There are many times in our lives when we’re faced with difficult decisions to make. These decisions can range from the seemingly impossible (“Should I quit my comfortable job with a cushy salary to start my own company?”), to the totally mundane (“Which brand of toothpaste should I buy?”). Over the past few years I’ve developed what I call The Great Equalizer when it comes to decision-making. I call it The Great Equalizer because no matter how complex, impactful, or life-changing these decisions are, it’s a method of simplifying everything down to the same level. It’s a surefire way of peeking into the future and seeing the effects of your decisions. If you ask yourself this one question in the face of a tough decision, it suddenly becomes very simple to make a choice. Are you ready to hear it?
The Great Equalizer
“Will I regret this later on in life?”
I was recently faced with the decision to join Tint as an intern (with no guarantee of a full time offer after the duration of the internship), or join another startup as a full time employee (with a great salary, equity, benefits, more security, and other great perks).
For me, this was a really tough decision to make. Not only was I moving across the entire country (from Boston), but I was also moving to San Francisco – one of the most expensive cities to live in. For someone that was unemployed from the start of this whole process, financial factors played a much larger role in making this decision than I normally would’ve liked. Following your heart is a lot more difficult to do when you have bills to pay and things like student loans to worry about.
I tried my hardest to take a step back from the money and analyze the big picture. I looked at each choice from a foundational perspective: happiness, trust, belief, and values. These things were all more important to me than money had ever been (and ever will be). I’ve always said I’d rather die as a man with rich experiences and fascinating stories than die as a man with a large balance in his bank account. I guess now it was time to practice what I preached.
Why did I choose a startup internship at Tint? It’s simple: because I’d regret it if I didn’t. To break it down further, there are three main reasons (in order of importance, to me at least):
- I believe in the team.
- I believe in the culture.
- I believe in the product.
Belief In The Team
I did it because I believe in the guys at Tint. I believe in their ability to lead, their ability to create, their ability to discover, and their ability to foster those three things in the everyone around them. After speaking at length with Tim over Skype and sharing a liter of beer with Brandon in San Francisco, I realized that I really enjoyed talking to and being around this team. I discovered that these guys have what it takes to lead and succeed. They have passion, raw intelligence, eloquence, and openness (no doubt as a result of Tint’s hiring process). Everyone that I’ve talked to has been friendly, supportive, patient, and hard working. The company’s pivot from a consumer-facing social bookmarking service to a B2B SaaS company showed me that they’ve tasted failure, learned from it, and grew stronger from it – to me that’s extremely important. Simply put, this team has mojo.
Belief In The Culture
Tint is a place with a company culture almost identical to what I’ve historically been a fervent supporter and advocate of. As far as company values go, Tint is almost utopic in my opinion. Embarrassingly, I wasn’t aware of this until further along in the interview process. When speaking with Tim I brought up the company Buffer, and I explained how I identify with the way they do things as a company. The resulting conversation made me realize that Tint strongly identifies with the culture of openness, transparency, honesty, teamwork, and adding value. After that day Tint jumped to the top of the list for me, and the remaining interview process solidified that for me.
Belief In The Product
This is what initially made me gravitate toward Tint. I mainly liked that the product was a B2B product with a consumer-facing application. The other things that really “wowed” me were the simplicity of setup, the total control of the feed’s content, look & feel, and the beautiful, dynamic & design-centric display of everything. Aside from these aspects of the product, I was amazed at the breadth of applications for Tint. Even from my own thoughts and brainstorming, I realized the wide range of applications and industries a Tint could be used in. That was super exciting!
In the end, I was placed in the position of making a difficult decision: do I stay on the (relatively) safe path – the path that has a very comfortable salary, full health benefits, and great promise for growth? Or do I “roll the dice”, take the plunge, and blaze a new trail for myself? To help make the decision I visited my trusty Great Equalizer. Suddenly, the decision became very easy to make. I recently read a great post on Quora by Amin Ariana that contains the following quote:
“The most successful animal in the animal kingdom is the lion living in the cage of a zoo. He gets his every meal, guaranteed and on time. He has no natural enemies. Even diseases and harsh climates are not a concern. Eat. Sleep. Die. If lions in the zoo could speak, they’d tell you ‘I don’t want this to be it.’”
I’ve generally always been an advocate for the road less traveled: don’t take the “safe” path or the cushy road. For me, now was the time stop talking about it and start doing it. I knew it was important to my personal and professional growth to be in an environment where I was hungry. Faced with a difficult decision that would impact both my personal and professional life for years to come, I knew I would have no regrets with my choice.
If you’re faced with a difficult decision, use The Great Equalizer to help you. Get out of your comfort zone, roll the dice, put yourself in a sink or swim scenario – and see what comes of it. You’ll be surprised what you’re actually capable of doing.