I change jobs every 3 months

As soon as I took on the job of CEO for the world’s weirdest cat site in 2007, the focus hasn’t been about growth — in fact, I’d go as far as saying focusing on growth can have the opposite effect of what’s desired. The focus of my job has been on reinvention.

Let’s take a look at my “career” at the Cheezburger Network:

  1. Sep. 2007: That idiot who quit his job to run a cat picture site. (Staff count: Approx. 1)
  2. Jan. 2008: That idiot who quit his job to run some photo sites. (Staff count: Approx. 3)
  3. Jan. 2009: That idiot who quit his job to run a time-waster network. (Staff count: Approx. 15)
  4. Jan. 2010: That idiot who quit his job to run a… what the hell are they trying to do over there? (Staff count: Approx. 35)

Every quarter, we embark on a project or come across an opportunity that would fundamentally alter who we are. If you would have told me in 2008 that we’d be running 40+ sites and be one of the largest networks on the Web, I would have not believed you. In fact, I am on the record saying that we could never really see ourselves beyond the 25-sites mark at Gnomedex 2008.

Yet, here we are. WTF?

I believe our ability to grow has to do with two things:
1) Having no false expectations about who we are (we’re here to make you happy for a few minutes, nothing more) and,
2) Having no holy 3-year plan. (Few thought we’d be anything, so it was easy to be something).

That meant we could relentlessly chase what our users wanted each and every month — our own visions be damned. Every year, we look back on the last, and we’ve reinvented ourselves as a different company. Perhaps to the outside world, we haven’t changed much (which I see as a huge positive), after all, we still post the same number of lolcats to I Can Has Cheezburger? each day, but the dramatic internal change is easy to recognize in the office.

That constant drive to reinvent means it starts with me. Every quarter, I look back at the last and my “job” has totally changed. Last quarter, I was hell-bent on finding the Cheezburger way to do recruiting and hiring. This quarter, I want to create a lasting Cheezburger culture within the company. The only thing that’s common from quarter to quarter, from “job” to “job” is that I’ve never done it before. It’s scary as hell. But I really don’t have anything to lose. I can always get a new job.

Posted on March 2, 2010, in Business, ICHC, Personal. Bookmark the permalink. 4 Comments.

  1. I really like this post and completely agree. We always change roles, either officially or unofficially – that’s part of the ecosystem of life and of being an entrepreneur.

  2. Great post Ben! Even though I have a somewhat structured 8-5 job, my role here is always changing. I think as people we are drawn to the new things that excite us and keep us happy. I love that you became “That idiot who quit his job to run a… what the hell are they trying to do over there?” because you are accomplishing your one true goal every day. How many of us can truly say that?

    Keep up the good work!

  3. (first of all, please forgive the link resurrection)

    I interviewed with your company sometime between 2 months ago and 2 months from now (really! I can travel through time!). I’ve been thinking about this post both before and after.

    You’ve grown so quickly — it must be bewildering for you, and for the rest of your team. The way I see it, you have an amazing company culture (hence my application). How do you plan to preserve the culture as you grow and absorb all of the internet?

  4. I was so glad to read your post. I’ve had this need to ‘reinvent’ myself and my position every 6 months for my whole life. It’s difficult to fit into the ‘norm’, but I find creating and managing new projects and people very easy and fulfilling. I especially like learning and trying new things; discovering what’s out there and what I’m capable of.

    I stumbled upon your blog as I was feeling awful for wanting to leave a family business. I just came to the realization that it’s just because I’ve hit my ’6 month itch’, as I call it (It seems to be the longest I can stay at a job before I go nuts). I prefer working for myself and having the flexibility to move around.

    Just want to say ‘Thanks again’. I never attached the term ‘reinventing’ to this before, but that’s exactly what it is. And I’m happy you’ve helped me to see it in a better light. : )

    Princess Pennywise

    PS–After reading this, I’ve now made the decision to reinvent a blog I started quite awhile ago. I have a few loose ends to tie up first, but will certainly reinvent it soon. Thanks again!!

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