Today’s Five for Friday is actually a guest post from Billy Bob Brigmon, sales director from Tidemark. Billy Bob recently left Oracle after a very successful tenure in sales at Oracle to join Tidemark.  This week he shared some insight on what prompted his move on his personal blog. We are republishing his blog with his permission.

Here is Five for Friday with Billy Bob Brigmon.

‘Cause baby’s always talkin’ ‘bout a ring

And talk has always been the cheapest thing
Is it true would you do what I want you to
If I show up with the right amount of bling?
- “American Dream”, Switchfoot (Oh! Gravity, 2006)

Oracle is one of the most successful companies in history and most people that work at Oracle are paid more than any other company would pay them for a similarly defined role. In fact, I made the best money of my career at Oracle.  Many assume that a sales person’s job satisfaction is primarily a function of their commissions haul. If that were true for me, I’d still be at Oracle.  The decision to leave Oracle was actually a very easy one for me.  Here’s why:

Insurgents vs. Incumbents

It is much more fun, exciting, and rewarding to go to work for an insurgent than an incumbent.  Insurgents inspire passion – you’re part of a small army taking on the big guys against all odds.  Insurgents are surgically focused on delivering innovative capabilities that add measurable value to customers.  Incumbents inspire slothfulness – there’s nothing inspiring about generating FUD and inventing new reasons for compliance audits.  Incumbents are typically motivated to delay – rather than foster – innovation and disruption.

Hedgehogs vs. Foxes

The philosopher Isaiah Berlin’s famous essay from decades ago divided writers and thinkers into two categories:  hedgehogs and foxes.  Hedgehogs view the world through the lense of a single idea, while foxes draw on a wide variety of experiences and for whom the world cannot be boiled down to a single idea.  I tend to frame working at Oracle versus Tidemark (or any startup) in a similar fashion.  In huge companies, there are huge teams of people for every function – resulting in very tightly framed roles & expectations for each employee.    There are very limited opportunities to “swim outside of your lane”.  As you spend more time working in this “hedgehog” environment, I argue that your value to other companies actually diminishes.  Few other companies have such narrowly defined roles.   I personally prefer a company that calls on its team members to be foxes – expecting a broader range of contribution with more loosely defined roles.  This makes for much more interesting and rewarding work – and I think ultimately builds more career options later in your career.

False Metrics

Seth Godin’s blog – Avoiding False Metrics –  brought back so many memories of life in the mega-company.  It is virtually impossible to identify the specific impact your work is making when you are working in a huge company.  My comp plan would tell me that I was exceeding quota, but there were sometimes 100 other people getting paid commissions on the same deals – what was my impact?  When individual contributions are harder to identify, it fosters an environment where everyone focuses their energy on creating “false metrics” to promote their contributions.  The skill set you develop is a skill of gaming the system – not of creating real value for customers.  “Making your numbers go up is pointless if the numbers aren’t related to why you went to work this morning.”  In a startup, there’s nowhere to hide.  There are no systems to game.  There are opportunities everyday to grab an oar and help row – and once you’ve arrived at the destination, you feel like your rowing made a difference.

Specifically, Why TIDEMARK?

For the reasons mentioned above, the decision to leave a huge company for a startup was an easy one.  So, why Tidemark? Tidemark is focused on solving some of the most important challenges in the intersection of three of the biggest trends in business:  Mobility, Cloud, and Analytics. The leadership team has a well-established track record for generating value for shareholders and customers…and for sharing that success with employees.  For more than a decade, each year has established a new record for corporate spending on BI & Performance Management. In spite of the incredible spending, most corporations’ capabilities in these areas haven’t matured.  The first company that provides capabilities that actually improve corporate performance will become an extremely valuable company.

I believe Tidemark will be that company.