Exit Strategy

Since graduating from UND with my undergraduate degee in 2001 (I majored in Information Systems), I’ve been working for EduTech (previously known as SENDIT), a North Dakota state organization dedicated to assisting ND K-12 schools with technology. I spent the first couple of years serving schools in the northeast part of the state, offering advice and training workshops for teachers and staff. In the summer of 2003, I moved into my current position as web developer, which has let me focus on creating online tools to support our staff and improving the website experience for our customers. Both jobs stretched and challenged me in unique ways by exposing me to new ideas and experiences, helping to make me the person I am today. And, I had the most amazing group of coworkers and supervisors you can imagine. I couldn’t have asked for a better first job.

By now, you probably see where this is going. Monday morning, I turned in my letter of resignation and gave three weeks notice to my supervisor. Why? I was approached with the rare opportunity to work for a new startup company here in Grand Forks. I can’t really tell you any more than that right now for various reasons, but it should all become public in a few months. Since my interests have been trending towards business and innovation in the last few years, Casey and I both thought this was something that fits into my goals and passions. Plus, if I didn’t take this risk now, I really believe I would have come to regret it. I’m reminded of some words of wisdom by Mark Twain:

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.

If there’s anything that’s stuck in my mind from all of my reading on business, innovation, and creativity, it’s that successful people and organizations, those we call “remarkable”, aren’t afraid to take risks. In fact, they take lots of them. Sure, they lose their fair share of the time, but they learn from their mistakes and keep moving forward. I truly believe Seth Godin is right when he says “safe is risky“.

In my last few weeks at EduTech I’ll be busy documenting my projects and tying up any loose ends. My goal is to make the transition as painless and trouble-free as humanly possible for my coworkers and the person who will eventually replace me. I want to leave the organization the organization a better place than when I first joined. Chad Dickerson put it best when he left Infoworld for Yahoo!:

A commitment to a new employer doesn’t absolve you of responsibilities to a current employer that has treated you well, put food on your table, and trained you for the next stage of your career. Not only should you not burn bridges, you should try to fill in a few potholes and touch up some peeling paint as you exit. It’s the right thing to do.

For all EduTech has given me, it’s the least I can do.