I’ve been asked by people, inside and outside of Taiwan, how I got to Taipei, Taiwan. It’s a long story, but I usually sum it up with a simple answer, “I was bored”. While this is true, it doesn’t explain much.
On this site, I usually write less about myself and more about my insights. This post is more “me” centric but I hope you still find it useful. The following is how I got to Taiwan and I will post about why I am still here in the near future.
During the late 90s I was a post-secondary student caught up in the hype of the education system. The hype I’m referring to is the idea that as long as you get an education, you will end up with a great career. Although this is true for some, I’m sure most post-secondary graduates find their professional lives quite unfulfilling. I was the latter.
I graduated from an engineering and design program with a focus on building sciences. After I graduated, I left British Columbia. I headed to Calgary, Alberta looking for a career in the oil and gas industry, since that was where the money was.
I started in the design department of a company that manufactured moveable buildings. These buildings housed electrical and mechanical equipment for use in the oil sands project in northern Alberta. I drove a nice car and I wore nice clothes to work.
After about a year I grew tired of the mundane routine of office life. I gained contacts and contracted my technical services to other companies. I did this work on my own during weekends and evenings. I wrote more about my early contracting experiences here.
One of my main clients offered me a full-time contract, I took it and stopped chasing clients. The following year they nearly went bankrupt. My contract wasn’t renewed and I hadn’t maintained other clients.
I called contacts in the construction industry and got a job doing project management with a company that specialized in pre-engineered steel buildings. The company was mismanaged and the owner decided to replace the whole project management team. This included myself, even though I had just started.
These experiences left me jaded so I abandoned the construction industry. I had a few flaky sales jobs hawking coupon packages and the like. This got tired fast.
I wanted more sales experience so I took a job at a large big-box computer electronics retail store. This was early 2000s and I knew a lot about computers when they were just hitting the mainstream.
While at the store, a headhunter visited me. A previous client told him to talk to me. The headhunter trained people to use Solidworks — an unknown, at that time, 3D CAD program — and then placed them in jobs. He bugged me for a bit, but I relented after the Christmas buying season when commissions were terrible.
Back in the construction industry and working for a company specializing in aluminum and glass curtain walls. It was a good company with good people. Half were senior level, in their mid to late 40s, that had been with the company for awhile. The other half were junior level, in their early to mid 20s, like myself. This time I was convinced I was going to climb the ladder to success.
After about a year or so I realized that the guys sitting next to me were doing the same thing as I was. They did it better and faster due to their experience but it was the same thing — day in and day out. I was already getting bored and I was looking down the barrel of another 30+ years of the same thing. I was bored.
Taiwan Came Calling
While getting bored to tears at my comfy desk job, a friend had moved to Taipei to teach English. I chatted with him on MSN intermittently and I would tell him how bored I was, he would tell me to move to Taiwan. After a few months of this and almost two years later, I did. I gave away or sold most of my belongings, moved some stuff to my parents’ house and packed my bags for Taiwan.
I’ve been in Taiwan for over six years. I found my wife and a life that has more freedom. I won’t be here forever but my situation in Taiwan allows me to explore new projects and businesses that I would have never been involved in if I had stayed at my comfy desk.
The Moral of This Story
What brought me to Taipei, Taiwan was a sense of adventure and a need to escape the rat race. Maybe I’m wired differently, or maybe I am unemployable by conventional standards. What I do know is that when something isn’t going right then maybe you need to walk away from it. Even if it is a job, a career, or even a hemisphere. Don’t be nervous about starting something new and avoiding the herds.
What’s your story? Have you ended up on the other side of the world? Are you, literally or figuratively, thousands of miles away from where you thought you would be? Leave a comment.