“Oh my gosh, Jim, you’re the hot girl at the dance!”

A former boss called to ask about my week on the job hunt, and that’s what she said after I told her.

Potawatomi dancers
This is an American Indian dancing at a Potawatomi pow-wow. This isn’t the kind of dancing I’m talking about, but I’ve taken few photos that relate to dancing! I feel like I can get away with this because I’m part Potawatomi.

What a week it was! I landed a short-term consulting job with a startup software company. It starts today. An interview with a different company went very well, wrapping with the interviewer saying, “I think you need to meet the partners. I’ll schedule that for next week.” Thanks to introductions from a couple key colleagues, I had lunch or coffee with a handful of software-company presidents and vice presidents, and the chief financial officer at a venture-capital firm that funds startup tech companies. And that former boss even admitted that she was trying to make funds appear to hire me.

I am astonished.

Some context: for about the last 10 years here in Indianapolis, tech has been hot. Qualified people are hard to find. The last time I hired someone, I searched four months to find him.

And then in the past few weeks, I learned that the city’s tech scene is even hotter than I knew. A colleague who owns a consulting firm that serves this industry told me that he knows of about 200 local companies that make software. Most are very small, he said, with fewer than 20 people; many will wash out. But new startup companies are forming all the time. The venture-capital CFO told me that in five years, he expects as many as 300 more tech companies to form.

I had no idea that I’m swimming in so much opportunity. I’ve learned of it only as I’ve reconnected with colleagues I’ve worked with long ago. Many of them are now in executive roles and are well connected in the industry, and are bending over backwards to help me. It helps a lot that I’ve done good work in my career and people have (for the most part!) enjoyed working with me.

It makes me wish I’d stayed well connected with the good people from earlier in my career. I wrote about this on my software blog; read it here. Like I said there, Iā€™m an introvert of working-class roots ā€” a fellow who prefers to keep to himself and let his work speak for itself.

I brought this up to another colleague last week over coffee. He was the president of a software company I used to work for, and has since started his own company. “Jim, you now have two jobs,” he said. “Whatever you’re doing to earn a paycheck, and maintaining and expanding your network.” He admitted his own introversion, but said that he’s worked hard to stay well connected. It’s how he’s built his new business. “You can build these habits too. You should.”

I will.


11 responses to “The hot girl at the dance”

  1. Jason Shafer Avatar
    Jason Shafer

    “An introvert with working class routes…who prefers to keep to himself and let his work speak for itself”

    That really hits home and you have succinctly stated what I have tried to articulate for myself. That said, what you have written here in regard to your job search is sounds like – despite the circumstances – you are in a very enviable position.

    Best wishes as this journey unfolds.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      I am in a remarkable position. I think it’s partly because I do have some very useful skills, but more because there’s just a ton of opportunity right now. Last time I was unemployed I was the same guy in a land of very little opportunity (it was 2002, after the dot-com bubble burst), and I had a very different story to tell.

  2. Gerald Avatar

    When I read the title, I thought this post when going to go off in an entirely different direction…..

    Anyway, really pleased that things are looking so positive for you.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Yeah, I’m sure the text does seem kind of surprising after that title…..

  3. JPC Avatar

    Excellent news, Jim. I share your basic character trait in that I too am an introverted guy who would prefer to avoid the hard work of meeting and staying in touch with others. I am very happy to hear that things are breaking your way.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      It’s not easy to put myself out there; I’d rather stay home. But I can see how valuable it will be to keep in touch with the shifting landscapes of my industry and to be aware of opportunities as they arise.

  4. hmunro Avatar

    I’m *thrilled* to read your update, Jim ā€” but not at all surprised. Just by following your blog these past couple of years I’ve gotten a strong sense of your emotional intelligence, discipline, attention to detail, and technical competence. I would think such a combination of traits would be irresistible to an employer. So bask in being the hot girl at the dance! (A description that cracks me up.) You’ve earned it.

    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Heather! It’s been a whirlwind. Thanks for saying such nice things about me. I’m a little surprised some of that transmits through my blog!

      1. hmunro Avatar

        Absolutely, a lot of your traits transmit through your blog ā€” for instance, the fact that you have an “editorial calendar” of sorts and schedule posts ahead of time speaks volumes about your self-discipline and organization. Ditto for the kind way you respond to comments, even when someone is disagreeing with your perspective on something. :)

  5. Heath Matthias (@HMATTHIAS) Avatar

    Great news Jim, but I am not surprised. When I worked with you I found you were one of the few QA managers who would listen to developer concerns and not think we were just being whiny developers. I appreciated that. Hope you find a great new job!


    1. Jim Grey Avatar

      Thanks Heath! I used to write code a long time ago; I’m sympathetic.

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