what to do next?

This week I've been thinking quite intently about what to do next in my career. I'm still employed at Canonical, currently managing part of the launchpad.net team, but I'm thinking about what I want to do now. As Canonical keeps growing, there are new opportunities, and I've really enjoyed work there - I love using Ubuntu and Bazaar every day, and I used them even before I worked at Canonical.

In addition to my full-time job at Canonical, I've been helping out at Statiksoft, giving guidance on business issues, technology choices, generally trying to be a good cofounder without getting in the way, since I already have a full-time job. Business is good there, surprisingly good, and we've been discussing interesting things like how much time to spend doing project and consulting work, and how much to invest in building a product. I quite enjoy my work here too, and it is a very different challenge being an owner than it is being an employee. It would be quite fun to go work on Statiksoft full-time, but I imagine the first few months would be pretty tight, cash-flow wise.

The recruiters tell me that there are also many interesting opportunities in the wide world of software development, even with my insistence on working on projects that are friendly to and give back to open source. I think the parameters I most look for in a job is a strong mission to be accomplished, great freedom (within the resources that are available) to accomplish that mission, and working with people I respect on a variety of tasks. After many years of extensive international business travel, I decided this year to completely stop travelling for work, because my wife has been ill, and I need to help care for my daughter. While this has made some aspects of working on a distributed team much more difficult (particularly because I am currently a manager), I have seen it pay huge rewards in how happy my wife and daughter are, and how close I feel to them. I'm not sure how long I'll be able to refuse to travel, certainly paying the medical bills is pretty important too, but it's been worthwhile so far.

One development that I really like about the job market in the last few years is how intensely personal business is becoming. I'm no longer a faceless engineer or manager working as a cog, no matter how large or small my employer - after all, you're reading my personal blog, can see samples of my work, can search the internet to see how I interact in both positive and negative situations in a community of my peers, who I've worked with, etc. While many employers (and employees) have yet to realize that this shift is happening, I think it is a very good thing, making it much easier for people to find a good fit (and to avoid the rare bad apples or poisonous people).

I've been reading this book called Flow, which is about the psychology of happiness (optimal experience). One of the things I agree with about this book is the premise that happiness cannot be obtained directly - you obtain happiness indirectly by doing things that have value and meaning. For example, you can be very happy in a job you don't enjoy if you appreciate being able to provide for your family, while you could be miserable in your dream job if it meant losing touch with people who were important to you (partner/children/etc). It's fascinating, the book points out that a common experience of "flow" is not noticing the passage of time - and that's certainly something I experience regularly both when working on a software problem and when relaxing with my family, so I'm pretty lucky there I think.

Here are my LinkedIn profile and my resume(which includes my phone number). If you think you'd like to work with me, or have a suggestion for a project that I would like, you are welcome to give me a call - I promise to take you seriously, and do my best to recommend someone if it turns out I'm not a good fit or not available. If you want to hear my dorky sense of humor, give a listen to Launchpod, the podcast I've recently been cohosting. I'd also like to give you a link to the current job openings at Canonical, which is truly a fabulous place to work, highly recommended. How's that for transparency?