Goodbye Microsoft, Hello Starbucks

I have a ton of interests and not enough time to give them all enough attention to be an expert at anything. All of my interests have one thing in common - they all take lots of time and energy to perfect. Want to make a perfect espresso drink? Want to take the perfect photo? Want to compose a great song? Want to build robust software? Everything takes so much time, which I’m finding I have less and less of. There are so many variables with all of my interests. There is literally endless amounts of tweaking to be done. There’s a lot of intrigue in knowing that the smallest tweak can dramatically change the outcome and when you find that perfect mix…it’s an incredible high.

With espresso, the beans have to be fresh, the dose has to be exactly right, the grind has to be not too fine and not too coarse, the tamp has to be around 25lbs of pressure, you have to time the shot perfectly so you don’t get too much blonde espresso and don’t get me started about latte art. With photography, everything from the body, lens, shutter speed, aperture, ISO, framing, post-production, soft-proofing, color profiles, color balance, printer. With music…oh man…the variables are endless.

My problem is that I obsess about whatever I’m doing and that ends up consuming my entire being. Just recently I drank 8 shots of espresso within a 20 minute period while I was trying to perfect my shots. While in college I seriously hurt my arms because I was playing to much bass…up to 8 hours a day. I was in Korea a couple of years ago and I took so many photos that my neck locked up and I was unable to move for 4 days.

My struggle has always been trying to balance all my interests.

I love my job as a dev manager and I love working for Microsoft. I get to work with awesome people, awesome software and I thoroughly enjoy the work. I like taking something that is broken – software, process, people – and fixing it. I’m a cleaner – sort of speak. But, being a dev manager only satisfies a small portion of my interests. I’ve tried to beef up the coffee situation at work and I’ve brought my guitar in on occasion, but it’s not enough.

I’ve had this yearning to explore other options for my career and I’m happy to say I have found the perfect thing for me in this season of my life. When I setout to find that perfect thing I wanted it to involve as many of my interests as possible. I’ve been doing software for 15 years, so I could give or take that aspect of my interests. What I really love about in software is the people. I love being a manager. I also wanted to find something that involves espresso, music and photography. It has been tremendously difficult finding something that let me mix them all together. But, I did.

I was at a party over the holiday break and a friend of a friend that works at Starbucks was there and we chatted it up for a bit. It turns out we have all the same interests. He was telling me that as a barista manager at Starbucks he’s able to help people grow from entry-level baristas to barista leaders and a lot of his job is mentoring, encouraging and directing the store. Management? Check. Espresso. Check. Then he started tell me about their Friday night live music sessions and that he often sits in with the band. They mostly play the classics, but with a neo-jazz take. Music? Check. He also mentioned that he takes photos of the bands that play and of course takes photos of all the great latte art as they hit the counter. Photography? Check. Howard Schultz is now taking great coffee seriously and needs a team of people on the ground that believe in the same mission.

I know it’s not perfect and I know I will miss software, but at this season in my life I’m convinced that being a Starbucks Barista Manager provides the best of all the worlds of my interest. So as of today, April 1st. I will hang up my IDE and put on my green apron as very proud and determined-to-succeed Starbucks Barista Manager!!!

I’m sure many other developers out there want to know how I came to this conclusion. But, I just decided to follow what my gut was telling me and take a chance on my dreams. Let me know if you want to chat more about how you to can build up the courage to follow your dreams.

Here goes nothing!