Not everyone's a star
by Douglas E. Welch
July 7, 2000
© 2000, Douglas E. Welch
Today it seems that everyone who works in the high-tech world
is striving towards the big IPO; the big score; the big payoff. As you sit in your cubicle watching the news come across your
screen you may start to wonder why you havent gotten your piece
of the pie. In reality, though, most people would prefer a long
and productive career over the stress and strife of a high-tech
It is a simple fact that it requires a certain personality type
to face the rigors of being a high-tech superstar. Even if you
have tremendous talent you must also have the ability to deal
with both massive failure and massive success. In most cases,
you will have to abandon the work you truly enjoy doing in order
to drive the success of a company as a whole. You wont find a
lot of time to program if you are constantly on the phone with
the press. Even with all that, the big payoff may never come.
The rewards are great, but sometimes, the costs are greater.
Long ago I realized that my interests lie in computer training
and support and these have never been considered very "sexy" areas
of the high-tech industry. Moreover, I prefer working with computer
users than touting IPOs to the press. I am more content knowing
that I have directly effected the lives of a few people instead
of potentially effecting the lives of millions. My role carries
less of a burden in stress and allows me to make a career doing
what I like.
Too many chiefs
There is an old saying about "too many chiefs and not enough Indians."
In some cases that's what we are seeing in high-tech industry
today. All the attention and money is going to a few high-tech
superstars while the rest of us strive to do actual, productive
work. In fact, without the support you offer to companies throughout
the world, these superstars could never accomplish their grand
designs. It is important to remember that you are the people that
make so much of the high-tech world possible. It is better to
let the stars take care of themselves and direct your own career
instead. If we were all stars who would be left to write the code,
build the web sites and networks and make sure that everyone else
can get the information they need, when they need it.
Keep on workin...
More importantly, as a high-tech worker, you will have a long
and productive career that can include many rewards in both money
and quality of life. One example from another industry is that
of the "character" actor in television and films. These actors
are the people we see again and again in a variety of different
roles. We might not know their names, but we easily recognize
them when we see them at the grocery store or dry cleaners. They
are not "stars", but they provide a good, often great life for
themselves and their families. They live in nice houses, drive
nice cars and do great work on a daily basis. Our television shows
and movies would be much diminished without their talents.
Many of you fill the roll of character actor in your companies.
You are not the star of the show, but you contribute talent and
hard work that helps others do their work. Despite what the press
and others might say, there is nothing wrong with doing good work
even if it doesnt make you a star.
The next time you start reading Time or Newsweeks profile of
the latest tech superstar dont measure yourself against them.
You can take any good advice they might offer, but look for signs
of their daily life and the work they do. Each one of you can
be a high-tech star if you wish. Hard work is the only real requirement.
In some cases, though, you will find that working in your own,
albeit small, area of influence can actually bring you larger
rewards with less stress on both your work and personal life.
Douglas E. Welch is a freelance writer and computer consultant
in Van Nuys, California. Readers can discuss career issues with
other readers by joining the Career Opportunities Discussion on
Douglas' web page at: http://www.welchwrite.com/
He can reached via email at email@example.com