These days I’m reminded of a Saturday Night Live bit from the ’08 campaign, featuring an exchange between Sarah Palin & Hillary Clinton:
Palin: It’s truly amazing, and I think women everywhere can agree, that no matter your politics, it’s time for a woman to make it to the White House!
Clinton: No-o-o-o!! Mine!! It’s supposed to be mine!! I’m sorry, I need to say something. I didn’t want a woman to be President! I wanted to be President, and I just happen to be a woman!
I used to joke that I was largely unemployable, that my skills and ambitions are so specific that I could work at only a handful of companies, on a handful of projects*. Sometimes there’s not much joke to it.
I didn’t come to Adobe because I wanted to “develop software,” or “work in high tech,” or “do product management.” I came here to make Web design software suck less. Everything else–the working in marketing, the moving coast-to-coast three times in two years, the blogging, the whole up-at-dawn pride-swallowing siege–is just a means to that end.
Why do I mention this now? It’s a note to myself as much as anything. I’m not working on mobile software now because I want to work on mobile software per se, or to be trendy or whatever. I’m working on it to solve real, specific problems, and to enable myself & people I care about to express themselves in particular ways.
Would it be better to be broad rather than deep, to be an MBA who’s interested in expanding markets, vertical integration, and “the art of the deal,” instead of an unfrozen caveman Web designer with an obsessive interest in graphics software? I don’t know; maybe I never will.
“To thine own self be true.” I’m working on it.
* The night before a big demo few years ago, I had an anxiety dream in which I was being really obnoxious to my boss. Terribly disappointed in me, she said, “Wow, you were doing so well, and now… I could make one call, and you’d be product managing FrameMaker!” It was an illuminating moment: the deep threat isn’t losing my job, it’s working on something for which I lack passion.