Phase shifting

I’ve noticed a cycle in my workflow that runs back a long time, probably into high school, runs throughout college, has stuck with me to this day. See, I seem to be a creature of phases, of renewal and curiousity and exploration. I seek out new challenges, take the road not even noticed, make things harder for myself. I can’t explain it. It’s just how I operate. I don’t slow down. I jump sideways. I phase shift.

And whenever I’ve found myself within the boundaries of some kind of institution, be it school, be it a job, be it just about anything that slows me down, chemicals and ideas within me start reacting, my energy changes, I reorient to address what’s in front of me. Sometimes, change ensues.

And so it’s been that for the last nine months I’ve had a full time gig at Flock — stumbling a whole lot, learning all kinds of great stuff, meeting and working with tremendously insightful individuals, traveling the world, falling in love, working long nights and sleeping less than I did in college; I’ve been in constant motion, bouncing along in the cockpit, weathering turbulent times both within and without our stuttering startup. I’ve struggled to find my footing, landing some successes that I’m really proud of, other times disappointing my colleagues and myself with my output (or lack thereof). I’m human, hey, and I’ve still got so much — so much — to learn. But throughout, ya know, it’s been a thoroughly enthralling experience.

Ok, to get to it already: as of April 1, I’ll be a free agent. This is wholly my choice and at my own discretion. Indeed, I initiated it. And the good folks at Flock are supporting me in this decision. In fact, they’re going to be my first “client” as I return to the land of independent consulting (which is what I was doing when I first moved out to San Francisco).

So the motivation? Well, first off, I thrive in small teams — where collaboration includes everyone, from top to bottom. This is how things started out at Flock, but due to the crazy demands of building a browser, just isn’t as feasible any more as we’ve grown to take on new and more diverse talent. Second, I want to focus more on the ambassadorial part of the position I’ve held at Flock (Barcamp, coworking, Mashpit, WineCamp, Microformats and all the rest). And to do that, I need more independence and the ability to flow between projects — to grow into some sort of an open source “editor at large”. Third, the timing is right. With Flock having just completed its move to and a number of internal reshufflings, I figure it’s time to exit stage left while things are really just getting off the ground and Flock’s internal culture is being formed. The past nine months have been getting us down the runway, and now that we’ve taken to flight, the next nine will determine what Flock is going to look like. And really, I’m going to be most effective out in the field, liasoning between projects and doing focused design work on the browser. So it’s all good — we’ve discussed this and it really does make sense.

So this bit about sublimating… here’s what convinced me that this is the right thing for me right now: the cycle that I go through with jobs and structure and so on is like the ice → vapor sublimation process. I started out at Flock as vapor, all energy, busting with ideas and ready to take on the world. Over time, I learned the ropes, slowed down a bit, condensed into water: amorphous and flowing, moving from one thing to the next. And now, as has happened with previous projects, I’ve turned to an idle form of ice, ready to sublimate into a new form of volatility, ready to take on the next challenges, to surface the next horizon, my next big thing.

Author: Chris Messina

Head of West Coast Business Development at Republic. Ever-curious product designer and technologist. Hashtag inventor. Previously: (YC W18), Uber, Google.

44 thoughts on “Sublimating”

  1. congrats man thats awesome. ive gotta update u on structured blogging wpmu project im doing at a local level. very maaad. congrats again, bb

  2. Hmmm…after reading this, I am not sure if I should say congrats or I am sorry to hear that..:)

    But I guess a congratulation for finding your way in life is more appopriate..:)

    – ØØ –

  3. Wow, man, I’m excited for you. I’m even excited for me, because it means I’ll be seeing some interesting non-Flock stuff on your blog, hahaha. Not that I don’t love Flock! Just curious to see what you run off to next.

  4. Congrats on the taking the plunge for the next step as Ambassador of Experience. Glad to have met up at tagcamp and I’m loving my flock t-shirt.

    Let me know when you and your PiC are in Vancouver.


  5. Hi Chris. You’ve been inspiring in your work and it’s been neat to watch you go from vapor to water (which I think has its own growth opportunities), to watching the secondary thoughts begin to take on a new form and see your particle density shake loose again. You’re now rather firmly implanted in a certain orbit that I can only think will help you stabelize success. Keep us informed. In a few months I think our little baby might use some of your energy & expertise.


  6. Alternative title: FactoryJoe, unflocked.

    Does it make you more cool or less cool? ’cause I am only friends with cool people.

    Seriously — congratulations. You needed that.

  7. Chris,

    Every man’s life consists of some decisions that only make sense to him. It takes courage to follow your own path without requiring that everyone understand or approve of it. It takes couorage to be the unique person you are. Because I respect that kind of courage, I applaud your decision, though like Daryl, I hope this turns out to be an April Fool’s joke. If it’s not though, I wish you the best.

  8. Wow… Good luck Chris and good luck Flock! I hope they find someone as passionate and intelligent as you to keep the lines of communication open, and I hope you find something as exciting and inspiring to champion!

  9. Same as Eric, I hope you find the next foothold to be as invigorating as Flock was for you. We’re all watching you and hoping to hear of your steps soon. Keep it up, pal!

  10. Congrats Chris! Free agent on April fools… hmmm 😉

    I look forward to your new adventures. This means I might be able to tap into your creative consciousness on a new collaborative project – weeee!

    RE: sublimation. There’s something to be said about the power of glacial movement. It’s a shame it takes so damn long. Therefore, I raise my glass in a toast to phase transitions!

  11. Congrats for taking the plunge! Less of a commute, and you can join the beduin office crowd hopping between cafes in search of the best coworking environment.

  12. Totally!

    And no, Daryl, this isn’t an April Fool’s joke. 😉

    And everyone else — thanks for all your support. I’m jazzed about the number of opportunities coming out of the wood work — so many great opportunities — so little time!

  13. Good for you! You are going to be a fabulous success, I just know it. Keep us all posted, this is going to be very interesting.

  14. Congrats! It’s great out here in the free agent nation. I haven’t had a ‘job’ in a year.

    good luck!

  15. Hmmm, I’m speachless. The one person who pretty much hyped the hell out of flock to get me started with it, is leaving. I’ve never expirienced anything like this before, it feels kinda strange to see someone just go away, as easy and simple as that.

    on a lighter note, Good luck! I think the feild will be better, in a sense that the field will be more exciting, entertaining, and will promote MANY more great ideas.

    Just make sure to stop by in #flock everyonce in a while. 😉

  16. Editor at large = Full time mafioso. This is excellent news, I’m really happy for you.

  17. I will greatly miss the close proximity of your energies and skills. I look forward to working and playing with you throughout our careers.

  18. A big big loss for Flock; they will feel the pain. Let’s try to get a drink soon and see what interests you. I’m sure I can throw some clients your way.

    Good luck!

  19. I have to repeat that: good luck, may the force be with you and many many good ideas.

    Keep up the good work – and I’m curious on what we’re going to see.


  20. So this means more cool projects out there will get the Messina Magic? Excellent news! And well done. 🙂

  21. Pingback: BrainJams
  22. This is great news Chris – congrats.

    now you will have time to come to Ireland and sample some real beer (i.e. Murphys Stout)!

    Looking forward to seeing you in Cork!


  23. Hello Chris:

    I’m really new to blogging, even though I’ve been involved with web browsers (as a user) since they started way back with Mosaic, Gopher, Veronica and Archie.

    I’m very excited with the way Flock is evolving. Have been using it since day one. Since you were part of the original team, it’s a little sad to see you go. However, you have to follow your dreams or “gut feeling”. The Spanish poet said it best when he said, “Caminante no hay camino, se hace camino al andar”. Walker, there is no road, you make the road when you walk. Go ahead and make your roads for other to follow, there is still of lot in you to share with all of us.

    Best of luck,


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