Stuck In The 9-5 Rut?
Living a life without purpose or meaning
I’ve often felt like working for someone else is empty and lacks any purpose in life other than to give you (and your family) a inadequate lifestyle. Never have I heard it summed up so beautifully until I listened to a podcast with this devoted entrepreneur who talks about his entrepreneurial experience
A lot of us who live the corporate life become a lab rat
Here is an extract from the podcast:
The App Guy Podcast is a show that is to inspire app entrepreneurs. Now, you’ve made a successful switch:
- from a high-profile corporate job
- to an entrepreneurial lifestyle
I wondered if you can take us back to that point where you did make that decision and give us some helpful tips on things that you learned that you would perhaps change in the way you did the switch from corporate to entrepreneurial lifestyle.
Christian Rouffaert, Founder Of Teragence
Christian Rouffaert: I don’t know if I’m in a position to give tips, but I can share my experience. I think a lot of us who live the corporate life will have a level of dissatisfaction that we have with the lives that we live. The politics of the workplace, the bureaucracy, we get squeezed into a corner and that frustrates us. The flipside of that, and this is really important to understand, is you do have a regular income.
What happens when you live in that situation is that you become — as somebody described it to me — a lab rat.
It’s a negative image, so let’s call it a lab hamster. Basically, the lab hamster goes to a machine, pushes it, and a pellet is produced. That hamster very quickly understands the relationship between pushing the lever and getting the pellet. He might not like the lever, and he might not like the fact that he has to push the lever, but he gets very quickly conditioned that if he does that, a pellet will be produced.
Meanwhile, the hamster has all these ideas of how the world will be better and what he could do, and he might have done an MBA where he’s learned the tricks of the trade, and he’s spoken to other people, so one day the hamster breaks out from his cage with pellets and the machine, and he comes out in the wide world.
What you will do as a corporate hamster is you will look for a new lever to push, which might be:
“Well, I learned that to run a business I need to do A, B and C. I will do A, B and C, therefore a pellet will be produced.”
The shock to the system comes that actually nothing is produced, because your idea might not be right, you might not have been pushing the right buttons… Nothing happens. There is no feedback on what you do.
What you realize is that as an entrepreneur there is a significant period where you have to work and try things and do things without actually any feedback — no feedback in terms of salary, no feedback in terms of money, and no feedback in terms of people saying that’s actually interesting or good, because most people in that conception stage will look at you and say:
“It sounds kind of interesting”
they will politely say that’s interesting, but actually not do very much.
So you are in this world where you had the certainty… At the end of the month, I will push the lever, a food pellet will be produced; and yes, life was a bit tough, but there will be food on the table at the end of the month…
To a world where this is not the reality for a long time.
You have to improvise, hustle and work through that without any pellets being produced.
If you’re lucky and if you’re good and if you do that long enough, slowly things will change. You can find your product and people will start to engage with you, will start to pay you money, but it’s a process of continuous change and understanding how you should do things, and adjusting.
In the hamster analogy, from pushing a lever and getting a pellet, you now have to forage for your food, and you sometimes have to forage in corners and places that you never suspected existed, or you could never imagine that you would go.
That’s quite a big, transformative thing, because up until that time you did a good job, you got a reward in some shape or form.
In entrepreneurial life….
you might be doing a good job for a long time and nothing might happen.
Then slowly you kind of grip into the market, you get traction, you get your funding, you get your first revenue, and then things slowly change. But the process, the mentality and the emotional resilience that is required for that is quite something that’s fundamentally different.
I’ve gained a very much newfound respect for people who have been able to do that, and of course I respect myself because I have gone through this journey…
But it is a fundamental change in mentality that is not to be underestimated. Running a business is not running a recipe book and expecting the cake to come out perfect. It’s doing everything right in the recipe book and the cake might come out wrong five times, and only the sixth time, with your last flour and your last eggs will something come out that somebody will pay money for. That’s the experience…
Which is good, and also quite disturbing. But if you do it right, you come out on the end and it’s a great kick, and you’ll never look back.
Thanks for reading! The full episode and transcript are on The App Guy Podcast website (episode 510) or search Paul Kemp in your favourite podcasting app