By Christopher Patterson, as told to Violet Jinqi Wang

There’s one big difference between the corporate world and the startup world.

Meetings.

In the corporate world, meetings are often something you just do — boring, could have been summed up in an email, bleh.

In the startup world, you only take a meeting when you actually want to talk to the person.

Meetings in the startup world can spark conversation, build connections, and develop trust.

That’s why I love meetings, even though I’m an introvert at heart.

For me, the ideal work day would be a meeting marathon from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., then going home to chill out for an hour, then getting back to work.

Meetings save me from the black hole of Netflix. They keep me on track to connect with new people and accomplish extraordinary things.

I started my career at a relatively young age, joining the Navy right after I graduated from high school. By the time I was 23, I had already peaked in my Naval career as Engineering Watch Supervisor and lead engineering laboratory technician on a nuclear submarine. It was a good paying job with exceptional benefits. I was living in a great house overlooking San Diego with a bunch of friends. I even had a convertible. Life was fantastic.

There was just one problem — I hated my job.

I felt trapped. All I had to look forward to was going back to Prototype to train novices, then coming back to a submarine to do the job I was already doing — rinse and repeat. That’s it. That’s what the next 18 years of my career would look like. There was no path forward. The only option was to accept life as a cog in someone else’s system.

My experience in the Navy taught me a hard lesson: Money alone cannot define happiness. There’s simply not enough money in the world to justify turning myself into a machine. I hated the endless routine; I hated getting stuck; and most importantly, I hated the idea of doing the same thing over and over again.

After I left the Navy, I did exactly what I was “supposed” to do — go to college. Then, after a six-month road trip, I continued on to grad school just to be able to tell people that I was doing something with my life. I dabbled in, but ultimately abandoned, medical school, biomedical engineering, and radiology. Each of the career options could have looked impressive to others, but I wanted something else.

After those false starts, I finally realized that I wouldn’t be happy in any job where I could predict exactly what I’d be doing five years down the line. I needed to experience something that’s ever-changing and fresh. I wanted the freedom to captain my own ship, and turn it around whenever I wanted to.

So I went back to the first thing I’d ever done — entrepreneurship. Back in high school, my best friend James and I made a donation-driven online community. It was kind of like Slack, but only for nerds. I was the treasurer, using Quicken to manage the extravagant $89 we owned. Seventeen years later, James quit his job as a senior software developer and joined forces with me and our friend Andy to found Metisoft Solutions, a software development company that helps startups build their Minimum Viable Product (MVP).

In addition to building MVPs, we specialize in market research, branding, and pitching, on top of everything else you’d expect from a software development company. Between the three of us, we have a wide range of experience—from chemistry to computer science, biology to nuclear power, and submarines to airplanes. This breadth of knowledge and experiences helps keep things interesting at Metisoft.

We can go beyond simply building an app, which makes things ever-changing and fresh — freedom.

For me, meetings are one of the most important parts of my role as CEO. The software industry is mainly driven by relationships and word-of-mouth. Everything happens from trust and connections. I am not a developer, but I have figured out how to turn that into a strength — using my experience as a non-technical founder to bridge the gap between the abstract world of software development and the real experiences and desires of other non-technical founders.

Compared to a routine job, being an entrepreneur is no doubt more suitable. But, it has its rough moments. There are days as a startup founder that I find myself just lying on the couch. I watch the sun come up, cross the sky, and go back down, asking myself, “What am I doing with my life? How did this happen? Where am I going?”

And then I remember — just schedule a bunch of meetings and it’ll all get better.

 

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