I recently read that NBA Hall of Famer Dave Cowens left the Celtics mid-season one year to go drive a cab (he was suffering burnout and took the time to “clear his head”). That story reminded me of two tales of internet vets who left the industry to work decidely different jobs:

Frank Duff wrote A Coder in Courierland.

Once upon a time, I was a coder not unlike yourself. My day consisted of coffee, perl and java hacking, meetings, and e-mail. I had a cubicle with fluorescent lighting, my own bookshelf and two computers. And I traded it all in…

I can easily say that couriering is the best job i have ever had (and I have more than a few eclectic jobs on my resume). It is fun, the people are friendly, the stress is almost non-existent, it keeps you in excellent shape, and you spend most of your time outside (although this isn’t really a year-round plus in Toronto). And, even considering the fact that my pay as a courier is between half and two thirds what it was as a coder, it is a rare day that I seriously consider going back.

Scott Heiferman, now CEO of Meetup, wrote i was a 20-something dethroned dotcom ceo that went to work the counter at  mcdonald’s.

i spend a lot of time with bankers, lawyers, internet freaks, corporate wonks, and other people living strange lives.  as a good marketing guy, that’s a bad thing.  and as a practicing anti-consumerist, that’s a bad thing.  i got a job at mcdonald’s to help get back in touch with the real world.  also, after over 6 grueling years in the internet whirlwind, i wanted to experience a profitable, well-oiled, multi-billion-dollar machine. and  i deserved a break today…

i’ve been taught countless times the value of a leader/manager showing appreciation for people’s effort.  however, my instinct has often been that showing appreciation really isn’t too necessary for good people.  they just take pride in a job well done — and, anyway, they can read my mind and see the appreciation.  well, from day 1 at mcdonald’s, i was yearning for someone there to say “thanks”.  even a “you’re doing ok” would suffice.  but, no.  neither management experience — nor reading about management — teaches this lesson as well as being an under-appreciated employee.