After I posted my reply “How I became a Product Manager“, I got more questions from the reader:

Hello Freeman,

I did read the 2 blog posts and they are really a big HELP. Thank you.

There is one more thing I am curious about… As your roles changed all the way from R&D engineer to product engineer, are you staying in the same company, or, being focused on the same product? If not, I guess either of them can be a big change, right? Because that usually means you will have to start over – rebuild your professional network, and learn new technologies from the scratch. I am not saying this change is not good; it just feels like the years spent working as an R&D engineer is a waste of time and does not worth it. How did you deal with such a change back then?

Thanks again.

I did stayed in different companies and worked for different products. But the point is not being changing job or product.

Let me try to answer the questions. I do NOT think they are “big change”. I do NOT think I have to start it over. I do NOT think it means to “rebuild”, actually, I view it to “extend” my professional network. I do NOT think it is “learn… from scratch”. Instead I believe that most time my past experiences did help me now. I do not think “waste of time and not worth it” for your current R&D work.

The point is not the jobs themselves. The point is how you look at them, and whether you have got most from them.

I guess you might have read or watched the famous “Stay hungry, stay foolish” commencement address by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, delivered on June 12, 2005 at Stanford:

The first story is about connecting the dots.
…. (talking about calligraphy)
None of this had even a hope of any practical application in my life. But ten years later, when we were designing the first Macintosh computer, it all came back to me.

Of course it was impossible to connect the dots looking forward when I was in college. But it was very, very clear looking backwards ten years later.

Again, you can’t connect the dots looking forward; you can only connect them looking backwards. So you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future. You have to trust in something – your gut, destiny, life, karma, whatever.

My second story is about love and loss.
…(talking about how he got fired from Apple, the company he founded)
I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.

I’m pretty sure none of this would have happened if I hadn’t been fired from Apple.

And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.

So, deal reader, please be patient. Try to find the beauty of your current job. Try to get most of it (I bet you do not get most of it). There are always a lot things that you can learn from your current job. For example, try to ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you really do very well now? Are you a real expert for your current job? OK, you are doing R&D. Then what is your knowledge on R&D? Can you tell me what is a good R&D? We all know in software R&D, there are programmers and testers. Then what is a good programmer? What is a good tester? Are you a good one? Why is, or why not?
  • Tell me something about R&D process and methodology. What is your comment? If you are a R&D manager, how can you improve your current way of working in your current company?
  • Do you get appreciation from your boss and colleagues? Are you a good team member? How your boss and colleagues will comment on you? How do you comment your boss? If you think your boss is not so good, then image if you are in his position, then how will you do, are you sure you can do better than him? If so, then why you can do better than him? If not, then why you cannot do better than him?
  • What is the project or product that you are working on? What are the customers? What are your competitors? Try to visit your competitor company website, and tell me the difference between them and your company. Do you know any professional media, newspaper or magazine in your area? Do you regular read them? What are your comments?

I can ask even more dozens of questions. But first let me know your answers to the above questions.

Again, let me summarize my points and suggestions:

Believe your hard work now will NOT go Unrewarded, in other words, NOT “waste of time and not worth it”.

But ask yourself: Have you really work hard now? Think again on your current job. Try to get most of it. Think the above questions.

Believe Steve Job’s words “you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future.”

Know who you are, and find what you really love to do.

Follow your heart.

Good luck.