiting women for jobs as Executive Creative Directors applies exactly to women, black , Hispanic or Native American men applying for jobs in technology or for investor funding.
Did you watch it? Good! Let me reinforce one of her points.
- If you do not have diversity in your team or portfolio it is BECAUSE YOU DON’T REALLY WANT IT. If you cannot find women/ Latinos/ Native Americans/ African-Americans it is because you are not looking hard enough.
The last software intern we hired was Native American, which I discovered when her tribal enrollment card was one of the documents she presented on the first day of work. The two software developers we hired before her were both Latino. One of our artists is Native American which I discovered when I said we had hired him in part because we were so impressed with the paintings he did of scenes with Native American subjects and he mentioned that he is Ojibwe.
We found good people by reaching out to the people we knew for recommendations. We posted on our company and personal Facebook pages, posted on our company blog, tweeted on our company and personal accounts. See the number of times I said “personal” in there?
We did not go to any major efforts to have a technology company that is 66% minority employees. I gave a presentation on a panel at East Los Angeles College and we have hired two people from there since.
A couple of our employees were referred by mutual acquaintances who knew them and knew what we needed and forwarded our position announcement.
We aren’t prejudiced against white males any more than I am going to assume that you are prejudiced against African-American women or Latinas. The question is, how many do you know? My best friend is Latino and so, not coincidentally, is his son. We hired his son as art director because his work is a perfect fit for the games we are creating. See below.
If the people in your network are mostly white men, that is probably going to be most of the people you get as applicants.
Try reaching out to people outside of your network.
I know there are many, many places you can find diverse talent. There are two I just thought of off the top of my head from which we have recruited people. I know you have access to some electronic device, since you are reading this. It’s not that hard to find people, if you really want to do it.
Come back tomorrow for “I’m sick of that bullshit about not being able to find women in tech: part 2″
Twice in the last week, I’ve had people say to me, expecting agreement,
Winners never quit. You know that, right? You’ve won a world championships, founded several companies, earned a Ph.D. You never would have done that if you quit.
I would like to go on record with my opinion.
That idea that winners never quit is complete and total bullshit.
I have accomplished a lot of things in my life and it would never have happened if I hadn’t quit other things.
- I started out as an Urban Studies major. I quit that and got a BSBA in business instead, where I was required to take Calculus and a couple of programming courses, market research and took an elective in statistics … all of which sparked my interest in software development, statistics and mathematics, which led to the career I have now. If I had followed the never quit mantra, I’d probably be a city planner.
- I had a job as an industrial engineer that I liked a lot. I quit that to take a job teaching computer classes in the corporate training department, because I wanted to live in the same city as my second husband. Then, because I really didn’t like that job, I quit it and got a Ph.D.
- I quit the marriage to my first husband and I am 100% certain that both he and I are much happier as a result. I certainly would not have had The Perfect Jennifer, Darling Daughter Number Three and The Spoiled One if I had stayed married. I doubt I would have gotten a Ph.D. or started a business.
- I quit competing in judo after I won the world championships. I had other things I wanted to do in life – have more children, get more education, start a business. I ignored everyone’s advice that I would regret it forever if I did not stick it out four more years and go to the Olympics. They were all wrong. I have not regretted it for one second.
- I quit my full-time job as an Associate Professor and moved to California to marry The Invisible Developer and start a business.
- I quit in the middle of a research grant to take a job that paid me a lot more money. Then, I quit that job for one that paid even more THEN, I quit that one to work for a university that paid diddly squat but gave free tuition to my children. If I hadn’t done that, I wouldn’t have been able to pay for Darling Daughter Number One to attend a university that costs slightly more than buying an entire small town, nor for Darling Daughter Number Three to train for the Olympics, nor The Perfect Jennifer to attend graduate school.
- Then, I quit the university because, did I mention my annual salary was approximately diddly squat?
If I hadn’t done that all of that, I would never have co-founded Spirit Lake Consulting, Inc., never founded The Julia Group, never co-founded 7 Generation Games, never written grants for tens of millions of dollars that paid for college scholarships, tutors for high school students, substance abuse counseling, vocational rehabilitation, development of online courses and educational software.
I’m pretty certain that everything I accomplished in life has come about because I DID quit a lot of things when they were no longer rewarding, productive or the right choice for me.
Yes, there are people who give up at the first sign of difficulty, and this is a mistake.
There are also people who go down the wrong path for far too long.
In fact, you cannot pursue an infinite number of opportunities. It would be nice if a new opportunity presented itself exactly when you had finished the previous one, if there were no dead ends and never a need to make adjustments in plans, but that’s not how the world works.
There is also the possibility that quitting is not final – but that’s a post for another day.