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View Full Version : Article: Choosing whether or not to climb the corporate ladder.



WilliamVaughan
09-26-2016, 06:19 AM
So what is the right path to take? Should you climb the corporate ladder or avoid it at all costs? Find a middle rung and hold tight?

Read some thoughts here:
http://www.pixelfondue.com/blog/2016/9/23/the-rungs-of-opportunity

kopperdrake
09-26-2016, 07:35 AM
Good article - thanks for sharing William.

I went through that process about nine years ago, when an agency client invited a group of his outsource artists for a meal. Chat turned to our individual futures, and when he asked me where I saw myself in five years time (I had set up my current setup only three years earlier), I plainly said "where I am today". To clarify, I had seen both sides of the work coin - employed and self-employed, and for some like myself, the choice is obvious. I am, and always will be, unemployable. It's a joke I often make, but there is an awful lot of truth in it. Having spent only three years of my working life employed by someone, I find it very hard to place my trust in people higher up the rungs, when I see awful decisions being made through ineptitude, ignorance or just plain arrogance. When those same people assume you will stay for the money, then that really gets my hackles up.

When I started this gig, I knew I wanted to be no larger than a handful of people. I found, through an earlier partnership, that the larger it gets, the less fun work you do, unless you like meetings. That was one of the reasons for leaving that company behind me. I also learned, through experience, that sitting at a desk all day and every day is not good for you, your friends and your family. You're here once, and once only - better make it count.

In summary, climb your own ladder :)

erikals
09-26-2016, 08:04 AM
i think the most important thing is to be your own leader,
choose your own path, not someone else's, while still trying to be humble in life.

WilliamVaughan
09-26-2016, 08:25 AM
Great feedback guys. Let's keep the conversation going... I think if more people discussed this kind of stuff they would be better equipped to make career decisions... Decisions that most don't think thru as much as they wish they did.

pnelson
09-26-2016, 09:13 AM
It's crazy how many people just "go with the flow" when it comes to their careers.. GREAT article!!

MANY industries need to read this!!

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In summary, climb your own ladder :)

Amen brutha! ;)

Spinland
09-26-2016, 09:23 AM
Great stuff, William.

My first career was as hierarchical as it gets: the US Military. There it's up or out, no excuses. High Year of Tenure regulations insure that.

Nearly 24 years of that was plenty for anyone, for all it was an honor and privilege to have been through the experience. My first post-uniform foray was with a small 3D modeling and animation start-up that lasted a scant two years; the founder turning out to be something of a scoundrel didn't help.

I licked my wounds from that experience during eight more years in corporate America where all of that ladder and ambition stuff was back in spades. I did work my way up a good ways, but all the time my eye was on a different prize. I was making six figures but pumping all of my extra income into building and stocking my Studio and amassing a war chest to get me through lean start-up years. I wanted that freedom again, but this time with me at the helm.

Six years after I pulled the plug and took my current journey I'm still not making nearly as much as I did in a suit but I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and I have no intention of ever changing that. I might grow the Studio, add a minion or two, but that'd be as large as I ever want to grow. The ad hoc gig economy is where it's at now and I'm positioned right where I should be to take advantage of it.

WilliamVaughan
09-26-2016, 09:29 AM
Great stuff, William.

My first career was as hierarchical as it gets: the US Military. There it's up or out, no excuses. High Year of Tenure regulations insure that.

Nearly 24 years of that was plenty for anyone, for all it was an honor and privilege to have been through the experience. My first post-uniform foray was with a small 3D modeling and animation start-up that lasted a scant two years; the founder turning out to be something of a scoundrel didn't help.

I licked my wounds from that experience during eight more years in corporate America where all of that ladder and ambition stuff was back in spades. I did work my way up a good ways, but all the time my eye was on a different prize. I was making six figures but pumping all of my extra income into building and stocking my Studio and amassing a war chest to get me through lean start-up years. I wanted that freedom again, but this time with me at the helm.

Six years after I pulled the plug and took my current journey I'm still not making nearly as much as I did in a suit but I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and I have no intention of ever changing that. I might grow the Studio, add a minion or two, but that'd be as large as I ever want to grow. The ad hoc gig economy is where it's at now and I'm positioned right where I should be to take advantage of it.

Lots to learn from your story.... Appreciate the share.

Looking forward to hearing others experience as well.

Reco
09-26-2016, 10:10 AM
My career has taken different turns throughout the years, but I have always followed my heart. I’ve been employed, Self-employed and co-owner of a small company, but never accepted higher positions than a supervisor/project manager. Maybe not the smartest thing to do if you look at it from an economic perspective, but I couldn’t care less.

It’s not that I am afraid of responsibility. Had a lot of it. I just want to work with stuff that I find interesting and motivating. I’m not saying I’m only doing the fun stuff, leaving the boring stuff to someone else. It has been equally shared.

It’s like if you are a pilot and love to fly, you most likely don’t want to be promoted to a ground position.


Reco

CaptainMarlowe
09-26-2016, 11:47 AM
Great stuff, William.

My first career was as hierarchical as it gets: the US Military. There it's up or out, no excuses. High Year of Tenure regulations insure that.

Nearly 24 years of that was plenty for anyone, for all it was an honor and privilege to have been through the experience. My first post-uniform foray was with a small 3D modeling and animation start-up that lasted a scant two years; the founder turning out to be something of a scoundrel didn't help.

I licked my wounds from that experience during eight more years in corporate America where all of that ladder and ambition stuff was back in spades. I did work my way up a good ways, but all the time my eye was on a different prize. I was making six figures but pumping all of my extra income into building and stocking my Studio and amassing a war chest to get me through lean start-up years. I wanted that freedom again, but this time with me at the helm.

Six years after I pulled the plug and took my current journey I'm still not making nearly as much as I did in a suit but I am the happiest I have ever been in my life and I have no intention of ever changing that. I might grow the Studio, add a minion or two, but that'd be as large as I ever want to grow. The ad hoc gig economy is where it's at now and I'm positioned right where I should be to take advantage of it.

Been there, done that. Oh wait, not quite. Still under the uniform and counting... :) CG is only a hobby for me, and I have reached a quite high position in my career. But when I retire, since I will have a fair pension and my house completely paid, I'll definitely go the freelancer route, IOT stay on my own. Hierarchy will then be more than enough for me ! ;)

Edit : great article, William, thanks for sharing. I miss the good ol' HDRI3D times, your articles were a real pleasure, wether they spoke about Lightwave or were more general.

Spinland
09-26-2016, 11:54 AM
...when I retire, since I will have a fair pension and my house completely paid, I'll definitely go the freelancer route, IOT stay on my own.

That is a huge piece of the puzzle in my current situation. As a retired officer my pension more than covers my mortgage, my health care (alas it's no longer free these days, retired or no), and the bulk of my utilities (after my solar array handles the bulk of my power needs). If not for that secure income stream I expect I would still be working for Da Man in a soul-sucking corporate cubicle making interactive 3D data displays instead of art. ;D

jasonwestmas
09-26-2016, 03:07 PM
Climb the ladder, invest your money so you can afford to quit; quit and then invest more money in your own interests seems to be the smartest trend.

samurai_x
09-26-2016, 10:37 PM
Climb the ladder, invest your money so you can afford to quit; quit and then invest more money in your own interests seems to be the smartest trend.

Definitely. Planning on my second airbnb unit soon. And doing more work that will generate passive income. In the future I don't plan on doing 3d work any more and just do it for hobby.

WilliamVaughan
09-27-2016, 02:48 PM
Climb the ladder, invest your money so you can afford to quit; quit and then invest more money in your own interests seems to be the smartest trend.

I like the way you think :)

MichaelT
09-27-2016, 03:24 PM
I was guilty as many others when it comes to 'go with the flow'. I moved to another city, and just stopped fighting. An incredibly damaging move. As while I could do my job well, it came at the cost of loosing so many more valuable pieces of knowledge. Pieces I now had to pick up, and much like life in general. It have a way to slap you in the face when you think you're safe :) And it sure did.. repeatedly. And I woke up eventually. So I promised myself to never walk the silent path of death to oblivion again. I fear the last day, regretting the paths I didn't take too much.

JamesCurtis
09-27-2016, 10:47 PM
Due to medical reasons I have been self-employed for the last 35 years. My illness [a colostomy and reworked 4 times now into an illeostomy] kept getting in the way of holding any sort of regular job, so I did 3D graphics and animation for industrial companies through a small video business and now a marketing agency through the years. I'm 61 years old right now and will probably have to take an early retirement or go on disability in January next year. I don't think I can go another 5-6 years to do a proper retirement and get full benefits.

I've recently had operations which, unfortunately, have left me with a horrible neuropathy and possibly carpel tunnel as well in both of my hands too, which has caused me to need to use some nerve numbing medication to keep the pain down. It leaves me a bit on the tired and dizzy side quite often. I'm hoping to find an alternative med or see if I might be able to take a lower dosage to feel a bit more normal.

It's been tough for me for many years, and I never made more than $26,000 in any single year - usually a good bit less quite often! Unfortunately, this year has been the worst in the last 20, as I've barely made $6,000 so far. I might make $10,000 this year if I'm lucky. I do have a few projects to do for my main client, but it will have to be as my health permits. I have a friend [a former business partner] that picks up the slack when needed, and I make money through him as a sub contract.

Anyhow, I did what I love to do because I had no other real choice. Sometimes you just have to do what you can, when you can.

Cheers!

prometheus
09-28-2016, 09:06 AM
Due to medical reasons I have been self-employed for the last 35 years. My illness [a colostomy and reworked 4 times now into an illeostomy] kept getting in the way of holding any sort of regular job, so I did 3D graphics and animation for industrial companies through a small video business and now a marketing agency through the years. I'm 61 years old right now and will probably have to take an early retirement or go on disability in January next year. I don't think I can go another 5-6 years to do a proper retirement and get full benefits.

I've recently had operations which, unfortunately, have left me with a horrible neuropathy and possibly carpel tunnel as well in both of my hands too, which has caused me to need to use some nerve numbing medication to keep the pain down. It leaves me a bit on the tired and dizzy side quite often. I'm hoping to find an alternative med or see if I might be able to take a lower dosage to feel a bit more normal.

It's been tough for me for many years, and I never made more than $26,000 in any single year - usually a good bit less quite often! Unfortunately, this year has been the worst in the last 20, as I've barely made $6,000 so far. I might make $10,000 this year if I'm lucky. I do have a few projects to do for my main client, but it will have to be as my health permits. I have a friend [a former business partner] that picks up the slack when needed, and I make money through him as a sub contract.

Anyhow, I did what I love to do because I had no other real choice. Sometimes you just have to do what you can, when you can.

Cheers!

Good health and luck to you, and I hope you as an old timer and retired may have a chance to still to creative works for your enjoyment only..as much as possible with your conditions that is, and that you do not have to worry about the income.

Itīs foremost always a matter of getting an income to survive with, and after that the questions rise..should you change job, keep it..move on forward or not, or just follow what you feel good about, it may not be that easy to choose..you never know what the future may bring to you ..even if you think you are satisfied and do not need to climb higher, or change job..it could mean that the current position you like and want to hang on to..may not be the best because the position may change and not become available too.
So ..while it may sound nice to go with the gut, it isnīt a 100% secure way of doing the right thing...but perhaps it has the best value, and if not working out..you at least have enjoyed working with what you wanted to do.

Michael

WilliamVaughan
09-28-2016, 10:53 AM
I wanted to share what my friend Richard Lico posted on LinkedIn in regards to the article... I worked with him in teh game industry years ago... amazingly talented guy!


I found this one very interesting because it speaks to a core debate I had at Bungie. Being reviewed well as animation lead meant they wanted to give me more management responsibilities, and move me up the ladder. But I knew that meant less time animating. Both Bungie and I struggled with this, so they created the "principal" role for me. It allowed them to increase my compensation to remain competitive with other studios prepared to tempt core talent away. And it provided me with an opportunity to use my years of knowledge to mentor the team without management of others, while still animating as my primary responsibility

MichaelT
09-28-2016, 07:03 PM
I wanted to share what my friend Richard Lico posted on LinkedIn in regards to the article... I worked with him in teh game industry years ago... amazingly talented guy!

That is a problem I am very recently acquainted with :) The very reason I am doing what I am now.
Good on him :) Not all companies are that willing to work something out that works best for all parties.
I have a friend working higher up at Bungie as well, and he is happy there last I talked to him.