Matt RaibleMatt Raible is a Java Champion and Developer Advocate at Okta. developer.okta.com

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10+ YEARS


Over 10 years ago, I wrote my first blog post. Since then, I've authored books, had kids, traveled the world, found Trish and blogged about it all.

What's next in my career?

I've been pretty fortunate in my career so far. A few years ago, I was attending Web Designer conferences, learning more about HTML, Photoshop and Flash. At those conferences, I admired the speakers, the relationships they had with other speakers and how they really seemed to be enjoying the "speaking lifestyle." I thought to myself, "that's what I want to do."

Fast forward to today and I feel like I've accomplished everything I ever wanted to in my career. Now I'm experiencing an interesting state of mind. I don't really know what I want to do next. I'm certainly enjoying being a consultant and getting new gigs every 3-6 months, but I know if you want to make any real money as a consultant, you have to travel. When I say "real money", I mean $200-$300/hour, which equates to $400K-$600K/year. The problem with consulting is I don't want to travel. At all.

So I can continue being a consultant, making pretty good money, but I'm yearning for something more. I don't know what the "more" is, but I feel like I should have a plan for the next 5-10 years. I've had a couple of good offers for full-time jobs recently. The problem is that full-time employment generally doesn't appeal to me. The main reason is because I don't want to take a 50% pay cut. The second reason is because I tend to take 2-3 months off per year, and finally - I never seem to be that interested in the hiring company's mission statement.

The 2-3 months off is probably a misnomer because many of those weeks are for conferences, but I doubt I'd find a company that'd send me to conferences and pay for it.

On Monday, I was discussing this with a potential employer/client - and it hit me. I think I need to share my career aspirations with a full-time employer's to make it work. Since I'm at a point where I I don't know what my goals/desires are - it's pretty tough for me to see myself working for anyone but myself. What I do know is that it would drastically help if starting the company was my idea. The problem with this is I don't really have the motivation to start my own company right now. Sure I have Raible Designs and all, but to make real money as a non-consultant, I think you have to have a product. I could hire a bunch of consultants, but I don't really want to manage people - it seems like it'd be more fun to develop, ship and support product(s). Then I wouldn't have to travel at least.

This is all to say that I don't know what I'll do next in my career. Heck, I don't even know what I want to do. One things for sure though - my current gig is one of the best I've ever had. Awesome team, good rate, great location and super-easy commute. I think I'd be a fool to quit before my contract ends at the end of the year.

What are your career aspirations for the next 5 years? The next 10?

Posted in General at Mar 30 2005, 10:58:30 PM MST 21 Comments
Comments:

Quite interessting blog because i think everybody knows that feeling that there must be more. I quit my employee status 1 1/2 years ago after realizing that woking for a company with a weird mission statement is no fun. Seeing me as one of the few developers/architects doing real IT <g> while the vast majority sells Lotus Notes or hardware boxes. So i was in the same situation, the only difference, i was employed back then.

I decided to create a company which is only a half company. I have 3 big customers where i am doing projects and consultancy for, but i am also doing contract work like most others freelancers. I am trying to achieve what Paul Graham calls quite hard in http://www.paulgraham.com/start.html. I am now developing a full blown product for one of my customers as a project and try to sell this product afterwards. I am aware of the fact that its terribly hard to convert from a consultant based company to a product based one. The point is, you have to do both for a certain time, because i dont have external funding and to be honest, i dont want to invest the time to try to get some. Right now i am developing the mentioned product (as part of a project where the customer will get a license at the end) and doing minor consultancy things besides this. The point is, it must end anytime this year, because i virtually dont have any private life anymore.

Back to your original question what my career aspirations are. Of course it would be nice to achieve my goal to convert to a product based company. Feel free to post more things about your personal career aspirations, its pretty interessting to see what people do and why they change their mind and create new things in the business world.

Posted by Marc Logemann on March 31, 2005 at 02:13 AM MST #

Funny you ask this... I started to work as a freelance consultant/developper on 01-01-2005 : I'm an absolute beginer. I am married and have two daughters (2 and 5 years old). My aspirations for the next 5 years : accomplishing the half of what you did profesionnaly while beeing the best dad I can be! Whatever you choose now, keep doing it like you do, looks like you do it the right way...

Posted by thogau on March 31, 2005 at 02:13 AM MST #

I am 24, I live in Italy and my career aspirations for the short terms are to go to live in New York, be a consultant and work with the technologies used in Appfuse. Probably I am at your beginning stage Matt :)

Posted by Cesidio on March 31, 2005 at 02:23 AM MST #

Matt,

I can't help but feel that by saying what you said, you said it ... but maybe you're missing the point?

Just in this entry, you've said that:

  • You have accomplished everything you ever wanted to
  • You enjoy being a consultant
  • You enjoy getting new gigs every 3-6 months
  • Your current gig is one of the best you've ever had, and that
  • You think you'd be a fool to quit before your contract ends at the end of the year

And those of us who've followed your blog for some time have seen you build your home, build your family and build your career.

You've done all these things, and now you're <q>yearning for something more</q>.

I'm one of those (few, it seems) people who do not believe that success is measured in $. Success is a state of mind, not bank balance. Success is the <em>feeling</em> you have when you've made $<em>n</em>, when you've got that lusted after gig/car/house/gadget or whatever ... and then it fades, and you're left looking for the <em>next</em> thing to succeed at, to keep the feeling topped up.

<strong>STOP!</strong>

You've tried all of that, it's great, but by your own admission you're still <q>yearning for more</q>. That's the nature of "success"; at the end of the day, you're never successful acheiving it!

So, try something different. Stop for a while, enjoy what you <em>already</em> have, think about what you've acheived in your <strong>whole</strong> life and what that really means to you. I'm sure you'll find, with deep enough reflection, is that what you <em>really</em> enjoy in life are the "little" things: your childrens' smiles, your wife's love, the sky at night, the smell of freshly mown grass, or whatever. It doesn't matter what it is, providing you give yourself enough time to be in the present, in the <em>now</em>, to really experience it.

What was the last thing you did that you <em>really</em> enjoyed? I think you posted a while back about a weekend with the wife and kids. If you think about that weekend for a bit, I think you'll remember that what was enjoyable about it was that you immersed yourself in it, you were <em>present</em>, in the moment, truly experiencing it. You didn't have anywhere else to go, anything else to do, so you stopped, focused in, and really <em>enjoyed</em> it.

I think, just by reading your blog, that your own experiences have been telling you what to do, where the next big thing is: it's right <em>here</em>, doing what you're doing!

I think by saying what you said, you said it! You enjoy doing what you're doing, it's the pursuit you enjoy, not the goal. So, enjoy it!

Cheers,
-Carl

PS: Sorry for the long post!

Posted by Carl on March 31, 2005 at 05:54 AM MST #

When I was deciding to leave my job, move away from the big city (New York) to a more affordable and enjoyable place (Portland, Maine), and start consulting and working from home, there was one thought that kept me going. When we're all sitting around 40 years from now, we're not going to be saying, "Hey, remember all those great times we had at work?" or "Some of my best memories are sitting in front of the computer or waiting in the airport." I think most of us would more likely be remembering stories of friends and/or family (and music, sports, great meals, drunken nights, exotic places, exotic people, ...).

If I wanted to make more money, I could have stayed in the big rat-race (either staying in New York where I was or traveling around like you're talking about), but I decided that at this point in my life, what's important to me are my family and my friends. If I can afford to keep my family and me happy and I can afford to work from home and take a few weeks off here and there, then that's what I want to do. I'm sure I can make more money doing something else, but I'd rather spend those extra hours with my wife, my two boys, my other family and friends; a nice selection of scotch, wine, and beer; a great selection of music; and a computer in sleep mode.

I just realized I haven't really answered your question yet. My goals in the next 5-10 years are to keep working from home, to take lots of little breaks in the day to watch my children, to take lots of big breaks in the year to travel, to keep playing and listening to good music, and to keep teaching and learning.

Congratulations on all you've accomplished so far, good luck with the operation, and enjoy the sunshine!

Cheers,

- stuart

Posted by Stuart on March 31, 2005 at 07:09 AM MST #

I'm in a similar situation, although I'm much older and not nearly as successful as you Matt. The thought about what to do next is always passing through my mind. Recently, I starting thinking that maybe my best opportunity for real success is the one that greets me with a hug every afternoon, my 3-year-old son. Good luck, Jeff

Posted by Jeff Boring on March 31, 2005 at 08:00 AM MST #

I would love to be in your position. I would like to see my career in 5 years being a consultant, speaking at conferences and writing books. Right now that would be nirvana for me. My problem also is that I also do not want to travel (except to speak at those conferences). I live in the Midwest (Southwest Missouri) and it is just so technically depressing here. I don?t want to move because all the family, mine as well as my wife?s, are all here. Consulting around here is very difficult to land consistent, decent paying gigs. I am therefore stuck working for a large fortune 500 company that just doesn?t get it about technology. A place were people have really no idea about technology are making the decisions. It is really depressing sometimes. I would say before you would think for working for someone else, a company, remember how nice you have it. No matter what a company promises up front they tend to change those promises based on what benefits them not you, which they probably should. I can only hope that a decent farmsourcing outfit will look here for some smart developers.

Posted by Travis Chase on March 31, 2005 at 08:06 AM MST #

As a technology-addicted person I'm nervous wondering if I will always be able to get a living out of my passion (or illness). I want to be in front where the great challenge are and in the mean time asking my self how long will I be able to keep up the pace. How to find the right balance in my life ? I want to keep doing contracts, I want to work for my own startup, maybe I should get a "real" job in a big big company, what about going back to school and change my carreer path, should I listen to my dad and stop coding (like kids do, as he mean) to become a project manager (like a man)... I'll keep doing like I feel. This way I can't be wrong !

Posted by Christian Gosselin on March 31, 2005 at 09:17 AM MST #

If you enjoy what you do, you like to go to work every morning, and you get to have quality time with the family, then you've already "made it". Trading any of these for better salary is a mistake in the long run. Or at least that's my opinion.

Posted by Jay on March 31, 2005 at 09:25 AM MST #

Hey Matt,

Interesting post. I live in Tucson AZ, which does not have the job market of Colorado where you live (near Denver right?). I've always wanted to live in Tucson. This is where I grew up (here Maryland and half a dozen other places.... My dad was in the Military, but this is where we finally landed when my dad retired).

It took me almost 10 years to get a good job in Tucson. I worked in the SF bay area for a while (7 years), and then three years in Phoenix AZ then back to SF for six months,... but finally Tucson. I got used to the SF rates. I took a job traveling when the job market here folded after the tech sector imploded. There were jobs but not at the rates I was used to. The market could not support it. Now that I have kids.... moving is not an option.

At first I traveled 50% of the time for two years (consulting and training). Then I decided to start my own consulting and training company with some friends (to avoid travel...HAH!). My travel went up to 80% (I only saw my family on the weekends for quite some time). Now I have scaled back quite a bit on travel. I take breaks between gigs. Also, I get some jobs where I can work from home. I take my family with me when I can as well.

I hire my friends. I work with some very talented folks.

I like living in Tucson. Travel is part of the deal. I like being a principal in a company and making key decisions. We also want to migrate to a product company one day. Currently, our only product is courseware. Even with that we get a lot of business (too much?). I am about to start a longer term gig (six months) with some really cool partners. The project will use JSF/Hibernate/Spring.

I enjoy what I do. My plan is to convert to a product company (this year is on the plan, but I have my doubts). I even have investors lined up who want to invest if I need it. Having worked for many startups, I prefer not to use investors. I prefer to grow a company based on revenue. It is hard enough to keep customers and employees happy....Keeping investors happy is a full time job. I don't want someone who made their money on coin operated laundry machines telling me how to run a software company. I digress.

My goal is to always be my own boss. This means I have to be more than a developer. I have to do some technical sales, contract negotiations, marketing, etc. I like the mix. Maybe one day we will be large enough so I can just focus on being a developer or a dev manager.

I actually enjoy managing teams of developers and think I am good at it. I enjoy motivating a team to finish tough projects. I was director of developement at a software company once. It was a blast. We really turned things around and created a great environment to work. At that same company, I got a chance to work with some real visionaries (no name dropping).

Posted by Rick Hightower on March 31, 2005 at 11:04 AM MST #

<!DOCENGINE HTML PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.01 Transitional//EN" "http://www.w3.org/TR/html4/loose.dtd"> <html> <head> <meta http-equiv="Content-Type" content="text/html; charset=iso-8859-1"> <title>Untitled Document</title> <style type="text/css"> <!-- .style1 { font-family: Verdana, Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: 10pt; } --> </style> </head> <body> <p class="style1">Hi Matt,

<p class="style1">Thanks for your post. Your blog is always fun and educational to read.

<p class="style1">I don't know if you realize this but you are an inspiration to many, many developers. Your grasp of technology compliments your excellent ability to explain that technology. Not everyone can grasp and implement a tapestry front end to a java application in a few hours of playing around at night!

<p class="style1">Another thing you may or may not be aware of is the number of hits your site is getting. Any search that has some combination of the words java, web app, displaytags, appfuse, frameworks, etc will have a link with Raible in the top 10.

<p class="style1">It seems to me the logical next step to what you have done is... "Lighting Web Apps With Java: Using Open Source Java Tools To Bring Your Application To The Web In Record Time" by Matt Raible.

<p class="style1">Great book title, eh? The work on the book would be accompanied by an even more robust version of the Appfuse Development Environment. (The ADE :)

<p class="style1">And here's the big bucks: Training seminars on that technology. You mentioned $200 - $300/hour. That's easy. Teach a 2 day class called "Jumpstarting Your Open Source Java Development" with 15 students in it and charge each student $300. With your (well-deserved) reputation I bet you could sell out 2 a month no problem.

<p class="style1">Then you can look at the model adopted by Philip Greenspun (philip.greenspun.com), the guy who started photo.net, when he started training and mentoring groups of consultants. You can train and mentor other development teams to use the great Java open source stuff and still keep your hand in development as a senior consultant and troubleshooter.

<p class="style1">Once again, thank you very much for the invaluable aid your work has given me in doing my development work.

<p class="style1">

</body> </html>

Posted by Phil Hersh on March 31, 2005 at 11:59 AM MST #

i am working hard for more than 10 years in IT industry. i have an almost-empty bank account without wasting money (really), i do not own a home, and i do not think i will have the money to have one. i consider myself as a good developer, and a good system architect-candidate. i do open-source, try new things.. but it is like a curse, from the point i look at myself, i am doing stuff new graduated people should've been doing. sadly i could not have a kid either.. very frequently i am wishing not to work in IT industry but doing a hard-labor job for half the money. at least i would be far away from mental-stress. anyway, let me cut it here. why i said those things? you should thank to God for your situation, if you are enjoying what you are doing already, you do not need a carier change. Only thing you should do more, is give more time to your family - and yourself. Write articles, refuse some jobs, cut attending boring meetings, educate-direct people for future, and develope for fun.. :)

Posted by aXa on March 31, 2005 at 12:09 PM MST #

Go to school part time, get your master's (and maybe phd) and teach. I know quite a few professors that did both teaching and consulting. You're a little bit more tied down with what time you can take off, but not tremendously so. Given your speaking background, I think you'd find it both natural and rewarding. My 2cents.

Posted by Ryan Tyer on March 31, 2005 at 12:52 PM MST #

The fact that you haven't taken the traveling gigs shows you DO know what is important. So... how do you balance family life with your brilliance? Because you get bored FAST. That's why learning and tough challenges is such a kick! Pull off a "Robert Rodriquez", perhaps? He's the "El Mariachi", "Sin City" director who refuses to work in Hollywood, works at home in Texas, creating his own movies and ends up hiring his kids. THAT is success. I mean, put your own slant to it, do the type of business you love and keep your family involved. You'll figure it out. You always do man!

Posted by Christina on March 31, 2005 at 01:08 PM MST #

You are all incredibly inspiring. Seriously. Thanks for that.

Posted by John Tangney on March 31, 2005 at 01:14 PM MST #

I usually read through a few blogs passively trying to grab tidbits of useful info without commenting but I got to comment here.

"This is your life, it doesn't get any better than this. This is your life, and it's ending one minute at a time." - (Fight Club)

Get a grip! You sound like your going on 50 but your almost 31. You probably make at least 4 times the national average salary @ $36,764 a year. I bet if you stay on par with your last few years you?ll surpass $200k annually well inside of 4 years

Now bring on some antipatterns. We need to know what doesn?t work.

Posted by Travis on March 31, 2005 at 01:41 PM MST #

Do what other people did in your similar position, which is a common offering from sillicon valley high tech companies to their very top technical contributors, full or partial salary included:

Take one sabbatical year.

And what are you going to do?

* Fulfill your childhood dreams!
* Switch to a totally different career
* Participate in volunteer programs

For this, my inspiration is Nathan Myhrvold, who left his Microsoft CTO job in June '99 to go digging for dinosaurs!

After that he founded his highly speculative company

Posted by R. Robles on March 31, 2005 at 07:20 PM MST #

I agree what people are saying about enjoying life. It sounds like you have a really healthy balanced lifestyle. This is a good thing. A very good thing. By the volume to your site, people like you. That said... I think there are better ways to capitalize on your name recognition, and still maintain balance. The devil is in the details. RE: "I've accomplished everything I ever wanted to in my career" I feel the same way about my career. My expectations were pretty narrow. They were easy to exceed. :o) I was voted least likely to succeed in H.S. (not really, but not far from the truth). I often wonder what are the next steps with the company, and my career. I think this is natural. It is built into our culture (U.S. culture). This does not mean I am not happy with what I got. I am. (BTW That statement is not meant to sound xenophobic.) I am thinking about getting my MBA. I want to study technical marketing. Are you still working crazy hours? I remember when we were in Santa Clara at SD west. You were burning both ends of the candle. You know eventually you grow out of this work ethic or you die. I had a boss and mentor who burned both ends of the candle. He died early. I heard this happens so often in Japan that they have a name for it. Hey next time you come to Tucson stop by. It was good seeing you last time you were in town. There are some killer places to hike where I live. My ranch borders the wildlife preserve. It is crazy the animals you see. Give me some advance notice and I will get a permit to the preserve.

Posted by Rick Hightower on March 31, 2005 at 10:48 PM MST #

Carl - you've written some powerful words. Thanks. You've helped me realize how good I have it.

Posted by Matt Raible on April 03, 2005 at 03:04 PM MDT #

Matt, I used to work for Sun Microsystems, where I used to feed my technology hunger and had a heavy travel schedule. I shifted to a major financial company, also in New York city, dropped the travel and am making great money. My commute is 20 minutes, yet, with one daughter and a great wife I've had silly notions of shirking it all and starting, I dunno, a small pizza shop or like. A whole lot less money, but now I'd have the freedom of doing as I wish, i.e. late nights hacking the Linux kernel. I think the tech industry, due to it's dynacism, brings many individuals at a certain crossroad where we don't know what we want to do any more. It's why I've gotten into management :)

Posted by Jamiel Sheikh on April 04, 2005 at 08:34 AM MDT #

What you wrote in the blog entry is similar to what I experienced 5 years ago. I was wondering what's next in my career. One thing that helped me realize what's important in life is reading a book, the title is Tuesdays With Morrie, by Mitch Albom.

One quote I really like is about people haven't found meaning in lives. (Though I think you have lots of meanings in your life already Matt, it's just you may not realise how valuable they are compared to what's next in career). I search google for the quote <a href="http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=%22people+haven%27t+found+meaning+in+their+lives%22&btnG=Search ">http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&client=firefox-a&rls=org.mozilla%3Aen-US%3Aofficial&q=%22people+haven%27t+found+meaning+in+their+lives%22&btnG=Search

And found this web site which lists some of the best quotes from Morrie Schwartz about what's important in life: http://mbledug.com/lontar/morrie.jsp.

Hope the quotes can be enlightening :).

And one last thing, Matt, always remember that you have been doing great with your family. What's next in your career is what you have at the moment.

Posted by Tom Ticualu on April 08, 2005 at 07:29 AM MDT #

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