Rebooting My Life

This afternoon I’m jumping on a train to perhaps the loveliest European city I know: Copenhagen. Tomorrow the tenth reboot conference, and a hell of a lot of exciting changes in my life start.

After over seven years as an Art Director at Sinnerschrader, I quit my job. As of today it’s official, and as of the first of September I will be unemployed a freelancer designer.

Most of my colleagues jumped to a number of conclusions once they heard: I don’t like my new boss, I don’t like the company’s vision, I don’t like Matthias Schrader, I don’t like whatever.

Forget it. Chris, my new boss (Walli!), is a guy I very sincerely like and that the company’s needed for ages. I helped develop the vision, and as a direction for Sinnerschrader I believe in it and am proud of my part in it. Mattes is the German entrepreneur that I most like, respect and admire. I’ve learned bunches from him and will miss him. My colleagues are a pile of intelligent, interesting and funny folks that I’ll also miss. So why did I quit?

There are a few reasons, here in order of importance:

Homesickness Can be Cured

I miss Australia and Australians, simple as that. For the ten years I’ve been in Germany, all of my friends have heard the sentence, “Next year I’m moving back to Australia,” so many times that they’ve stopped believing me. I’ve stopped believing myself. Laziness, comfort and continual “one day” thinking kept it a theory, but I’m sick of hearing myself say it without doing it, so now I am.
I’m moving to Sydney.

Move to Grow

I was born in the U.S., moved to Australia at 9, moved back at 16, back to Australia again at 23, picked up double citizenship, and after bumming around the world for many months, I landed in Germany at 28. I’ve never stayed anywhere as long as Germany. I’ve never worked anywhere as long as Sinnerschrader. More and more intensely in the last two years, I’ve been getting sick of my comfortable, sedentary life. I miss challenges, travel, insecurity, learning, and all the other things that come with going somewhere and getting used to everything again. These things bring more growth than anything else I know, and it’s time to grow again.
I’m looking for some challenging uncertainties.

Mid-Life Cliché?

Sure, I’m 38. It’s almost officially time for a mid-life crisis isn’t it? Well, I haven’t bought a sportscar I can’t afford, I haven’t snagged an athletic, 19 year old, blonde girlfriend, and I haven’t renovated my wardrobe to try and look half my age either. I’ve quit my job, and will be going solo and moving to the other side of the world.
Mid-life crisis of the hyperconnected? You tell me.

What Now?

I’m preparing the countless things (I’m sure I’ll forget something) that are necessary to leave a country after ten years. My last day at work will be towards the end of August. I’m spending as much time as I can with friends I’ll probably not see for a long time. On the first of October I’ll be flying to Sydney and setting up a new home base there.

I’m Free!

As of the first of September I’ll be working as a freelancer, consulting and designing interfaces, primarily for the web. If you’re looking for someone who can analyse and understand your online problems, and develop interface concepts and visual designs to solve them, get in touch. Don’t let my new location in Sydney deter you. I’m fluent in English and German, am eager to travel by working anywhere, and believe in working through all the tools I use online. Say “hi” at hello AT mattbalara DOT com.

I also gave my first talk at the next08 conference a few weeks ago. To be honest it was terrifying, but also invigorating and addictive. Judging by the feedback, I believe I did a pretty good job, too. Have a look at the video. I’m working on new talks and looking for places to present them.

If any of this is interesting for you, now or in the future, get connected on LinkedIn or Xing, follow me on Twitter, and subscribe to this blog’s feed.

The blog here will also be warming up, with more regular posts, a new look and a stronger focus on design. I’ve often blogged about social media, and that’ll be shifting over to /message, where Stowe Boyd generously invited me to blog with him. My first post went online last week.

Although all of the changes are coming extremely hard and fast, and sometimes it makes me wobbly, I’m terribly excited and am more than anything else looking forward to it all. For the first time in a long time, I’ve got a solid, persistent feeling that the future rocks.

Comments

  1. Nice blog post Matt. It’s a brave thing to do but sounds to me like you’ve got it worked out. I think you will enjoy Sydney.

  2. Rainer says:

    Oh, Matt
    I’ve only known you for three months and worked with you for an even shorter time. Playing idea ping-pong and actually making things better together with you will be dearly missed. As well as, of course, all the personal fun and excitement that goes along with it.
    Good luck to you in your new life.
    @You out there: Go hire this guy, he’s good!
    Cheers,
    Rainer

  3. as says:

    I wish you all the best, luck, a wonderful wife, two wonderful children, a nice little house and for some future crises a better friend than me.
    Maybe think about adding some patches instead of rebooting all the time.

    Go and hire this guy he is an working animal!

    It was good to know you… over & out. as

  4. Fabian Sax says:

    Godspeed!