Jeff Barr rode Amazon’s coattails to craft a specialized platform that created his consulting firm of 11 and his escalating reputation as a sassy commentator on all things Amazon.
Today’s New York Times profiles Barr’s hopscotch career path that has been propelled by saying things that others don’t have the guts to say, about Amazon’s complicated cloud service and its tangled bills.
How’d he pull that off?
By latticing. Here’s how the Times summarizes Barr’s meandering career path: Mr. Quinn took a roundabout route to becoming a cloud computing influencer. In 2003, he dropped out of the University of Maine, where he studied computer science. He hopped from one dead-end job to another before working at technology consulting firms and start-ups. In 2015, he was working at a financial technology start-up when the investment firm BlackRock acquired it. He left that job a year later to start his own consulting company.
Like the complicated bills he now is an expert at deciphering, there’s underlying logic to Barr’s career progression. Let’s put it in Lattice terms:
- Qualifications: progress toward computer engineering degree – though abandoned, it at least verified his aptitude and equipped him with basic skills
- Entry-level jobs at technology consulting and start-up firms – working at small companies gives you a bird’s eye view of all business operations and an appreciation for accurate billing. Small companies can’t afford to pay for less than they’re getting. That’s now the heart of Barr’s consulting firm.
- Barr also picked up an overview of how to start a company, by working at start-ups. He intuitively used Career Lattice techniques to zero in on a small platform he knew would grow: Amazon’s cloud computing services. Inexplicably, Amazon created a market opportunity by spinning out opaque invoices. Its inability to clarify its own charges has taken on a life of its own, and enabled Barr to position his invoice-auditing service as a quick way for his clients to save money. No doubt, Barr tells clients that they’ll save money from the minute he starts working for them.
Takeaways for your career lattice, especially if you are considering transitioning from staff to self-employment:
Make the most of working at a small office or company. Learn how the business makes money.
Friction = opportunity. Frustration = solution = potential business. Anything that drives people nuts is a chance to provide highly focused services with immediate, urgent benefit to the client.
Use your personality to differentiate. Amazon’s cloud services division is a faceless monolith. It’s the perfect foil for Barr’s attitude. After all, he’s the one being profiled by the New York Times – not an AWS executive.