When people ask me what I do for a living, I tell them that I am an engineering leader, and coach.
This is a difficult role for most engineers to embrace, but mostly for a reason that my peers do not expect.
Marketing one’s self is a difficult job for anyone, and this can be doubly true for engineers and scientists, many of whom would prefer hours in the lab or plant rather than schmoozing at restaurants and conventions.
Certainly, this is a part of the story, but not the biggest part. We engineers are trained to find certainty. We use solid data to make amorphous problems concrete. When you work for yourself though, you need to elevate opportunity, in all its messy and unpredictable sloppiness, to the forefront of your business. When you are president AND chief engineer, you need to spend huge amounts of time in realizing, cultivating, and harvesting opportunities. As the president, you are responsible for generating a steady stream of order-of-magnitude scale growth. As the chief engineer, you need to deliver on that stream of opportunity.
Navigating this sea of opportunity can be one of the trickiest, and most enlightening aspects of running your own business.