Life is a marathon, not a sprint

Today is the 2012 Boston Marathon, a race with a lot of tradition, memories, intensity, heartbreak, and happiness.

And this post turned out to be long, almost like a marathon 🙂  It’s a personal post, no tech interest.  You may just want to skip it unless you’re bored… No tl;dr provided on purpose.

One of the things I always liked best about the marathon, which is not unique to Boston’s, is how the non-elite runners (like me), people who’d never win the race, can still get so much joy out of simply completing it.  Completing, not competing.

But, as with most sports and other professional activities, it’s at least as much fun for me to observe the elite runners, the ones who train their whole lives for this (and similar) races.  They are faster, stronger, more consistent, and better in many ways.  We watch and try to learn, or at least be inspired, by them.

There are many similarities (and many differences) between training for a marathon and working at a company that is trying to be world-class, like HubSpot.  Success in both areas requires dedication and intensity, but also an open mind to new training techniques, flexibility in dealing with change, and more.

I could go on and on about the similarities and differences: skill specialization, individualism vs teamwork, training approaches, burnout, the importance of coaching and advice, the impact of technology and equipment, and more.

But that’s not my main point for this post.  The main point is that life itself is a marathon, not a sprint, as well.  After nearly five years of running at sprint speed at HubSpot, we parted ways earlier this month.

HubSpot was far more than a job: it was a huge part of my life during this time, as my family and friends would gladly tell you.  I learned many, many valuable lessons from my colleagues, our customers, my teammates, and my own work, both successes and mistakes.  I hope I helped the company grow and become the juggernaut it is today.

I am very grateful to Brian and Dharmesh, HubSpot’s co-founders and my bosses, for giving me the freedom to learn, to grow, to experiment, to build, and to try and help make HubSpot the best marketing software company in the world.  Thanks, guys!

I could not be more confident in HubSpot’s future.  The company is crushing it on many levels, and it continues to get stronger, hiring amazing talent in all departments, improving the product, getting smarter, more efficient, and becoming an imposing machine in many ways.  And that’s before the new COO, JD Sherman, is really settled in: I think he will be a tremendous positive impact on the company.

If I could buy more HubSpot stock, I would.  If you have options, exercise them.  (Try to avoid the AMT…)  If I start my own company and need to raise money, hopefully these guys will invest, thereby starting a “HubSpot mafia” in the PayPal style.  We are friends in the special way that people who’ve fought in the trenches together for years can be, and I cherish my time with them.

One of the many reasons I joined HubSpot was to learn about sales and marketing from two fellow Sloanies who seemed reasonably sharp at the time: Mike Volpe and Mark Roberge.  I got more than I bargained for there, as they turned out to be world-class doers, thinkers, managers, and businessmen in their domain, all while being Good People.  We, too, are good personal friends and will remain so.  Thanks for teaching me a ton, guys, and leading by example the whole way.

Our monthly management meetings were a great source of learning.  My colleagues David Stack (our CFO), Jonah Lopin (head of services and customer success), Jim O’Neill (our CIO, but really jack-of-all-trades, problem solver, party host, and more…), Arjun Moorthy, Brad Coffey, and recently-but-awesomely, David Cancel, are an amazing group.  If you sit down in a room with them for a day, no matter what the topic might be, you will learn a ton, guaranteed.  Thanks, guys!

I obviously can’t name everyone at HubSpot, as I like and have learned from (literally) hundreds of people, and this post is already very long.  Many of them will be life-long friends, spanning jobs, industries, personal life changes, geo re-locations, and more.  You know who you are, and you know I’ll be there for you.

To the awesome engineering crew, thanks for all your work building towards a great product.  I hope not too many of my bugs remain in the code base 🙂 As I’ve told a number of folks, I am always available to help.  Just reach out to me 24/7, and I’ll gladly help.  I’ve learned just as much from you as anyone else, and I’m grateful for that.

During my last year at HubSpot, I worked mostly on our platform and marketplace initiatives.  Those projects have high potential not just to delight many more HubSpot customers, making them into marketing stars, but also change a relatively closed segment of the software industry into something more collaborative, more modern, more appealing, and more valuable.  Of course, I’m biased, but this is why I chose to work on them 🙂

As for what’s next for me?  I don’t know yet.  I wasn’t looking around while at HubSpot.  I’m taking a little bit of time to chat with folks and explore the many available options.  I’m lucky to have some reasonable skills in a decent market, and an open mind.

But I do plan to travel a bit, to relax and recharge, before starting to crank on the next thing, whatever and wherever it may be.  It’s kind of like walking half a mile in the 26.2 mile marathon.

One of the most important lessons I learned over these years was a hard one for me to digest and implement.  It’s summarized by Winston Churchill, but the key is that he’s not only talking about speaking in the verbal sense, but in our actions, our choices (career and otherwise).

Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.

Stay courageous, and stay tuned 🙂