looking forward - new beginnings - kate matsudaira

I have some news:

As of last week, I am officially an entrepreneur!

I had planned to leave Decide this year, even before I had interviewed I planned to start my company in 2013 (and for those who with concerns, don’t worry, I told everyone involved up front about my plans).  And while I had not planned on setting off on my own this early in 2013 (and this story deserves a whole other blog post in itself at some point), but fate has a funny way of dealing cards and so I need to buck up and take my advice to follow my dreams.

What am I going to do?

I can’t tell you how excited I am about what is next.  A bit scared too, but a little dose of fear can keep you on your toes.

My plan is to build a product that I have always wanted as a lead and manager.  Something that makes status mails and performance reviews painless, and helps me prepare for 1:1 meetings (since I always felt so distracted with my tactical work when someone walked into my office – yet I know that those meetings were some of my most important).  Since my last day I have thought of nothing else; working on wireframes and writing code (more on that in a minute).  I can’t even tell you how much fun I am having already.  It is so liberating and thrilling.

I have also been working on this recruiting handbook for years – it is the guide I had wished existed 6 years ago when I first became a CTO and needed to hire and build my team.  Even though I had done 300+ interviews then and felt like I could calibrate people pretty well, there was so much to learn about sourcing, and streamlining the process to be efficient and still make great hires.  I bought the domain RecruitingHacks.com so I will likely put something up there soon, although building the product mentioned first is my main area of focus at the moment.

I am still planning things as they go, but despite these huge sweeping changes, there have been two really big personal revelations I wanted to share with all of you.

#1 Getting back to basics

Do you remember how you picked your major in college? (if you went, if you didn’t go, then perhaps how you chose your profession?)

For me, I studied computer science because it was the most fun.  I loved chemistry and physics – I loved taking the hardest classes I could (heh, I guess I have always had something to prove), but even though computer science wasn’t the hardest, I took almost every elective I could because it was so much fun.

When I would choose classes  I preferred ones where I felt like the effort expended would translate into a good grade.  Subjects like English always frustrated me because it felt so subjective; I never understood the difference between an A and an A- .  As a result I always preferred classes where my results could be objectively measured. Math, science, and engineering tended to always have predictable outcomes and desired results.  And computer science was particularly special; I loved that with programming there was always a “right” answer but it was your own art on how you arrived there.  Every programmer you meet has their own unique way of solving a given problem, and in that way we are artists.

Over the years, my art hasn’t been programming though – it was products, teams, and people.  And I love so many things about touching the lives of others, and the huge accomplishments that can come from a highly functioning organization.   However, I missed writing code full-time.  I wake up in the morning and the work I am doing excites me.  Everyday I feel a joy that I used to feel when I finished a homework assignment in school, or checked in a major feature at work.  It is such a great reminder of why I chose this as my profession, and I feel so lucky that I get paid (well not at the moment, but soon!) to solve interesting problems.  I am having so much fun and only wish I had done this sooner.

Here are a couple of suggestions I wish someone had given me earlier:

  • Try  complete the following sentence (in at least 20 different ways): “I used to love _______________ because _________________”  Come up with as many of the activities or things you used to do as a child, or in college.  Dive deep into what you chose to do when you had the time.
  • Set aside 20 minutes and focus on your passions. Use a blank sheet of paper and write down as many as you can.  If you need help here are some questions to get you started: What gets your really excited?  What could you talk about for hours?  If you could do anything you wanted and money was no object, how would you spend your times? What do you enjoy doing for other people?


#2 Life is nothing without others to share it withlife is nothing without great people to share it with

The last year or so has been a bit rocky in my personal life.  After being married 5 years our marriage hit a bit of turbulence and there were a lot of emotional moments where I wasn’t sure that we would resolve our differences.  However, with therapy and a lot of effort on both sides I would say that our marriage is in a better place.  All that being said though, I can’t even begin to express how incredibly lucky I feel to have Garrett as my husband.

When everything happened at work and I chose to leave Decide earlier, even though we weren’t ready, Garrett encouraged me and supported me to pursue my dreams.  There were several nights when I couldn’t sleep I was so stressed out, and then would be exhausted and listless all day.  Garrett would come home from a hard day at work and find me in my pajamas on the couch in the same place I was when he left.  I know this would infuriate me, but instead of being frustrated at my lack of productivity, he would make dinner for me and give me the reassurance I needed to hear.  He has been my rock, and he believes in me even when I don’t have the courage to believe in myself.

And this support may seem small in the big scheme of things, but having someone in your corner, who will always be in your corner, is an amazing gift I often forget about.

When things are going well it is easy to take people for granted; there are other things to worry about.  My revelation and message  is that you should spend a few minutes and pull your person/partner/friend/pet close and let them know how much they mean to you.   Ideally, express this in the way they like to hear it (for me that is with words, but for Garrett it is with actions).  Then just try to forgive and forget a little faster, and love a little longer 🙂



I am off to get some coding done, I have a lot of product to build.  For those who want to stay up to date, I am working on compiling a pre-launch email list to keep people in the loop. If interested, you can enter your email using the form below.  If you have any issues subscribing, you can also send me a note at my first name at this domain 🙂

Have a great week everyone!

Related Posts: