Opportunities

I am leaving Botify and joining Synthesio as an infrastructure manager. 14 months after leaving blueKiwi, this was an unexpected move, but there are opportunities one would be stupid to miss. Joining Synthesio is obviously one of them.

Synthesio, in case you’re not familiar with it, is a French e-reputation monitoring company established in Paris, London, New-York and Singapore. The company has an impressive growth and they’re offering me hard to refuse technical and human challenges.

Knowing which opportunities to take and which you must refuse is no easy thing. In the past, I’ve accepted some of them by default because I had a family to feed, and we’ve spent a few years in a constant emergency. Most of the time, it was hasty decisions that turned into mistakes, which is the reason why I’m writing about opportunities today.

In June, I had an opportunity to join a startup I’m a fan of as a CTO. The CEO is an impressive guy, there was already a MVP, a comfortable seed round, I had enough shares to start dreaming of retiring at 45. Indeed, it meant giving up on a comfortable salary for a while and being back in startup mode, but I believed in the project so much I was ready to do it.

It was a lifetime opportunity, but I refused.

I refused for many reasons, the main one being my wife who was fed up to see me working 24/7. At Botify, I was able to balance my work and life for the first time since 2003 and she liked it. The kids liked it too, and I liked the fact they liked it and the quality time we were able to take together.

After spending 3 weeks without sleeping, discussing with some friends and trying to clear the mess my mind had became, I sent the CEO and the investors an email telling them I would not join the company. That day, I cried for the first time since my daughter was born. I was sure my wife would not leave me if I gave it a go, but it was decision too heavy for the family and I could not take it alone. I spent one more month not sleeping, thinking about what I had just refused, one of them being giving up on having my own company.

It took me 3 months to admit it, but I know it was the right decision from the very beginning.

6 years ago, I woke up with a terrible hangover: the little baby I was feeding during the night a few months later was reading, writing and playing tennis. The few months turned into years, and I missed most of them. Since then, I’ve spent many times trying to convince myself I didn’t have the choice. I’m still not sure.

A few days after I refused, Alexandre Heimburger caught me on IRC and suggested I could join him at Synthesio. Alexandre has been my manager for 6 years, and when I left blueKiwi, we agreed we would work together again if we had the opportunity. But I was not ready. I had just refused an incredible opportunity, things were moving the interested at Botify, and I was not sure I wanted to move anymore. Summer was coming, I was about to leave for a 3 weeks vacation, and we agreed to get in touch after we’re both back and on track.

Mid August, I met Alexandre in my favorite ramen place. Noisy and busy Kintaro’s definitely not the best place to talk business, but it was a good one to take news from an old friend (or being asked to be another old friend’s best man, or to learn another friend is pregnant). What he was offering was challenging and exciting enough to winkle any regret outside of me. 10 days later, I had met Thibault Hanin and Christophe and knew Synthesio was the place I was going to work next.

3 days later, before I even had my contract, I resigned from Botify.

It may seem paradoxical but Synthesio is not a company I would have imagined I would work. It’s far from being a startup anymore. With about 100 employees, it’s 3 times bigger than the biggest company I’ve ever been employed by. And I always imagined I would leave Botify to create my own business.

It may seem even more paradoxical, but accepting to join Synthesio was as hard as refusing the CTO opportunity. Botify is the most mind blowing technical team I’ve ever worked with. I’ve learnt a tremendous amount of things with them, and I know they had at least as much to teach me. And to make things harder, I hired as a replacement the exact kind of guy I’d love to work with.

Also I still had things to do.

Leaving blueKiwi was a dead obvious decision to me. I had spent too much time there, and I had been sitting in my comfort zone watching tennis all day for months. At Botify, I still had lots of things to build, and leaving before I had finished them was bothering me.

Ironically, the best help I’ve ever had in making decisions comes from my former colleague and friend Greg. As I was running around in circles not knowing if I had to accept that CTO opportunity, he told me to read Heath Brothers Decisive: How to Make Better Choices in Life and Work. I’ve read more self improvement books that I can count but Decisive was a great help to me.

Decisive did not came with ready made solutions, but gave me the methodology I needed to take the necessary distance and clean up my mind. I had always been good at taking immediate decisions you need to take in case of emergency, Decisive gave me the framework I needed to make decisions that involve my family and I for the next years to come.

Oh, there’s a lot of opportunities
If you know when to take them, you know?
There’s a lot of opportunities
If there aren’t, you can make them
Make or break them

Pet Shop Boys – Opportunities

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