Four years ago, January 26, 2010, I started work at Code42 as a "support genius." When I started, there were something like 20 employees there. I could easily make a single batch of Chocolate Chip Banana Bread II, bring one of the loaves in to work, keep the other loaf for myself, everyone who wants some gets some, and there might even be some leftovers.
Now, I make a separate loaf for each floor and it's still gone by noon.
I have had so much success at this company, from working in several different positions, to traveling all over the country as an ambassador for the product, to being one of the old fogies who tells tales about what it was like working at the company before the rapid growth, before the investment and ambition, when everyone was on one floor and could fit on one tiny patio for lunch.
It's especially interesting to think of that success considering how my time at Code42 started.
The interview was my first after a 7 month stint at Minnesota Public Radio, and I did not think it went well. My technical interview was with one of the developers, and he admitted later that my technical skills were "a bit light". There was also a more "philosophical" interview with one of the founders of the company, and this was where I really think I failed.
"Tell me about your history with computers," he started out saying.
I explained how I was fascinated with computers as a kid, and played with the family computer, and checked out lots of books from the library about them. He pressed me on why I liked computers. After my explanation, he said:
"It seems like you read about computers more than actually do things with them."
Which was true! So true. So true about many things in my life, actually.
When I was a kid, I was fascinated by videogames. But from an early age, my Dad said "I don't intendo to get Nintendo," and the edict was laid down—if I wanted games, I'd have to pay for them myself. Without videogame-level monetary income, I got my videogame fix sporadically at friends' houses, and mostly by checking out copious copies of Electronic Gaming Monthly and Game Informer from the library. I knew all kinds of things about games, except how to actually play them.
Example: Kids on the choir bus talking about Castlevania? My response: "Oh, I hear that game is great!"
Even now I think about things and read things more than do them. At Coder42, our internal "learn to program" group, one of the developer-mentors said "What's up with you? Do you just read a lot?" because I was asking about a programming design pattern without actually having done much development myself. Yep, I read a lot. And then don't make anything with it or actually do it.
A great example, and the thing that actually inspired this post (I've been thinking about this post for a while without getting around to writing it) is my last substantial non-dream post, from November, about me and girls.
I had a lot of great comments on this, and a common theme with many of them was essentially: Just do it.
Thinking and reading and studying can only go so far in life. I like to think that you can read about something you should do, understand exactly how to do it, and then go execute. If you don't understand exactly how to do it, wait until you do.
But the problem with this is that unlike a videogame, you don't get to go back and try things again. Time is always moving forward, the time that you spend reading and thinking and studying takes out of the time that you could spend doing. It is so natural for me to want to observe life, forgetting that I can't go back and replay things.
I know that everyone hates this phrase, though I'd like to think it's only because it's the kind of thing tweeted by an aspiring rapper while driving drunk at 120mph, or the type of phrase superimposed over an instagram of conspicuous consumption. Or drug use.
The thought behind it though, and please stay with me here, is solid though. You only live once, so make it count. Memento mori—remember you are mortal, not so you shy away from great risks because you will die sooner, but embrace great risks because you only get one shot to make a mark. Studying is great, but if you think that you can exclusively read your way to a great life, you are mistaken. You have to go live that life.
This very post is a bad example of me sticking to the old ways. I know I started thinking about writing it immediately after those two posts back in November, and even wrote most of it back in January, but am only now getting around to posting it. I get to the end part, the money part, and I know I could describe it better, how I am encouraged to put myself out there and just do things! But instead I'm sounding like a middle school kid who fancies himself a Jr. Philosopher.
But the way I will make this fit my new point of view is by posting it anyway. I can't let making this perfect interfere with my ability to just post it and get it done. Here goes!