Better Than Widgets

I bumped into one of our graduated Iron Yard students yesterday and he shared with me that he was celebrating his first month at his new full-time position at an exciting venture funded startup as a professional developer.

He simply stated:

It’s the best job I’ve ever had.

Eyes wide, jaw dropped… I was stunned. I literally had no words. And that’s pretty much what I said to him as I gave him a big hug and shook his hand: “I have no words.” I was so proud of him and his personal accomplishment and I was so genuinely happy about his success.

Over-joyed, is probably a better word. My day was completely made.

I have known this student-turned-software-programmer for 5, maybe 6 years. We first sat down many years ago and he shared with me his hopes, his dreams, and his intent to head more into the world of software and technology.

But, perhaps more than that, he expressed a deep interest in taking control of his life and having a much better and more healthy lifestyle.

Fast-forward 5 years and he wasn’t much farther except he was now the proud father of a handful of kids (big accomplishment too!). We caught up and we chatted late last year and in a local coffee shop and I shared with him a new opportunity as a student @ The Iron Yard‘s newest Atlanta-based Academy. I knew it would be exceptionally grueling and the personal sacrifice would be immense.

He applied, interviewed, was accepted, and enrolled. He then battled through 12 life-changing weeks. They were anything but easy; he never gave up.

We chatted post-graduation a few times and I coached and counseled him on continuing to level-up his skills and to be bold and courageous about his search for the right fit. I can distinctly remember telling him these words:

I believe in you.

And I did. Was he at the very top of his class? No. But was he the type of person and future employee that was dependable, willing, and emotionally mature to create exceptional value for the right organization? Absolutely.

I spent the next few months traveling and I lost track of his progress. Yesterday, though, I was quickly caught up and unlike our previous meeting where I must have talked his ear off I simply had nothing to share except a wide grin and a long, deep hug.

I may have teared up a bit (or did he?) but I was moved and emotional. These were moments that I live for, moments that I can clearly cite as being worth my time, investment, and my very life. I consider these moments to be the very reason that I do my work and why I believe, through-and-through, that a mission-driven company with a clear and compelling vision is the only type of company that you ever want to work for.

I am not making “widgets” (are you…?) – I am in the business of changing lives. It’s impossible to imagine doing anything more important with my time spent on planet earth.