After I left Appcelerator, I did what we all do in between jobs. No, I don’t mean binge-watching – although I did subscribe to HBO and enjoyed some great movies since. I’m talking about updating tons of social profiles and of course LinkedIn.

The easy part

Replacing the profile photos where I was wearing an Appcelerator shirt was easy. A lot harder was thinking of a short (160 characters for Twitter) but meaningful bio and of course the even shorter LinkedIn professional headline and slightly longer (400 characters) summary.

A great exercise

But actually this turned out to be a really good exercise. Without a job title (Appcelerator Developer Advocate) or summary of what that role involves to hide behind… what am I really about? Without narrowing down the options too much… what do I look for in my next job? What is the common thread in what I’ve been doing so far and my future ambitions?

My ideal job

I came to the conclusion that my ideal job is not only about what I would do, but also with who as well as its context and impact.

  1. International Context
  2. Positive Impact
  3. Challenging Role(s)
  4. Strong Team

And no, apparently money doesn’t play much of a role here. In a team I can trust, I expect that what I get paid reflects the value I add.

International Context

At Athletes in Action I was able to see a lot of the world and even at the office we always looked beyond our North Sea horizon. I really missed this when I later worked for a company that had a strong local focus. The ability to travel and work in an international team was one of the best perks to become an evangelist/advocate for Appcelerator, which itself is based in San Jose, CA.

It seems that the more you see of the world, the smaller your home country feels. Fortunately, nowadays you can be part of an international team from the comfort of your home. And did you know that since 2013 the Dutch are a minority in their very own capital?

And maybe I will again become part of an all-Dutch team for a local market. As a freelance app developer pretty much all of my clients were local too. But in every job there are others doing similar work all over the world. Meeting and learning from them at conferences, as well as helping each other out online has always been very rewarding for me.

Positive Impact

Unless you stick to the beaten track, travelling also allows you to look the evening news straight in the face. I often imagine what the world would look like if we could all travel more.

Would we still look away from poverty after shaking hands with the poor? Would we still build fences to keep refuges out of the EU after spending some days with a family behind the walls on the West Bank?

There are many ways to have a positive impact on the world and work doesn’t necessarily need to be one of them. Raising funds for Compassion and visiting their projects in Rwanda was a great way, but if we’re talking about an ideal job, I would love for it to have a more direct, positive impact on the world.

Challenging Role(s)

So far nothing on what I’d actually be doing in this job.

Over the last years I have been using variations on the following tagline on my website:

“I love to learn by doing, share from my experience and smoothen the road for those who follow.”

So, I need to be constantly challenged to master a product, service or process and a have role in which I can make it less challenging for others. The question I’ve been asking myself is: does it actually matter what I’d be challenged to?

My LinkedIn profile can be quite confusing, but many spot IT as a common theme in the different roles I’ve had. I guess it is, but as I was looking for a new professional headline for LinkedIn I ended up with the following:

User-Centered Product Development & Marketing

In everything I’ve done, from Office Management, Communication and Fundraising to Project Management, App Development and Developer Advocacy… I always strived to put the user front and center. I strongly believe this means a lot more than doing some usability tests or addressing customers by their first name. For a company to be successful – in particular in the long term – the user must be king.

Add real value, solve actual problems, keep it simple and it will pay out.

Get me hooked on your purpose (impact) and means (product, service or process) and I will not stop to make it more effective and efficient. And yes, often that involves IT.

Strong Team

Last but not least I need a team I can trust, have fun and change the world with. A small team probably, or at least an organisation that thinks in dynamic roles rather than static positions. I have this tendency to get involved you know.

If it’s all up to me I easily lose myself in details and get frustrated because execution slows down my thinking. I have an understanding of and opinion on everything from design to code, but I’m on my best when I’m surrounded by true experts to rely on.

Only in the context of a great team I can fully identify with:

“Jack of all trades, master of none,
though oftentimes better than master of one.”