Innovation Management Wisdom

Reflections on Quitting My Job and Starting a Business

March 1st, 2012

Jason Sherman reflects on purpose driven living, money and obsession since quitting his job ten years ago to start a qualitative and customer experience research and innovation firm.

I quit my job with a big company ten years ago to start Whyze Group. I love my life. Have I ever looked back? Yes.

Fleetingly.

I miss the social perks, the rows of offices filled with fun, quirky colleagues. And, despite the layoffs and executive greed regularly described in headlines, I sometimes long for the illusion of security I felt getting a regular paycheck that had a Fortune 500 logo on it.

Today, my corporate clients, pressured to do more with less, are feeling less secure in their jobs. I listen to them and apply a comforting salve of acknowledgement and advice when I can. I obsess over the production of scintillating reports and presentations that make our clients heroes within their companies.

My obsession extends to other areas. Are we fulfilling our mission?

I look for validation: our ten year track record, our growing list of Global 2000 clients, the level of confidence clients place in us, the caliber of people we attract–Ivy leaguers, visionaries, and the kind of people Seth Godin calls linchpins.

Revenues have grown, too, but it’s never been about the money.

It’s been about the mission. That is, to help companies learn what customers experience and to innovate so that all parties–companies, customers and investors–benefit.

Altruistic? Yes.

But, when I attempted to confine myself to pure pragmatism, I kept returning to this thought, “What’s the point of shooting lower than altruism? We can do well by doing good.”

And, we have done well and good:

  • We’ve been innovators in qualitative research and hybrid methods for surfacing deep insights into customer experiences.
  • We created ways for organizations to far more easily internalize and use what they learn. I’m proud of our case studies.
  • We presented the first national AMA workshop on research and innovation in 2003.
  • Our white paper on research and innovation was the first of its kind cited U.S. Department of Commerce Baldrige National Quality Program.
  • We invented the Management Beliefs Audit, which helps organizations align their people and resources toward achieving what’s most important to customers. (Whyze Group is still the #1 search result on Google for this.)

We began doing these things more than ten years ago because they were consistent with our mission–providing easy ways for companies to acquire insight, learn and innovate.

Our mission is resonating with a growing legion of fans. Our clients talk about how working with Whyze Group is different here and on Linkedin.

Our mission is also getting more interesting. Social media and mobile computing are dramatically expanding opportunities. They’re driving demand for services like ours that provide the insight expertise, creativity and perspective needed to maximize these technologies. We’re partnering with top experts in social and mobile who augment the unconventional whyzdom we provide and are incredibly stimulating, fun people to be around.

I’m very excited about the next ten years.

I’m grateful to Whyze Group clients and colleagues for supporting our mission. I’ve gotten to work with people I enjoy and have had the privilege of choosing how I invest my energies each day.

There’s an irreplaceable joy that comes from that.

To all Whyze Group clients and colleagues, thank you.

- Jason

Jason M. Sherman is president of Cleveland-based, Whyze Group. Whyze Group provides qualitative, customer- and user-experience research and innovation workshops to Global 2000 clients. The company has been recognized by the Baldrige National Quality Program, business associations and numerous business media as a leader in research and innovation.

Connect with Jason on Linkedin.

Follow @JasonMSherman on Twitter.

Receive alerts by email.

Email Jason here.

Jason direct: (440) 785-0547.

Entry Filed under: News, Qualitative Research and Innovation

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