Tom Ramcigam (magicmarmot) wrote,
Tom Ramcigam

Dancing to a different drummer

I'm definitely a non-traditional type of guy. I have been for a long time, pretty much since high school. I'm highly attracted to creative pursuits; I originally had a career in radio and television before going on to college for a couple of degrees.
At one time, radio was an attractive career choice. I have a good voice, and a pretty good performance ability (well I think so anyway), and I'm not really pretty enough to be a movie star. The concept of being famous while still being anonymous was pretty cool, but the reality was that radio was pretty much like any other business: full of politics, idiot policies, and clueless management. The things I liked about radio and TV were primarily dealing with the creative and technical aspects of production-- the times I had the most fun were when I was let loose to create-- and the things I hated were primarily dealing with people (clients and management).

When I got into college, there was really no program for what I wanted to do, so I ended up with a kind of specialized program split across two disciplines (computer science and physics), and I did the seven-year plan. I did end up with two degrees, which seems kinda worthwhile, but after more than ten years it's kinda left in the dust and the work experience becomes the most important.

I've only had one real permanent job since college. Back then, I thought that once I had a job, I was set. Boy, was I wrong. That company went public while I was working there, and it changed for the worse. They began doing things that I considered unethical (though technically legal) for the sake of the bottom line, and the final straw came when a project that I was working on was sent to a customer before I had released it, and I was the principal designer. When I complained, I was told that I did not have the authority to make that decision, even though I was responsible for the product. Thus came my first lesson in Responsibility without Authority, otherwise known as the Scapegoat Syndrome.

Shortly after that, I became a contract engineer, otherwise known as a mercenary. On the upside, I've had some really good experiences, and learned a lot; I even had one contract stint that lasted for five years, where I got to do some really good designs and see some projects through to completion. Unfortunately, the company collapsed in on itself, and being a contractor, I was the first casualty. Second lesson: contractors are the first to go.

After that came a stint of short-term contracts (anywhere from a couple weeks to six months), which has kinda been my mode of operation since. More lessons: there is no such thing as job security; most companies do not understand creativity; and perhaps the most important, you are responsible for your own destiny (aka look out for #1).

I've also tried to do some of my own businesses, and I have a good understanding that I am not good at business. I tried for a bit to do video production for clients, and was exhausted by the time that I spent trying to hunt up paying work. My strengths are creative and technical, and definitely not in customer service. :)

I'm also very much into comfortable clothing. Working in an environment where I have to dress up or wear a tie drives me nuts. I'm a whole lot like the guys way back in the early days who made stuff in their garages. Entrepreneurs.

So what's the downside?

It costs money to be an entrepreneur these days. If I choose to dabble in the embedded controller market and create nifty devices, I first need the tools to do the design and development, and those tools aren't cheap. I do have some of them, and I'm in the process of building up a lab in the basement. Then there's the marvelous million-dollar idea. And right now, I'm a little short of those.

I could write software. I have the tools and the knowledge. But writing something worthwhile that hasn't already been done is difficult at best, as well as time-consuming.

Then there's the video production idea. I have the equipment. I even have some good ideas.

All of these ideas are good, but fall down behind the almighty need to actually make a living. I got hit hard with the economy crashing, and all of the savings that I did have are gone, and I'm in significant debt. And not having a steady job makes borrowing difficult to impossible.

So I need to suckle at the corporate teat in order to make ends meet, and try to explore my creative/entrepreneurial side in my time off. Minimize the risk, while trying to get myself int a position where I never have to work for someone else again.

Now if I could only win the lottery...
Tags: work

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