Startup Life vs. Corporate Life

For those of you that don’t know, I am no longer in the corporate world of the wealth management business. Instead, I am now working for a San Francisco based startup backed by some of Silicon Valley’s biggest investors.

A lot of my friends have asked me about differences between the work environments and how startups differentiate from the corporate world, so I thought this would be a good time to compare my experiences so far.

Corporate life. 

Besides the depression and working with same types of people that constantly talk about the same things over and over again, corporate life wasn’t that bad.

I always knew when I had to get in. 8.

I always knew when I had to leave. 5.

I always knew what I had to do. What wasn’t always right for the customer.

I always knew what was important to employees: money, titles, and status.

I always knew there was an open door policy. Except the doors to the over-sized and overly-decorated offices would be closed every time.


Something I knew for a fact was that I would always have access to the best resources and I would always have a say in finding different ways to do things.

Ok that’s just BS.

I felt trapped. I felt defeated. I felt hypocritical to everything I believe in and preach.

Most importantly, I felt like I was making no difference in the world.

In all actuality, a corporate job is great for someone that is structured, doesn’t like change, and wants to know the exact metrics to making more money. It is also great for someone that thrives off the “prestige” in corporate titles like VP, SVP, or CEO of shooting shit all day.

1+1 will always equal 2.

Not all things are as bad I describe them. The pay was good.

Startup Life is a little different. 

For one, I work with people that are extremely diverse with very unique backgrounds.

Our CEO has already started several successful companies and invested in other startups that are making noise in their respective marketplaces.

I work with someone who just moved back after years abroad in Costa Rica and throughout Europe.

I work with someone who has a chemical engineering background, but is doing absolutely nothing related to that.

I work with a former Massage Therapist, who is maybe one of the hardest working people I know.

The point is that every person has a unique background and comes from a different industry.

Something that is the same within all of my colleagues is that everyone has a reason to be working at the company and everyone is driven to do something that changes the world.

Another big difference is that no one cares about their title and everyone has more than a specific set of responsibilities. We take turns taking out the trash and that is not “beneath” anyone.

The best tools and the latest technology? That’s an obvious. We understand that in order to do great work, you need the best tools that will make things easier and more efficient, tools that help you work smarter, not harder.

Open door policy? No way. Because there are NO doors. Everyone works in shared spaces as we are encouraged to collaborate with each other by bringing new ideas to the table everyday. We are also encouraged to give feedback to leadership and the developers to work out kinks and make the product better.

Totally a team effort.

If you are entrepreneurial, want to work on innovative solutions to real world problems, and want to learn how to run a company, the startup route may be perfect for you.

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