Motivation to Rock the Boat

March 2, 2011

Have you seen The Social Network? I don't know about you, but it's hard for me to see a movie before it comes out on iTunes or pay-per–view these days, so I'm a little late to the game on this one. I watched most of it on my flight back from Parallels Summit in Orlando ... And I say "most of it" because I started it up right when they said it was legal to turn on my device, and I had to stop watching it when iTunes decided I didn't need to see the last twenty minutes.

One minute, I was enjoying Justin Timberlake as Sean Parker (of Napster fame) yelling, "Let's get some Sho..." and the next minute, I'm smacking my iPad to figure out what happens next. Since they were at a club, I assume he was saying "shots," but I may or may not have had shots at the SoftLayer Happy Hour, so I might have been projecting.

Needless to say, I was mentally writing a sternly worded email to the higher-ups at Apple as I smacked my iPad like a early 80's televesion set to get the movie to start again. The story was interesting, and I couldn't help but think about its motivational slant.

Sometimes when you do the same job for a few years, you lose focus of where you've been and where you're headed ... both on a personal level and on a company level. I've had the opportunity to see SoftLayer grow from "start-up mode" to where we are today, and in the course of that growth, I filled seven or eight different positions throughout the organization. From the frontlines of support to the back office of marketing to large scale projects that work strategically on the company as a whole, I've seen our success from every angle. And The Social Network reinvigorated me with a fresh wave of SoftLayer-focused motivation.

What I'm trying to figure out now is which perspective in the story I was most motivated by. Is it okay to be inspired by the way Zuckerburg executed on the idea of "thefacebook," or does the moral compass require me to root for the Harvard Connect gang? Does Sean Parker's vision for Facebook and influence on its growth lose steam if it's framed by how it affected Eduardo Saverin?

Regardless of which sides are the "right" ones to take, each involves a dramatic departure from the status quo. I'm not encouraging you to go start a legal war or model your business after Facebook's quasi-factual history, but don't be afraid to rock the boat a little if it needs to be rocked.

Jean-Paul Sartre once said, "Only the guy who isn't rowing has time to rock the boat." If that quote were to pick a side in the movie, it would be on the now-defunct Harvard Connect side ... With a few billion dollars less than the alternative.

-Skinman