Thursday, September 2, 2010

Big Changes

The past year has been undoubtedly the most dynamic year of my existence. It's not that anything has been different from what most people experience during the course of life, just that everything has probably been a little more compact than typical. The last year has had all the major milestones - our wedding, a first (rented) condo, our first couch, our first two self-financed vehicles, our first house and major house renovation, moving family members, our first incoming baby, and a bunch of new furniture to fill up the home. It's been quite a shock to the system for a person who loved the mundane consistency of being alive. Not to sound too boring, but routine makes me happy.

To this list, I'd like to use this relevant space to announce one more major life change - a new job for me. This was a very difficult step to take voluntarily because I absolutely love what I did, the people I worked with, and the flexibility this work afforded me. On top of this, my job was exactly what I studied in school, and I had the opportunity to work from home with some frequency (especially brilliant when the snow was pounding down and my commute was a walk to the kitchen table). Why, then, would I ever consider leaving this position?

It is finally time to, almost literally, put my money where my mouth is. I've been talking about Michigan and supporting Michigan for so many years, and acting as a cheerleader to out-of-towners and negative in-towners, that after awhile, the thoughts and then words started to feel numb in my mouth. It can be tiring to espouse the virtues of one place constantly to people, and then it became a running joke with some people that I was a walking, talking, relentless billboard for the state - kind of like a Pure Michigan Tim Allen without anyone knowing or caring that I exist.

With great excitement and a fair amount of anxiety, I am happy to announce that my next professional step is directly aligned with the state of Michigan. A few months ago, a friend and professional acquaintance approached me to see if I had interest in directing a start up non-profit organization based in downtown Detroit. This organization is charged with creating a critical and necessary backbone for the state to promote entrepreneurship and small business development throughout the state of Michigan. Our primary goal is to intelligently and systematically match entrepreneurs and innovators with the tens of thousands of resources intended to support entrepreneurs available throughout the state. There is a little more to the work than this, but that's not a bad one-sentence description.

Thanks to the hard work by many people that aren't me (because yesterday was my first official day on the job), the (federal) Department of Commerce actually announced a formal partnership with my organization yesterday. That is quite exciting - now it is largely up to me to make sure that I don't screw it up.

This is an opportunity and a somewhat corny chance for me to actually make a difference - beyond the many dumb, irrelevant things that I try to write about regularly. For these reasons, the only right choice for me was to leave the work I love to actually work toward strengthening a state that I love. It wasn't necessarily an easy change, but it's one that I'm happy to have made.

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