Skin In The Game: Why I Was Never Motivated In Any Job

After graduating, I spent five years working software engineering jobs, first in a global hedge fund, then a VC-funded AI startup. In both jobs, things were going great at first, but at some point, I started being chastised for not taking the job seriously.

It became a recurring theme in my performance reviews: Kacper is strong technically and works well with others, but to advance his career he needs to take on more responsibility.

To be fair, my managers were always friendly and genuinely tried to help me. After all, any employee should want to grow and not stay a junior developer forever. But my attempts at taking responsibility always ended up being half-hearted. Even when I initiated projects that were by all appearances a good fit for me, over time I would lose interest and gladly hand them over to somebody else.

What was the reason? I always felt that the effort I would put into the job would not be proportional to the reward. If I spent more time and effort on working harder, what would that give me? If I’m lucky, a promotion with a 15% raise — hardly life-changing. Not worth the investment.

The real beneficiaries of my hard work would be major shareholders: the hedge fund manager who’s already a billionaire, or the startup founders and a bunch of VCs. I had stock options in the startup, but my share was minuscule. Even in the case of a very good exit, my profits are unlikely to be life-changing.

The system of getting a fixed monthly salary does not incentivize giving your best performance. It incentivizes putting in the minimum effort necessary to meet expectations. Hence various motivational mechanisms: stock options, bonuses, promotions, kudos… For me, that always seemed like a band-aid solution. I knew I could never thrive in a system that doesn’t incite me to do my best, and one that stifles my creativity by forcing me into a specialized role with a narrow focus.

So I finally reached a breaking point, gathered my courage, and quit to be an entrepreneur. I’m now working on a micro-SaaS idea as a cofounder and CTO. Now the stakes are very different.

If I don’t do something, it doesn’t get done. The product doesn’t get built. The users do not come. I don’t get paid. I don’t become successful.

It’s challenging and exhilarating. I wear many hats, work on every aspect of the business and learn a lot. I am looking forward to the joy of turning an idea in my head into a product that real people use, love, and gladly pay money for.

Most importantly, I reap all the rewards. I finally have skin in the game. The future looks bright.

  1. 1

    I tried the same way with my medical skincare page that hosted on WordPress but didn't find the solution.

  2. 1

    great reading about your project. I have started the similar skin related project that hosted on WordPress. You can see on suttiskin.

  3. 1

    Glad to know you're feeling better working on your own. Hopefully, you'll have learned by now and do your best to "pass it forward" to your future employees.

    Helping people people become successful and overall happy is one of the brightest rewards you can get in life. Best of luck.

  4. 1

    Fantastic! Tell us about your new project.

    1. 1

      Thanks a lot! I'm working with my co-founder Chris on a Microsoft Teams bot CoffeePals that will help build relationships in remote teams and increase employee satisfaction. We already have over 350 signups on the website!

      The MVP will only have a "coffee chat" feature that randomly matches people together once a week for a casual chat.

      Beyond that, the roadmap has features like "watercooler" conversations, contests, and satisfaction analytics.

      I'll be posting status updates and other writing on my blog 🙂

  5. 1

    Totally agree with you. I've quit for similar reasons. But I'm wondering what incentives can an employer put in place to make employees feel like the effort is worth their time and the reward they're getting?

    1. 1

      That's a good question that I don't have an answer to. But I think everybody will have different motivations. For example, a friend of mine is mainly interested in solving technical problems and he's happy to work for an organization that lets him do that.

Trending on Indie Hackers
Event-based customer knowledge base - what do you think? 38 comments Idea to 350k Users 10 comments Building a Shopify clone🤪 (it's for a one-time small fee, no recurring fees/commissions🤩). 9 comments We just reached a major milestone: $500k ARR 🔥 7 comments Curious to know why aren't devs implementing WebAuthn for their sign-up & login flow 5 comments Hidoki - build in public 3 comments