[Warning: The following post is an exercise in navel gazing. Feel free to skip.]
The fourth Thursday in November is Thanksgiving day in the US. It’s an interesting holiday since it falls on a Thursday, so about 3/4 of the people in the US get a four-day weekend. It is the official start of the end of year holiday season, and it is a time to get together with friends and family, to over indulge in eating, and to reflect on the past year.
My title at The OpenNMS Group is CEO, and often I think I suck at the job. I have worked for a lot of personally successful CEOs, but when I look at myself I don’t see in me the qualities I see in them. Note that I didn’t say that their companies were successful, but that they were “personally” successful. When their company failed they just went and got a job at another one. I can’t separate my personal success from that of OpenNMS and the people who work with me, and I lack the ability to pander to the world at large in search of Google hits and downloads. When we have a happy customer I don’t feel like that is “news”, that’s our job, and you won’t ever see me write a press release about “OpenNMS is the first to run on [new operating system]” especially if it is neither true nor newsworthy. As someone who is running their first company, it is very hard to look at what others are doing and not follow, but I can’t bring myself to do it if it isn’t the right thing to do.
At the OpenNMS project we have two main rules:
1) OpenNMS will not suck.
2) OpenNMS will always be free.
The second rule prohibits me from taking the easy way out and just coming up with a revenue model based on software licensing. Paying for software is the antithesis of open source, no matter what anyone else says. This means that the OpenNMS Group is a services organization – we do not sell software.
As a services organization, as well as an open source project, we live and die based upon the quality of our people. Thus I love Thanksgiving as a chance to give my guys a long weekend off, to spend with their families and re-groove their brains. Real CEOs refer to their employees as resources: like they were as replaceable as a bushel of wheat or a barrel of oil. My team is made up of people: extremely talented individuals, unique and irreplaceable.
With that long preamble let me jump into what I am thankful for:
I am thankful that OpenNMS was dropped into my lap. As I’ve mentioned before, I didn’t start OpenNMS. It was scary, and probably the riskiest thing I’ve ever done, but it has been one of the most rewarding decisions I’ve ever made.
I am thankful for my team at the OpenNMS Group. It would be a honor to work with you guys anywhere. When we are successful it will be all due to you, and in the slim chance we fail I hope you can forgive my leadership.
Life is about the journey, and even on the bad days I can’t think of anything else I would rather be doing. The thing I am most thankful for is my family who made this all possible. There are few people out there who would be so understanding. Hey, in those terms I am probably the most “personally successful” CEO on the planet.