It was the endless hours on international flights in coach and getting laid off three times in six years that finally did it. Thirty years in high-tech, and the passion was all but gone. After the last layoff (a result of post-9/11 cost reductions at an Israeli optical components startup), I'd had it. Stick a fork in meÖ I was done.
Little did I know that technology would help me to a more satisfying, low-tech profession.
During the last year in high-tech, I was working out of my home just outside of the San Francisco Bay area where we had a couple of acres and a couple of horses. I started having longer and longer conversations with our farrier. He told me about going to farrier school and what his days were like. My interest was piqued. I had been contemplating making some kind of a career change for some time, and this was starting to look like a good possibility.
After the last layoff, I decided to pull the trigger. We sold our house, moved back to Southern California (where we were originally from), and I signed up to go to the Sierra Horseshoeing School in Bishop, Calif.
Despite my inexperience and age (49), I had one advantage that a lot of new shoers donít have -- enough cash to buy my rig, tools, and initial stock of horseshoes. (Thank you, high-tech severance pay!)
I also had the Internet -- one of the main tools I have used that helped me get started and stay competitive. It allows me easy access to the vast cache of information available on horseshoeing or horse health in general. Whenever I have a question, the Internet was, and continues to be, my main resource. If it werenít for the Internet, it would have taken me at least 2 or 3 times longer to get to where I am today.
The horseshoeing business is an old one, based on many years of tradition, and it is not easily changed. The Internet has created a paradigm (I hate using this word, but it actually fits in this case) for the industry as a whole. It has opened up a fairly closed industry and allowed the free and rapid dissemination of information that used take years to learn.
Information on new techniques and materials can be had with the click of the mouse. The Internet is also an unbiased way of sifting through the quagmire of (many times) conflicting information without the opinions of the people posting the information getting in the way.
It was a tough road for the first couple of years, but now that Iíve been doing this for nearly seven years, Iím finding it to be a very satisfying job -- much more so than when I was in high-tech.
I like my life now more than I ever have. I feel as if Iíve accomplished something at the end of the day. And as I get older and need to slow down, I can just do fewer horses and still maintain my current quality level as well as a sense of job satisfaction that I rarely had working in the fast lane of high-tech.
Thank you, high-tech. Thank you, Internet!
ó Jim Goede worked in high tech for 30 years in a range of positions. He is now a professional farrier (horseshoer) in Southern California.