The Techie and the Entrepreneur

For most of my life I was known as an IT guy. In high school, I was the go to guy for computer support, setting up networks, connecting to the internet, etc (most of the time I just had to remind them to reboot the computer). In college, I was the go to guy for web design and building sites (in 1998 my roommate and I were running a Linux server in our dorm room to power a textbook exchange service for students).

After college, while working on my content management software company, I was still known as an IT guy. Even with dozens of employees, whenever asked about my profession, I’d say software entrepreneur, and the most common follow-up question was, “Do you work out of your house?” Clearly, the word “software” took more precedence over the “entrepreneur.” People still looked to me for help with IT projects.

Sometime in the last five years I became known for entrepreneurship and no longer known as an IT guy. Perhaps it was because I was focused on digital marketing software and not website management software. Perhaps people didn’t need as much IT help as Macs and iPads were so much more prevalent. Regardless, people were coming to me for help with their startup, and not for their IT needs.

I wanted people to view me as an entrepreneur and not as a techie (even though I love technology). I had arrived. I’m an entrepreneur first.

What else? Do people think of you for one thing when you aspire for something else?

4 thoughts on “The Techie and the Entrepreneur

  1. Yes, I don’t think our reconnect last week would have been as fun or exciting for either of us if I asked you about IT stuff. First, I love my Windows machine. 🙂

    Also, I was just thinking about this. LinkedIn has an unusual way of constantly bringing up endorsements for others (to endorse you/ me) using popular tags, even if those tags are old. I’m trying to segue from Supply Chain Ninja as a consultant to Entrepreneurial Ninja. It takes time and some — let’s call it — Public Relations and Personal Brand Management (my MBA buzz words are going off the chart this evening!) to really make that transition.

    Luckily, my new network connections are being introduced to Daryl Lu the Entrepreneur rather than the Supply Chain consultant. Also, my older/ existing network is starting to see my new passions. I’m kind of like a beautiful butterfly.

    Thank you, David the Entrepreneur.

    ** Next challenge: Brevity.

  2. Hey David,

    Thank you for the valuable insights you offer, which without fail come to my inbox daily. Thank you also for being a leader in the Atlanta startup community and providing valuable insights and mentorship to many.

    What you describe is a very interesting phenomena. Although it might seem as a behavior (what you do), it is a strong identity shift (who you are). When seen from the outside in, these shifts appear as external and behavioral. i.e. “I was viewed as x because I did x, but now I’m viewed as y because I do y.” In my experience, most often people (including ourselves at times) miss the internal shift that happened long ago which actually made the transition possible.

    I don’t know you personally, but I know of your work. What I can say is that your identity and what you defined yourself as, seemed to have shifted long before people started noticing. If you take your body of work, Pardot, ATV . . . including this blog which I think is one of the biggest vehicles for showcasing that identity shift, you can see that once you made that choice/shift/internal change of how you viewed yourself, it was reflected into the world.

  3. Congrats on overcoming your label of the past, at last. Some labels are easier to overcome than others though. Mental Illness labels are more difficult but the right one right one as opposed to a wrong one (label/diagnosis) can mean the difference between an unsuccessful and a successful treatment.

    Thanks for the post, it made me think of social stigmas in the bigger scheme of things.

  4. I see myself in your story. Very similar life experience. Now I’m working on new projects, trying to find the exit of the IT world and enter the entrepreneurship universe.

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