I’ve only been fired once. This might sound like a gloomy topic but it’s closely tied into the Passionate About OSS origin story, so I definitely look back on it with fondness now, over a decade later.
I was CTO of a consulting company, but contracted out to another company in a Program Director role. The total value of the project I was responsible for was around $140-150m, but only $3m of it related to OSS.
At first I enjoyed the PD role and the project. However, the politics (and how adept some stakeholders were at using politics to avoid their responsibilities) on the project slowly wore me down. By around a year into the project, I was no longer enjoying coming into work (the only time in my entire 25+ year career, which I count as a true blessing BTW). I could feel my energy levels slowly draining away, drip-by-drip, day-by-day. There was more passive-aggression around the bigger project (approx $2-3B) than I even experienced during a year of butting heads with mafia plants on an OSS project in Asia. The only reasons I was staying with it were because it was an important project for the consulting company that employed me and I felt a duty to my project colleagues to get the project completed. My heart was no longer in it though (again, for the only time in my career).
I was also really missing OSS so that was what triggered writing the Passionate About OSS blog as a way of filling the void.
It was a big hit to the ego, but a massive relief, when the client decided to terminate the contract after ~18 months. The client literally said I wasn’t getting involved enough in the fights. I couldn’t argue with that. Happily, my direct employer (the consulting company) still kept me on and an exciting OSS project followed shortly thereafter.
In the meantime, the PAOSS blog roll was expanding. The blog then became the first book, “Mastering your OSS,” and consultancy projects started to flow in from around the world. The consulting opportunities continued to grow to the point where PAOSS needed full-time commitment. This is now article number 2,690 so it’s safe to assume I really, really like talking about the world of OSS! And I’ve loved working on every OSS project, before or since being fired.
I often look back and wonder whether I would’ve even started the blog if I was on a more engaging project back then. Would PAOSS even exist if not for the project that I was eventually fired from? Not sure the answer to those questions, but in hindsight I’m so incredibly grateful for being fired. It sounds silly, but so totally true.
Have you ever been fired and it turned out to be a significantly positive turning point in your career?