Career Limiting Moves

I recently wrote in my EMC internal blog about transparency. My goal was to demonstrate that while opening yourself, your product, and your organization to the world (or at least the company) might be risky, there was inherent risk in sitting out while others did it. In fact, I used a very similar argument when describing to a friend why I was starting this blog.

There’s a quiet assumption in that, which I didn’t realize until I started listening to and reading the feedback I was getting. I’m assuming that the motion I’m seeing is progressive – that we as a company (and industry,  and culture) are moving in a direction where further transparency on a personal and institutional level are inevitable. In other words, I’m assuming this isn’t a fad.

I received some pretty heartfelt feedback, talking about the increased risks of individuals making terrible mistakes in front of thousands of people, limiting or even ending their careers. The permanence of this medium is not lost on anyone. In a heated moment, you can post a message, and a decade from now your next employer can find it by Googling you.

Why would people open themselves up to that kind of risk?

I take a different view, obviously. I’m thinking in terms of a much less drastic type of Career Limiting Move, one that follows the concept of opportunity cost. The opportunities I would lose by “waiting and seeing” seem to me to offset the risk I incur by engaging instead of lurking.

Maybe some Vice President will see my blog and take offense at something I’m doing, and he’ll run me out of the company for it.  Then again, maybe I’ll expand my network by an order of magnitude, connect with people driving the future of the industry, and gain a new understanding of the strategy and vision behind the company, leading to untold new opportunities.

Maybe the truth is somewhere between those two.


#1 the storage anarchist on 06.05.08 at 8:09 pm

Or maybe you’ll help demonstrate that the reward outweighs the risk, and that it takes only a modicom of common sense to stay between the lines.

Then again, you could join ‘Zilla and me in our quest to expand the size of the “safe zone” in between the lines.

IMHO, there’s never enough room for fresh ideas, radical opinions and courteous disagreement. No Rules – Just Right!!!

Thanks for the perspectives and insights, Dave = both inside and outside the firewall…

#2 scottsh on 06.10.08 at 9:50 am

I think you’re taking an extremely positive and optimistic view which is excellent. However, I can tell you that when I changed jobs a couple of years back one of my new employees mentioned that before I arrived they had Google’d me and found things out about me. It was all benign and nothing I was embarrased about, but it did remind me that unless your name is Joe Smith you’re probably not as anonymous as you think.

#3 Dave on 06.10.08 at 11:24 am

Scott, you raise an interesting point. I have no illusions about being truly anonymous any more – even my “anonymous” web presence would be fairly easy to tie to my “real” web presence if you had the inclination and the spare time.

Of course, like you, I hope nothing someone would find would stop them from hiring me (or promoting, say), unless they just have a policy not to hire anyone who blogs, plays video games, or has an unusual fondness for certain kinds of music. I guess my gamble is that I wouldn’t want to work for that kind of company, and that the more time goes by, the more likely that kind of company won’t be a desirable place to work anyway.

That wouldn’t stop me from being uncomfortable if I knew that level of deep digging was going on….