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Always Own 51% Of Your Company (How To Be a Project Manager)

December 9, 2022

Steve Jobs along with Steve Wozniak, founded Apple Corporation in 1976. Twenty years later, in 1985, Jobs was fired from Apple. He was later asked, “What did you learn from being fired?”

I learned you should always own 51% of your company.

In other words, if you have a controlling interest, you cannot be fired.

Project managers don’t own their projects, of course. But, just as Jobs lost control of his company, a project manager with insufficient control over his or her project risks losing control of the project.

That’s what happened to me at my last company. The reason I didn’t have control had more to do with my tech lead gaslighting. I was the newest member of the team. Terry, my tech lead had been with the company for years. He gave lip service to me leading the project, but it eventually became obvious that he wanted to be responsible for the project, not me.

What happens when you lose control of your project? For me, it became obvious I wouldn’t be allowed to make a decision. So, I didn’t. I started to defer to Terry in everything. Even things I could have decided on my own, became, “We need to have Terry for that decision.” I also started documenting EVERYTHING. My emails included Terry in everything. There were still times where Terry was gaslighting me. But, by that point I realized my time at the company was coming to an end anyway.

Could I have kept control? Probably not. The company was small. Terry had immense control and whether he realized it or not, he was not interested in letting me have any real control. And as my father used to say, “If you don’t have the authority, you don’t have the responsibility.”

If you find that you cannot own your project, it’s a good idea to cut your losses and tart looking for another position.

Stay safe

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren. Order Miscellany III A Collection of Holiday Short Stories, an anthology including his latest short story, “You Can Call Me Dan” here

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