My Purpose for Building
My goal for 2020 was to build a brand (LiveLoveApp) that represented the best for your project. I want to take a few minutes to reflect on my purpose for building.
My broad vision for starting a new company (of one) was threefold:
- A policy against policies
- Giving back
I'm still committed to this broad vision, but I've also learned a few things along the way, and I want to share with you what I've learned.
For this humble beginning, I was able to build. I built websites for Boy Scouts, for friends, for family, and often for little to no money.
I graduated with a Computer Information Systems bachelors degree, which for what it's worth, was the only gate through which one could pass through to get into the field of Computer Science, to be a programmer, a DBA, a systems engineer, or any related field, at the time. It was 2005, and while the web was not new, it was accelerating in the pace of development techniques. I landed, through some friends at school, a paid (paid!) internship at the private college down the road. Hamilton College, my colleagues, the administration, staff, and faculty were excellent.
After a few years, I joined a small company focused on technical training. I had completed my Masters in Business Administration was ripe to put my learnings into action. I wanted way more than I could handle, and I was eager for growth and expansion, both in my personal success but also for the company and my colleagues. The challenges that we faced, worked through, and sometimes were defeated by, were varied. From building web applications, HyperV-based cloud computing, fail-overs, SANs, hiring wonderful people into new technical roles, and in one instance, firing people from malfeasance, the journey was one of joy and pain. Joy in the moments of building, and pain in the moments of let-downs, frustration, and sometimes, just the amount of work that was before me.
From there it was time for a pause.
Every now and again I need to pause. If I don't, I end up getting burnt out and planting the seeds of regret and bitterness. While I've had to rip some of that out of my heart on occasions, it's a pause that provides me with perspective. During my pause, I learned new coding frameworks and technologies, and I often blogged about what I had learned or about what I was building. I dabbled in consulting, building out a few projects for clients, and I also put my toes in the water of ministry by working at my church. This was refreshing and fun.
From there I had my first formal experience as a software consultant. With years of full-stack web development and leadership experience, I was put at the helm of a software consulting firm as the CTO. What a privilege it was for me to learn from my colleagues. I gained immense knowledge of software solutions, efficiency, resource and personnel planning, development velocity, and much more. Most importantly, I gained immense insight into how to lead, how not to lead, and how to let others lead.
What I enjoyed the most through the journey was building; building relationships with people and building solutions.
Building a Company
I use the word "company" with hesitation. While I have an LLC, complete with official articles of organization, an IRS designated EIN (employer identification number), a website, and a logo, I hesitate to consider this a company. After all, there's only one "employee" -- me.
My purpose for building a company (of one) is:
I learned from my pastor that building relationships is the single most important thing that we can do this side of heaven. While I must admit I have much to learn about building and maintaining relationships, I think he was right. It's the relationships that are meaningful, long-lasting, and help to shape ourselves and our pursuits.
Relationships within a family, a community, an organization, and with other organizations and leaders have guided me along my journey towards building. My personal relationship with Jesus is paramount, followed by the relationship with my wife and family. This inner circle of relationships is where we can be the most vulnerable.
Relationships within an organization are also key but are by no means, meant to be confused with the relationship of a family. One of my biggest pet peeves is the whole "family" crap that is perpetuated within many organizations and corporate entities. With that short rant set aside, I have learned that the relationships that we build by working alongside people is important in so far as what we are building, and how we strategize, plan, and implement solutions.
In the world of technology, the goal is often a solution. Sometimes this is a solution to a specific problem at hand, maybe putting out a fire, fixing a bug, or getting a pull request merged. While those solutions are necessary, it's the vision of a future that drives the best solutions.
Solutions are why I build. It's why I get up in the morning, brush my teeth, and after some time to read and reflect, I sit down at my keyboard, ready to code, ready to build.
What solutions are you building? What problems are you solving? What is the vision for which you build?
If you've made it this far, well, here we are. We're building -- something that is potentially easy, trivial, and maybe even meaningless in the span of our lives, or hopefully something that is near impossible.
What do I want to build? I want to build something nearly impossible to accomplish, and so I'll start with building this company (of one).
What do you want to build?