When I was 21, I dropped out of college and went to work at a start-up called Creative Internet Solutions. I had played with web development as a hobby since late 1995 but now I got to do it full time without those pesky classes occupying my time. And having money was nice. I was young and hungry with plenty of time, so I poured myself into my work. Many of my co-workers were at a similar point in their lives, so we lived and breathed our work.

After the owner sold the company to Control Data — yes, they were still around — things changed, people left, and we all eventually moved on. The ideas, innovation, and energy from that job are something I’ve never seen since. We didn’t do anything consciously, it just happened. We were lucky. Which is probably why it all fell apart so fast.

Now I work for a large research University. I must confess that part of the draw was that I hoped that I would find some of this energy.  Nope, not here. The focus here, as is in many IT shops, is on compliance, standardization, and process. Because that’s the way a “business” operates. Some businesses, however, pride themselves by cultivating innovation and can then capitalize on these ideas. Marissa Mayer, at Google, discusses their culture in this old Fast Company piece.


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