Friday, October 12, 2012

Hold Your Nose and Go!

The divide between business professionals and engineering professionals spawns hundreds of heartfelt discussions among cliques of engineers and business types every day. Fundamentally, they are about the differences and divisions between these groups who both believe that theirs is the group that brings the most value to the business. At former employers, it could be heard from very senior engineers that engineering is where the rubber meets the road in the value creation of a business venture. Business types would argue that the products can be great, but without great vision and great marketing, the venture would be sunk.

Further, engineers see the world through meritocratic eyes, while business types seem to see things though an opportunistic lens. One side favors hustle and grit, the other favors the pursuit of quality and fairness. And ne'er the twain shall meet.

That's why its so hard to do this entrepreneur stuff.

If you're an engineer, good luck starting a company if you're not willing to hold your nose and go to networking meeting and develop business plans and work with business types who are often unsavory and materialistic (from your perspective).

If you're a business type, good luck starting a business without 1) either finding meritocratic engineering talent, or 2) holding your nose and doing the engineering stuff yourself. All the guys like you who can do the engineering stuff... they won't partner with you. They're too busy executing on their own vision. [1]

You're a product of nurture here. You were surrounded by people like yourself all this time while you worked for other people. They influenced your thinking, your attitude toward members of the opposite role, and they taught you what was all wrong with the other side's approaches. You've been sold a way of thinking, and its really hard to get past those biases.

If you're an engineer, you owe it to yourself to immerse your career into a marketing- or sales-driven company. You'll learn so much about what kinds of things you need to do to thrive in a very hostile and thick-skinned market. Hiding behind overly-technical descriptions of stuff won't help you here. It will isolate you and kill your chance to learn anything from people around you.

If you're a business guy, well, there are lots of quasi-technical roles at small companies that will give you a chance to engage with engineers. You might consider leaving your double-talking and business lingo (BS) at home.

Just hold your nose, and go!

[1] Which brings up an interesting point: the people that are the wrong kind of partners are the kind that easily say yes. Not that they're bad people, but they've either 1) got no vision or drive to work on stuff themselves, or 2) too nice to say no. Either way, not a good fit for you right now.

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