Have you ever thought about that all-too common question you’ve been asked since you were 5 years old: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
Then when you start working, you’ll be asked in interviews a variation of that question: “How do you see yourself in 5 years?”
Perhaps the reason why everyone is so concerned about the future is that they themselves have no idea what they want to do, or they’re stuck somewhere and they’re looking for inspiration.
I’ve been asked this question regularly when I talk about my career in I.T., especially as my college courses are not at all related to computer science. My best guess is that I’m so interested and passionate about what I’m doing, that there doesn’t seem to be any other logical thing to do except what I’m doing right now. I may not be a Silicon Valley startup that’s worth billions of dollars, but you don’t need to conform to other people’s vision of success. You just have to feel it.
As a child, I’ve always been “creativity-oriented.” I put this in the context of my inability to acquire the toys I wanted then, as we had a simple family lifestyle. What I could not buy, I borrowed or created. I read a lot, drew the toys I wished I could have, and had a lavish fantasy world that overcame the limitations I had then.
It was in my early years that personal computing technology became accessible to well-off people. Although I didn’t have my own computer at that time, I was able to use one through some neighbourhood friends. It dawned on me then that this technology would be the very epitome for raw expression of human creativity. I was hooked with all the possibilities that the combination of hardware and software would let me create, and with what everyone else on the planet can do with this technology too.
However, I was frustrated that it took years for me to get a computer of my own. It costs a lot of money, and it was a luxury at that time. Of course, I was out of touch with the real world then, and the practical reasons why my family could not afford one. But I was dead set. I knew this was the future. I knew this was my future. And I knew when I grew up that I would make money because of it, and that I would never be without a computer ever again. This idea was my driving force throughout my high school and college years.
Business was also always ingrained in me as a child. Since money was just enough, I discovered early on that if I do some work, like bringing empty soda bottles back to the store, or washing my Lola’s car, I could earn extra money in return. It also helped that my mom had a sari sari-store, and dabbled in the fads of the time, like selling plastic, food container products and certain, catalog branded, ladies wear.
Sometime during my university days, the idea clicked for me. I’ve been fascinated by computers; I wanted to create things to help other people and I wanted to have my own company doing it.
At one time, there was a speaker invited to our university, and he asked us students to choose between “JOB”, or “YOB”. JOB meant, “Join Other Business” and make other people rich, and YOB meant “Your Own Business” and make yourself rich. Even though I didn’t join the speaker’s MLM company, it did encourage me to eventually set up my own business.
So I learned as much as I could on my own. Got to work for the first distributor of Apple Computers in the country to learn the business, job-hopped in a couple more related companies, and set up my own business. Now I get to work with something I am passionate about, and get to create something that is useful for other people. Little did I know then, that the future for me was having multiple tiny computers everywhere, and I’m still stoked on what we can create next.
How did I know it clicked? Three things come into mind: focus, fulfilment, and fun. For most people, me included, focusing is something that’s hard to do within the day, let alone a long period of time (think weeks and months). But when doing something you love, you can’t help but concentrate on it, and it just happens naturally.
My work involves developing solutions to address business problems, and every new client, every new project is a challenge. As it turns out, aside from solving problems, the process of developing solutions involving technology has technical hurdles as well, such as bugs and compatibility issues. Once you overcome all of these and your solution works as intended, aside from the big relief that you have completed the project, there is the great satisfaction and fulfilment in knowing that a lot of people can depend on your creation to get their work done.
And finally, being passionate about something involves having fun along the way. While I may look serious on the outside, many people who know me well will beg to differ. I don’t think that I would have lasted this long in my career without having fun in what I’m doing.
So how has it turned out for me? I would say, after 20 years of being in the business, “not bad.” That doesn’t mean it’s been easy; there have been challenges ever since the beginning and the challenges will never end. But I’m comforted in the though that I’m not as stupid as I was the day before. I’m able to feed my family, live comfortably, and engage in a hobby or two. I know that if ever I have to start things all over again, I would go through it the same way, but with me being a wee bit wiser.
Butch has been involved in creating solutions to help businesses streamline their operations to better serve their customers. Aside from his passion for work, he is also passionate about his hobbies, which include photography and learning about how the human mind works. He has recently developed a passion for fitness and has been trying out new ways to stay fit and eat healthy. He is also a writer (and this article is an example) and one day he hopes to find more time to invest in this hobby.