Wednesday, May 26, 2010

A Good Week

It's been a good week so far. I'm beginning to settle into things a bit more. It's still a surprise to me to head into the office, and know that I'm the boss, that I'm responsible not only for my ideas, and my work. I'm responsible for a staff, and I'm responsible to my clients to deliver.

Today I submitted the third monthly report on my newer project. (The report due dates are staggered a couple weeks, so I flip flop between the two efforts). We're half way through the first stage contract on the second project. That's all that's guaranteed on this one.

At the end of six months, they get to decide if they want to fund us for another couple years. I think we've better than a 50/50 chance to get the two-year extension, but there's a lot riding on what we deliver over the next few months. Can we convince them that we're really onto something, something untried, but potentially transformative?

It's a new area for us as well. There's certainly a link to the work we've been doing, but the issues are broad and deep. Can I successfully make the case that the problems are extensive but that we've something useful to contribute to their resolution? Only time will tell.

But it's a wonderful position to be in to know that even if not, I've got signed contracts sufficient to sustain myself and my staff (perhaps even another new hire or two) for a couple years.

Yes, I've come to realize that there must be a plan beyond that. I need to see this company to long term viability. At the moment, there really isn't another option (shy of shepherding in New Zealand).

So, I look ahead, and keep on keeping on. Meantime, I'll enjoy my Monday off, and I look forward to a few days or a week at the Lake House in July. All in all, life is pretty good.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Easy Syndrome

Throughout my life, I have often discounted whatever came easy to me, as unworthy or value-less. These days my mind begins to wander. I fantasize about herding sheep in New Zealand. It's not that the technology itself is easy, nor that I've solved the bulk of the difficult parts. Not even close. There's work there to be done for decades.

But I feel a bit like my gradeschool self wondering why the teacher wants us to endlessly repeat the tasks we've already mastered. Yes, I know how to multiply 4x3... and 3x4, and 12x8, and 6X9, and 33X627... and. What more will I learn by doing it again, with ceaseless variations?

I realize to keep going in my business, I'll need to prepare and submit more grant and contract proposals, and negotiate collaborations and sales in the commercial arena, and I'll need to hire more staff. It's all still very early stage. Part of me still resents the summary dismissal I received from the Academy, because fundamental research is exceedingly difficult to conduct on a for-profit basis.

My problem is Easy Syndrome is part striving for novelty and challenge, part laziness. It's work to prepare proposals, and keep justifying the worthiness of our efforts, preparing demonstrations that give enough of a taste of the potential of the work to keep others interested.

It's a lot like auditions. No matter how well you performed in your last show, you're starting over, once it's done. Haven't I proven myself already? Do I have to do it again?

Truth is, yes... I do. And so... the green hills of New Zealand seem oh so appealing.