#TechTuesday: Why I Left a Big Tech Company for a Small Startup

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Leaving the safety of a well-paid tech role for the uncertainty of a startup can seem scary. So how do you know that it's right?

By Adrienne Weissman (Chief Marketing Officer, G2 Crowd)

I have had some really awesome experiences by working at arguably some of the best technology companies in the world: LinkedIn, Google, AOL. I loved working for these companies and worked incredibly hard. In return, they gave me excellent opportunities, compensation and professional growth.

So why would I leave a comfortable, promising corporate spot at my last employer, LinkedIn, for a position with a small startup?

I chose to bet on myself, and won.

Here’s how the story unfolds: I had been at LinkedIn for several years, and was thinking about my “next play,” or role, as the organizational culture encourages. Working at LinkedIn rocked. I imagined I would continue to work there for many years on emerging businesses within the company.

Out of the blue, a trusted friend asked me, “Have you ever thought about leaving LinkedIn?” I laughed because I was truly surprised by the question and mostly because I hadn’t considered leaving. One of the opportunities we discussed was with G2 Crowd, a software review platform that provides feedback and advice from people who have purchased, implemented and used business software and related services.

I figured (at the very least) it was worth considering a few of the options. After countless conversations with friends and mentors, I realized I was being given the opportunity to place a bet — a very big one.

The bet: I could stay at LinkedIn, a great place to work. This was the safe and easy bet. Or, I could go “all in” and take an intelligent risk on an opportunity for new personal and professional growth unlike any I’d experienced so far.

You have most likely been faced with similar terrifying and exciting conundrums. How did I decide? How can you make big decisions in your personal and professional life? Looking back, it was helpful to do some soul-searching in the form of three questions:

Who Am I?

Ask yourself who you really are. Over the last 15 years, I discovered I’m a disruptor; I thrive on switching up the status quo. I’m attracted to opportunities that are disruptive in nature or are new, emerging and unproven.

You will certainly define yourself uniquely. The point is to do honest examination of where you are and where you want to go. Being comfortable and knowledgeable about what makes you tick will help you move forward when faced with your next step.

How Did I Get Here?

Once you discover who you are, it’s helpful to uncover how you got there. I’m blessed to have an incredibly supportive husband, a wonderful family, and the best of friends and colleagues. They help me get out of my comfort zone and to push myself.

Whatever your path, it’s helpful to think about the influences and experiences that made you what you are today. Then keep what works for you, lose what doesn’t, and set yourself up for success.

Am I Ready to Bet Bigger on Myself?

Once you’ve been honest with yourself about who you are and how you got there, you can decide if you are really ready – and are in a position – to take an intelligent risk.

Are you adequately set up with the proper framework to support taking a big bet on yourself? If not, continue to very thoughtfully work toward making that vision a reality. If so, have confidence in all you’ve worked for and deserve, and pull the trigger.

I did. I bet big on myself, made the decision to leave LinkedIn and joined G2 Crowd. I love my decision and my job. What’s more, I feel more confident than ever about my ability to handle the next big decision. I’ve hit the jackpot. You can, too.

What other questions would you advise would-be founders to ask themselves?

Photo credit: ronstik via Shutterstock.


About the guest blogger: Adrienne Weissman leads G2 Crowd’s sales and marketing efforts as its Chief Marketing Officer. Before joining G2 Crowd, she worked at LinkedIn, working with brands like Microsoft, Ford, Delta and FedEx to help them leverage LinkedIn as a content marketing and advertising platform. She has also held senior-level leadership roles in sales and marketing at Google, Digg and AOL.