A New Kind of Hero for a New Kind of World, Hero #1

(This post is part of a pact I made. Click here for the full story.)

Meet Victor.  For twenty years Victor was an entrepreneur.  Now, after he switched career lanes, he works with NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, MD as part of the team of computer engineers that is responsible for developing software for flight and non-flight projects. 

Victor did not find his career Nirvana in a blink. For more than 20 years, Victor was a suit-and-tie-wearing business owner. However, underneath it all lay dormant a passionate engineer.  And it may have taken twenty years for that engineer to come out and play, but when it finally did, it made a splash.  It was the awakened engineer that drove Victor to sell his business, move states and go back to school.  It was that same passion that drove him to complete a Masters in Computer Science (MS) at Georgia Tech after being away from academia for twenty-five years.

Note to self: Passion is power.  Tap into yours.

This is what Victor says about passion: “Try to find a way to say every day, ‘Cool, I get to go to work today!’ Pursue what you enjoy.  If you do so with passion, and you do it well enough, you’ll find a way to make a living.  I always wish I had pursued what I liked to do, engineering, from the start … I would be at the top of my game right now!  I love my job.  I’m willing to work very hard at it because it is truly rewarding.  I feel a part of something important.”

By most standards (even high ones) Victor is a smart guy.  Aside from his MS, he also holds a BS from MIT in Computer Science.  Yet for two decades he remained in a path that did not fulfil him.  As he wrote to me: “I didn’t like my job/company for many years.  I never wanted to be a businessman, but somehow found myself stuck with the position, and with the company.”

What was holding him back?

In his own words: “Fear of failure, too much debt, didn’t know what to do with myself.”

Note to self: It’s never too late to change – no matter what your circumstances are.  Never, never, never give up on your passion. Instead keep looking for ways to make the change happen.

Now that he’s transcended to the other side, Victor says:

“Seek advice from someone older, smarter, wiser. Many, like me, create our own barriers.  Get professional help if you feel stuck.  Always stay positive, never give up! (And) Work really, really hard.”

How did he manage to let go of twenty years of professional baggage and debts?

He met a life-partner who was understanding and supportive.  What he wrote to me gave me goose bumps: “I got married.  (My wife) has been incredibly supportive.  I probably wouldn’t have had the courage to make such changes without her by my side.”

Note to self: You’re not alone.  Reach out for the support, guidance and help that you need to make change happen.

He also sold his business, which helped him get out without incurring the large expenses involved in closing a business.  Part of the deal was that he would stay on contract as one of the VPs.  This bought him time to decide his next move.

Note to self:  Keep asking ‘how can I make the change?’ and continue to explore options until you find one that works.

What has Victor learned from his process – that you and I could too?

“If you don’t like what you’re doing, be willing to explore something else.  If you’re in school and don’t like your major, change it, or try courses in other disciplines.  Going back to school was both the hardest, and one of the most rewarding, things I’ve done in my life.  Georgia Tech was a chance to do it better (the second time around).  And I did!  And loved every minute of it!!!”


Photo? Courtesy of NASA

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.