E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

Let The Next Adventure Begin – The Origins

Life works in mysterious ways, doesn’t it? It comes and goes, never leaving you indifferent. It has got its own way of telling you when to stop, do plenty of thinking about why you were brought here in the first place and hop back into the train we all call the world to move onI guess this time around though it also had something else in stock for me. Something that has made the writing of this blog post kind of tough and a bit too edgy at the same time, not necessarily for putting it together, but for its implications thereafter. Once again, and probably for the zillionth time already, I am now back to my (no longer) regular blogging schedule and, after nearly two months since the last article I wrote over here, I have got a piece of news to share that may come as a surprise to some of you folks. Maybe. May be not. On January 20th 2014, I quit IBM. On my terms. Since February 4th, I am a now free man. Whatever that means…

Quit a surprise, eh? Yes, I know. It even was a shock for me, too! That’s right. Earlier on this year, to be more precise, on January 20th, I announced, to my former employer, right on the same day when I was celebrating my 17th year anniversary at IBM that I was quitting my job as a Lead Social Business Enabler and that February 3rd would be my last working day. I still can’t believe it myself and I don’t even know whether I may be regretting the decision over time, or not, but it’s now done and dealt with. That can probably explain the main reason why I have been relatively quiet in the last few months out there in the Social Web. It hasn’t been an overnight decision. Quite the opposite, it’s been already in my mind for about two years and all along I have been delaying it, because perhaps I just didn’t want to face it. Perhaps I didn’t want to come to terms with the fact it was time for me to move on.

But then again, signal after signal, conversation after conversation, and lots of thinking in between here and there, certainly help me arrive at the Christmas period where I was on holidays for a full month, away from everything, pondering whether it was the time for me to call it quits and do something else. Move on with my life. Picture me: a blank A4 piece of paper and a pen, two columns, one on pros and the other one on cons about whether I should stay or go, me frantically writing down for a good while on either column and at the very end reaching one rather massive conclusion. Picture this: family members doing the very same exercise without me telling them anything. Just writing down what they may have noticed. We compared notes. We talked. We were all shocked. The conclusions of both exercises were exactly the same. How weird is that? Or, better said, how scarily accurate is that?

It just felt right. It does feel right still. You see?, there is a time when each and everyone of us would come to terms with the fact that we would all need to question what we do with our (work) lives, figure out whether you are on the right track or not, whether we are still driven by the same passion as when we started working (In my case, 17 years ago), whether the motivation to carry on is strong enough to help you continue without deviations. I guess focus is the word I was looking for, you may think, right? Yes, probably, but I am more inclined to think I am looking more for a couple of other words: purpose and meaning.

A mid-(work)life crisis of sorts? Most probably, but then again, feeling all along, it may well have been just the perfect timing altogether. One where serendipity does its magic and helps provoke these happenings, just like that. I know that this may sound crazy, but I have always felt that my entire working career has been defined and shaped up by serendipity. And this time around was no different. Things happen for a reason. Always. No matter what. It’s just a matter, for each and everyone of us, to figure out whether we can see it or not. Oh, don’t worry, I am still currently going through that process myself, but I am now more convinced than ever before that it’s time for me to move on…

17 long years at the largest IT firm in the world can give you plenty of stretch to do and experience lots of different things. I feel privileged to have lived through that. In those 17 years at IBM I have worked in 6 different business units, with their own 6 different cultures, challenges and exciting opportunities, making them feel like as if I had 6 jobs already at any other place. I have had the opportunity, and the great pleasure, to work with some of the most amazing talented people I know. In fact, they are the only and exclusive reason as to why yours truly, an English teacher, after all, has been working for an IT firm for over 17 years while loathing technology to bits. No, I am not a techie and nor will I be pursuing a long term career in that field. I am all about the people. For the people. I am a connector. And when you feel that work for the people is now done and dealt with, it’s time to move on. On to the next adventure.

I am incredibly thankful, an equally grateful altogether, for all of the wonderful 17 years that I have spent at IBM. I haven’t got a single regret. There have been highs and lows, I guess pretty much the same as for plenty of you folks out there. I have had some absolutely stunning and beautiful work experiences working in an environment where a crazy idea, executed with lots of passion and brain, can change your life for good. And IBM has been a key enabler of that. The people. It’s what motivates me to come to work every day. Day in, day out. It’s what motivates me to have a smile on my face, to always try to be helpful, empathic, full of energy and passion, keen on both sharing my knowledge openly and learn from others at the same time. I guess that’s when the customer service skills course I did way back in time does pay off eventually.

But at some point, you realise that you start deviating from that people focus into something else. Something that you know, and see, it’s totally not you. Something I know plenty of you folks would be able to relate to, something that drains your energy out of you with no remedy taking away all of that passion and motivation to carry on. To help and care for others. And, that’s right, before it’s too late, you realise it’s the right time to make a move, to re-find your passion, your engagement, your motivation to push forward and, with a bit of courage and some bravery, embrace the unknown: quit your job:

That was the tweet I shared across a couple of days later, where I announced to my world that rather unexpected change. Then it all got rather emotional and intense, as you can imagine. The responses both on the Twittersphere, as well as internally, have been truly AMAZING! I have felt, in massive waves, all the love from those who I have cared for and helped dearly over the course of the years. And it hasn’t been easy adjusting to the new reality.

In fact, this is my first blog post writing about it (Other than that tweet). But then you realise that in the world of the Social Web, you are not going away from people, you are just breaking up the firewall, while trying to help all of those folks embrace that notion that networks are *not* organisations. They are porous, they don’t understand, nor comprehend, nor even care!, about what organisation you work for, or which one would pay your bills. Your networks would only care about you and your well-being based on how much you have nurtured and cultivated them over time. Your networks become you. You become your networks. All one. Your one. No-one else’s.

And then you realise that your departure is no longer painful anymore, nor sad, nor shocking. You then realise as well how it is all a big, massive celebration of freedom. You are no longer trapped. The wild duck continues with its journey. It’s just the new reality. Networks are the new swarms. And you are just an integral part of them and whatever physical and virtual barriers they are no longer an issue. They just don’t exist. You are part of that system of networks. And the journey continues. That’s where I am at the moment.

I am pretty sure that plenty of you folks are now wondering what I will be doing next, where will this wild-duck go this time around? What is he going to do with his new freedom? What’s that new adventure he keeps talking about and hinting here and there with somewhat cryptic and obscure hints? Will he continue working in a large corporate environment helping people adapt to that brave new world of becoming a Social / Open Business? Perhaps giving it a go at a startup? Or maybe going solo? Or will he open up this rather lovely lounge bar called Sunset Cafe right where he lives offering delicious cakes and refreshing cocktails? What will he do? What would you do?

The uncertainty is killing us.

Don’t worry. That same uncertainty is going after me as well. It keeps lingering at the back of my mind. And some times it grabs me badly reminding whether I have made the right decision or not. Whether it was all a mistake. Whether I will regret it over time. But then again that inner urge and intuition of letting serendipity do its magic, of bringing back the passion for what you have always believed in, and the excitement of that newly embraced freedom to focus on re-finding your purpose and meaning on what you do, they all do help mitigate some of that uncertainty. Either way, this is the first of a series of blog posts I will be sharing in the next couple of days of what and where to next. For now, a teaser: it’s going to be something completely different to what I have been experiencing over the course of the last 17 years, and therefore a completely new learning experience.

One where I am hoping my hybrid networks (internal and external) would become an integral part of to help us all continue learning along the way on what our purpose and meaning may have been all along…

Let the next adventure begin!

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  1. Luis, thank you for sharing the news.

    It doesn’t come as a surprise. I wish you all the best in your new endeavors and I believe good things will come your way.

    I look forward to talking to you about in Paris next week.


    1. Hi Ken, many thanks, my dear friend, for dropping by and for the kind wishes. Yes, I guess it was about time, right? I am pretty excited about it, since I have been feeling for a while that it was going to happen now and by the time it could have it would have been too late already. And while there is a bit of uncertainty out there about the whole new adventure about to unleash, there is also plenty of excitement about the potential opportunities. By next week, for when we meet up in Paris and everything, it will all be announced and I will certainly be looking forward to catching up.

      About time, too! 🙂

      Thanks again for the best wishes and see you soon!

  2. Luis,

    You were and you will always be an inspiration to me. I enjoyed working with you within IBM and I am looking to stay in touch ‘Outside the IBM’.

    All the best to you


    1. Hi Stefan, thanks a lot for dropping by as well and for sharing those lovely comments. It’s greatly appreciated, and I, too, look forward to keeping in touch “outside the IBM”. Thanks ever so much for the support offered over the years and for always being there helping out when I needed it and everything. I have had a great time and I guess it’s now time for a new adventure. Look forward to further interactions, although this time around, happening beyond the firewall 🙂 hehe

  3. Luis
    A “rather lovely lounge bar called Sunset Cafe right where he lives offering delicious cakes and refreshing cocktails?”….yes, sounds perfect!

    In all seriousness Luis, a new adventure that is filled with a completely new learning experience – what more can one ask for? The best type of adventure!

    Your success is assured , I have no doubt – so all that remains is to say “enjoy” and don’t waste time looking back at decisions you have already made!

    What kind of cocktails?

    1. Hi Marie-Louise, I know, right? I have already picked up the place (see picture above) that has got just the perfect ambiance, setting, stunning views and sunsets to die for! One of my favourite places where I live in the south of the island, for sure! 🙂

      Yes, the new adventure is going to be much different from anything else that I have experienced in the past and it feels a bit edgy at times, but I guess that’s good! It like when you have got butterflies in your stomach as you are about to start something new and exciting. Not necessarily nervous per se, but expectant as to how things will unleash eventually and everything.

      And, if things don’t work out, I will always have the cakes and cocktails, including my favourite one, mojitos 😀

  4. Luis – thanks for sharing your thoughts and motivation and once again all the best for your new path. Looking fw to Paris to get the adress of this nice little bar. It might get a bit crowded there when all your network will step by for a drink.
    I’m full of respect for the decision you’ve made. For sure it was not an easy one. I had to make a similar decision several years ago. Everything you described sounds very familiar. But it was the right decision for me at that time and I’m confident it’ll be the same for you.

    1. Hi Hans-Juergen, thanks a lot for dropping by and I, too, look forward to Paris next week, and will definitely share the tip on that lounge bar. The beauty of it is that it’s off the beaten track and it is relatively quiet, which makes it even more of a treat! Just brilliant!
      And thanks for the supportive commentary as well. I guess you probably know why I have made the decision I have made and the potential implications since you have been there before. I am excited about the change. I am excited about re-focusing my efforts on what drives me day in, day out, and I surely look forward to it.

      It may work, it may not work, we will have to wait and see, but I am surely going to try my hardest to make it happen. It’s the least I could do. Try it is where the effort goes. Not standing still waiting for things to happen 🙂

      See you next week!

  5. I had to stop everything I was doing this morning and read this post. And yes, I’m dying to know what you’ll do next 🙂 I found myself yesterday questioning some things about my life, incl. my work, so your post resonated deeply with me (thanks for that ;))

    The news that you were quitting were 1st surprising but then expected. I just could tell from your previous posts that something was not quite right. As long as whatever comes next will give you space to grow and learn more about life & yourself, be it a startup or a cafe, then you’ll do fine. And yes, we’ll always be here, I’ll always be here, no matter what you decide to do 🙂

    1. Hi Ana, oh, my goodness! You shouldn’t stop what you were doing, just to read this blog post, but now that you have done it, I do hope it was helpful, specially with that additional thinking exercise you did yesterday.

      I guess we all get to go through phases like that one to help re-evaluate what we have been doing and re-focus again on what gets up in the morning to keep moving on 🙂

      I can imagine how some of the itch to make a move may have come across in previous blog posts. Perhaps it was those articles over the course of the last few months the ones that, deep inside, were helping me out to finally make a decision and here we are. In an upcoming blog entry I will be sharing what next and everything, and it’s greatly appreciated the wonderful support provided over the course of the years! For now, onwards and into better things and look forward to seeing you soon!

      Many thanks, once again!

  6. Hej Luis,
    from an IBM collegue: all the best and good luck on your new adventure… we will miss your contribution and expertise within IBM – but from your words it sounds to be the RIGHT decision.

    All the best from germany to gran canaria

    1. Hi Michael, thanks a bunch for dropping by and for noticing this blog post. It’s greatly appreciated along with the support on what has been a rather uncomfortable and tough decision to make, but a much needed one as well, in that path of evolution towards embracing constant change and continue with that perpetual urge to learn.

      I look forward to further interactions over here and elsewhere and if you are ever on this neck of the woods (G.C.) you know where to find me 🙂

      See you soon!

  7. Luis – Missing you already. But looking forward to following your next journey.

    I call it an internal compass that guides us through life. Earlier in our lives, it is automatic and you make decisions without really thinking about them.

    But as we get older it is not automatic and we struggle to figure out where we need to go. It takes hard work similar to what you have done to come to the decision and take the required steps.

    The validation that you are following your compass will be as you start to love your next opportunity. Or if not, time to pull out the compass and find the right direction.

    Good luck mi amigo.

    P.S. Let’s hope in your next job your colleagues learn how to pronounce your name correctly

    1. Hi Wayne, my goodness! I miss you guys, too! I still can’t believe I have finally made the move and jumped the shark. It’s proving to be quite an interesting and intriguing experience so far!

      I will remember that internal compass as I move along at a time of change(s) and see how I will be moving along with it. You are absolutely right in terms of how long the thinking process seems to take the older you get! I didn’t think it for a minute when I was first offered the job of joining IBM 17 years ago, in a heartbeat, and it took me nearly 2 years now to finally make the move-on step 🙂

      I suspect you will enjoy the blog post I shared earlier on today, as well as the one I have got scheduled for tomorrow 🙂 Oh, and, yes! They all know how to pronounce my name. I know a bunch of them for over 10 years! 🙂 hehe

      Thanks a lot, my friend, for the kind comments and look forward to further interactions!

  8. Hi Louis,

    Wow, missed that tweet on January 23 (strange, I tend to never miss one of yours…).

    I know exactly what you are talking about. Although I took the decision after “only” 10 years with the company…

    First of all a big thanks for the inspiration, while at IBM and after I left. I am a fan.

    Next I wish you all the very best in whatever you do next and hope we can stay in touch. I will not be able to make it to Paris this time but am sure we’ll meet again.

    Les deseo un gran éxito y mucha suerte en las tareas que tienen ante ustedes.

    1. Hi Philippe, thanks a million for dropping by and not to worry about having missed that tweet. It pretty much made the rounds for a good few days that I hardly had a breather trying to catch up with it! Glad I have been able to capture it now for posterity in this blog post! 🙂

      Much appreciated that kind feedback comments and best wishes and I am sure we will be able to keep in touch and everything and perhaps bump into each other F2F at some point, since Europe is far too small nowadays and I wouldn’t be surprised. Yes, it may not happen in Paris next week, but I am sure it will come around!

      Thanks again for dropping by and see you soon!

  9. I didn’t get the chance to say good luck and au revoir before you left Luis – so let me do so now. You made a difference at IBM, and that’s something you can always be proud of.

    1. Hi David, awww, not to worry, I can imagine things may have been rather hectic and, right from the start, I mentioned how I was not going to send a single parting email or anything, since, to me, it’s merely a single “so-long! See you on the outside world!”.

      I do really appreciate as well those very kind and generous comments and I am sure you guys would be able to continue with that legacy moving things further into the next level! I will be looking forward to reading and learning about it all from a not too far distance: a tweet, a post, a comment 🙂

      Keep up the good work! And thanks again!

  10. Luis,
    it’s been great working with you – Italy will miss your speeches and your wit.
    Let’s keep in touch through your blog!

    1. Ciao Marco,
      The pleasure has been all mine and I, too, will miss Italy, although something tells me that it may well not be too long before I may be travelling over there for one of those speeches 🙂 hehe

      Thanks again for the wonderful support over the years and for dropping by over here on this thread and for the kind comments. Much appreciated, as always.

  11. Said it before and I’ll say it again, “I’ll stop the world and melt with you.” Keep on being that bright inspiration on the interwebs! You touched so many lives at IBM, now you have the chance to touch every soul on the planet. I can only imagine the amazing things you will do, Luis.

    And, once the world is fully changed for the better, I will be serving drinks at your beachside cafe to all our friends who dented the universe. 🙂

    1. Hi Susan, ROFL!! That would make two of us, wouldn’t it?!?! hehe I am much much obliged for the generous feedback and kind commentary I have been receiving since I announced my departure and I am really excited about the next adventure(s), whatever those may well be and whatever the Social Web will have in store for yours truly 🙂

      It’s been quite a fun ride at IBM, but I have felt over time that now it’s probably a good time to make the move and I am excited about the prospects of experiencing something much more different than what I have been doing now for that long. It should be interesting altogether!

      Ohhh, and you are ON!! for Sunset Cafe. I tell ya it’s a hidden gem in the south of the island that very few people know, but gorgeous to spend endless sunsets with cocktails on the side, breath-taking sunsets and fantastically energising conversations… I should post some more pictures of it whenever I can hehe

      Thanks again, Susan, for the support over the years as well! It’s greatly appreciated. Always.

  12. Luis –

    I have no doubt that serendipity will be kind to you – you are someone who makes your own luck by being incredibly generous.

    While you are transitioning let me take the opportunity to say thank you – for inspiring a generation of business leaders to understand the status quo does not have to be the way it is, for being a friend and supporter of mine personally and for the presentation we did together that I will never forget at Powerpoint Karaoke 🙂

    Whatever comes next, I hope I can help you succeed. Looking forward to catching up next week!


    1. Hi Rachel,
      Many thanks for dropping by and for that generous feedback and for all of the support all along as well. It’s been incredible and I guess it all makes sense now, I mean, the silence when certain conversations were taking place, the sudden cancellation of business trips and everything. Life works in mysterious ways, I can tell, but, hey, if next time around we end up doing some more Powerpoint Karaoke, please do count me in!! I think I still have got the pictures somewhere on my hard drive! 😀 hehe That was way too much fun and we *did* good!

      As I get to begin with my next adventure, I look forward to the opportunity where I can continue supporting the superb efforts you guys have been doing all along with The Community Roundtable. It’s been a privilege contributing to it with my ¢2 and I certainly look forward to interacting and learning plenty more how I can help further… I am certain the conversations will continue next week, while we are both in Paris. Going to be a fun, fun week!

      See you then!

  13. Luis – Congratulations! There is nothing wrong with change. Change is what keeps life interesting. And if down the road you decide it wasn’t the right decision, you can always find your way back. Good luck in what your next step is and keep in touch.

    1. Hi John, many thanks, my friend! I guess it’s now explained why I couldn’t make it to Connect this year and everything. I am glad the word is out now.

      Absolutely! I couldn’t have agreed more with you about how change is what helps us all move on forward and learn new tricks and whatever other skills 🙂 We shall see how the next adventure will unfold, but I am certainly looking forward to it, and not to worry, I surely will keep in touch. After all, something tells me it won’t be the last time we meet up F2F in this rather small world hehe

      Have a good one and thanks again for the lovely comments!

    1. Hi Keith! ROFL!! BRILLIANT! Love that quote and I am surely glad those wings will continue to spread even wider and on to better things! I look forward to further interactions, my friend, as I know where you live from all along! 🙂

      Thanks again for dropping by and for the giggle with that quote! Priceless!

  14. Congratulations Luis! I am looking forward to the next chapter of your life. Having made a couple of leaps into the unknown myself during this journey called life and never regretting any of them no matter how scary they seemed at the time I envy you.

    All the best.


    1. Hi Tony, thanks much for those kind comments and lovely words of encouragement. Indeed, that’s how I am taking it as well, and while things may be a bit too scary and uncertain, as I get to unleash the phase of that new adventure we keep calling “life”, the urge to keep moving, learning, and doing things along the way of what I have always wanted to do are bigger than those initial concerns. We shall see how things will be coming along, but, so far, I can tell you I’m excited and this outrageous and eternally optimist surely can’t wait to get things going. There is one more blog post on the series and then the new adventure begins! 🙂
      Thanks again for all of the support along the course of last few years! Looking forward to further interactions, too!

  15. Luis,
    It’s like I told you before, you’ve mattered to me and many others. Inspiration, friendship, insight, boldness and flair. I can hardly comprehend what the impact is you will have when you are a free man. Since you had such impact already on people that cross your path.

    So I can only say… It’s a journey, enjoy it, when you reach the goal the fun is over. So keep going, way more fun.

    CU soon,

  16. Hey Luis – congrats again – every word you write resonates in the extreme, about people, for people. I’m still with “my” big corporate … but my time may come as well. From one wild duck to another – you’ve made the right decision regardless of what will happen next. Wild ducks dare, wild ducks jump into the black hole – you’ve jumped and so your journey continues. We’ve never met, but you’re a friend in spirit, in passion. And so I wish you, my friend, the wealth of towering experiences I know you’ll have. Cheers! D

  17. Wow, I missed the boat on this bit of news! Having just gone through the same thing myself I understand all the feelings. I decided that after 14 years I really needed to steer my own course again, and although I have just moved employers the effect is so liberating it’s indescribable unless it’s actually happening to you. I wish you all the best in the future and I look forward to reading your future posts on this side of the firewall.

  18. I wish you all the success Luis. I did not know you had been an English teacher. The more and more I read your posts and your Twitter feeds from #e20s I realise that my views are very much aligned to yours. Not sure what that means in the long-run but let’s see. In the meantime, I wish you success

  19. Hey Luis,

    I’m surprised (just today it come to my notice), we will miss you!
    I wish you all the best in your endeavour. Let’s keep in touch. I follow your blog and also have you in my +Google Plus circles.


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