Just four years ago I was halfway through my 16th year as an employee of world-famous NASDAQ, the US stock exchange.
Over that time, I’d risen through the ranks to ultimately hold the relatively senior position of Global Product Manager of one of the company’s premium offerings.
I was managing staff from around the globe; India, the Philippines and the US, product revenue was in excess of $20m per annum and in the previous few years I’d been to India, New York, Hong Kong, Poland, Geneva, Paris, London, Frankfurt and Milan.
Sounds glamourous and exciting, yes? It wasn’t. It was stressful!
Following the closure of a local office several years prior, I’d been working from home for six years. Whilst this was great when my son was born, and as he grew up during his pre-school years (spending time with him rather than commuting), it had become overwhelming.
I had no office colleagues to help me put issues into perspective and so every product problem and every client complaint became the biggest problem in the world. I couldn’t get them out of my head.
Managing teams and having clients from around the world meant it was 24/7. I simply didn’t have the option of leaving work and going home.
Eventually it all became too much, and I was signed off work for a month with anxiety. But of course, when I returned the same problems were still there. Counselling didn’t help either (in fact I’d convinced myself it wouldn’t work even before I tried it).
Over the same time, I’d been speaking with a good friend of mine about going to work for him at his company. But it was a huge decision to make; no longer did I just have myself to think about (that would have made the decision a simple one) but I had to think about my wife and son. I’d be giving up a great salary and pension, fantastic benefits, the safety of a 16-year redundancy package and the time I got to spend with my family as a result of working from home.
However, I’d noticed my mood at home slowly deteriorating – I was taking out my work frustrations on my wife and son and life was becoming more and more unpleasant and I was getting less and less sleep.
Eventually, after 12 months of back and forth I finally bit the bullet. I handed in my notice in December 2015 and March 2016 saw me join my mate at S3 Advertising. Yes, a COMPLETELY different industry, a vastly different sized business and something that, at the time, was completely alien to me.
But to cut a long story short, it was one of the best decisions I ever made.
Of course, there were stressful times, but by being in a supportive environment and working through problems together they became more manageable. I saw my family less, but the time I did spend with them was far more enjoyable.
And after only three years my mate sold that business through a management buyout, looked after me very well, and we moved onto the next venture.
You’ve guessed it, that mate is Matt Jones, CEO of MESOA For Men.
So now I know, if you’re in a rut, do something about it. If you don’t, then things will never improve. Take responsibility because you only have one chance.
Those who know me will say I’m the opposite to a risk taker, but sometimes a calculated risk will reap great rewards.