David Jackson (name changed to protect the guilty) was the reason I became an entreprenur in 1982.
David worked me for a couple of years at Singer Link in Sunnyvale in late 70s. He, like me, was also an immigrant; albeit from UK. He was a decent engineer but by no means he was comparable to an IITian like me.
He left his job at Singer-Link around 1980. Around that time, I was beginning to feel in a rut. Having been at Link for almost 10, I was getting no satisfaction any more. I was making good money, as a matter of fact, very good money and had good happy life at home. My daughter was four and my sone was 1. At 35, I was at the top of my game and but felt that I had gone as far as I was likely to go. Indians were not in management and were not seen as managemnet material. We were typecast at techies. My boss used to tell me that he would hate to lose me as an engineer.
One fine morning, reading the local news paper I saw the news that David Jackson had started a computer company. It was a Z80 based, CPM machine for businesses. This is around the time Steve Jobs had started Apple computer. I was totally destabilized as an individual. Why can’t I be an entrepreneur like David? I for sure felt superior to David in every way; but here he had become an entreprenur but I was stuck as lifer, albeit a well-paid lifer, a defense contractor.
I just couldn’t sleep any more. I was miserable with my life. My wife started to worry about me. What has happened to you, she asked? I told her that I wanted to leave my job and try my hand at entreprenurship. She reminded me that I made good money, was respected at the job; we had two little children and two cars that needed to be paid for. Then she asked me if she was the one making me unhappy?
No, I said emphatically. It is that David Jackson who has made me miserable. He is an entreprenur and I am stuck at this miserable job. She said, I should do whatever I need to do to be happy but children must not suffer!
I left my job at Singer and took a big pay cut to get a job at Zilog, a commercial company. Having worked for a defence contractor, I felt I needed to find out if I was any good in the commercial world. I left Zilog a year later to start Excelan in April of 1982. I have never looked back.
My advice to people is not to stagnate in your comfort zone but to find your David Jackson!