I've worked on a lot of cool stuff over my career, both as an employee and on my own. I've met a ton of awesome people along the way (and some not; you know who you are), and I wouldn't change any of it.
Here's the thing:
I can't say that I've been happy
I've worked up and down the food chain, as a developer, an architect, manager, evangelist; heck I even made my living as a designer for a few years. Lately I find that I appreciate the allure of the steady paycheck less, especially given the trade-offs in working as an employee. Typically, I have very limited creative control, and end up making a lot of compromises between my passions and my employers' expectations. More than I'd like.
Boiling it down, here's what I like:
- learning things
- creating things
- helping others to learn and create things