I get calls from good people who work in big Orthopedic companies and have decided to leave and join a startup.
It’s not that easy.
You all know the frog in the frying pan story. Place a frog in a pan with water and start to heat. As the temperature rises, the frog’s system adjusts. When the water nears the boiling point the frog cannot adjust any longer, the legs don’t work and he dies. Now the frog could have easily jumped out at any point, but the change was so GRADUAL that the frog did not notice.
What killed the frog?
Hint: It wasn’t the temperature. It was the frog’s lack of judgement on knowing when to jump out.
Let’s go back to the first day that our good person joined the big Ortho company. Life was great! The job was stable and safe and his friends knew the company by name. The big Ortho was a big place with lots of resources and great training. People were friendly. There were lots of projects, and wow, they even had matching 401k.
Now, fast forward to today. It has been a gradual process, but over the years his promotions became more spread out, his job responsibilities became narrower, and one day he woke up and realized that he was not learning anything. He wasn’t growing. Additionally, the promotions are driven by politics. Nobody at the big Ortho can make a decision. The meetings are endless. And by the way, there is a new pending layoff that everyone is trying to survive. How could this happen to him? He became a frog. Gradual change is hard to recognize.
Take Home Message: Jump out of the big Ortho while you still have the strength.
Here is some advice from your favorite recruiter. The reality is that the longer you stay at the big Ortho company, the less desirable you become for a startup. The security blanket becomes too comfortable and the likelihood of being effective in a startup becomes more remote. The drive and hunger required to be successful inside a start up will be bred out of you over time. You will slowly become “institutionalized”.
The startup CEO will ask me, “Why did he stay at the big Ortho for so long if he was serious about working in a startup? Ok, pass… bring me more entrepreneurial candidates.”
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.
The Road Not Taken by Robert Frost