By Sean Foran | April 7, 2011
I was watching a video this morning, a recording of a presentation from a national conference. And I realised something: I know, sort of, the person that speaker was just referencing. So I dug through my internet archive, and sure enough, I interviewed that person years ago. I got to thinking about it, and I realised I’ve been very fortunate in the people I come into contact with. I’m actually going to try and list them now.
- The first is easy: Walter Cronkite. As a Boy Scout, I was given the opportunity to ask an interview question to this iconic news anchor on a stage. My question was scripted, and I had no idea who Mr. Cronkite was, but it’s still an awesome experience. I was, I believe, 13.
- The second was a little bizarre. I was part of Post 6201, an Explorer Post run by Lockheed Martin. I was trained in Python there by Bob Duke, who (when not teaching a bunch of teenagers to write software) was designing the radar systems our fighter jets are using. That’s a bit surreal. Especially when you’re 15.
- The third distinguished person in the who’s who of Paddy’s life is Mr. Bruce Coville, author and director of the Full Cast Audio audiobook company. Bruce first agreed to give a writing workshop for me to a group of aspiring writers I had gathered around myself. From there, he gave me the rights to publish his “Am I Blue?” short story on the internet. After that, he served as a pen-pal and advisor. I was 16.
- The fourth person I had the pleasure of meeting was the one referenced above. His name is Felix Geisendörfer, and I was given the honour of interviewing him and Tim Koschützki about their startup and their company, Debuggable Ltd. Felix has since joined the node.js core team, which is a huge accomplishment. I use his work every single day. I was 17.
- The fifth person I met was Greg Dean, the artist behind Real Life Comics, which I was a fan of. Greg granted me an interview, and helped set up and judge a contest with me. It was a good time– I was 17.
- Next, at number six, is another surreal interview: Angelo Sotira, the CEO of deviantART. On the occasion of the launching of deviantART v6, I was given the opportunity to conduct an interview with Mr. Sotira. It was sufficiently intimidating. I was almost 18. I would leave for Canisius in a month.
- Clocking in at seven is my first Google employee. Mike Repass noticed me blogging about what I wanted to see from Google’s App Engine XMPP service. I was 18. He asked some questions about what I wanted, and ultimately put me in touch with…
- Number eight, Michael Davidson, the engineer who was implementing XMPP. Mike happens to have the exact same name as my best friend, which has led to me yelling at him accidentally before, which was embarrassing. I was 18 when I met Mike. He’s served as an advisor, mentor, advocate, and source of wisdom since.
- Number nine is Sara Golemon. Sara was a commiter for PHP, and is now working as a PHP Engineer for Facebook. When I was 19, I met her while hacking on Spaz. Matthew Turland comes in at number nine, too, because I met him through Spaz as well. He works for Synacor and has presented at php|tek and for Zend, and has been a wonderful friend and mentor for the last few months. I’ve even sung karaoke with him.
- Number ten is Christian Bogeberg. When I met him, at 19, Christian was a recruiter for Google. He helped me plot a path towards getting hired at my favourite company, a path I’m still trying to follow. Since then, Christian has moved on to working at Twitter, but he still hasn’t stopped doing things like looking at my resume and giving me professional advice.
- Number eleven is Kevin Purdy, a Lifehacker editor and the nice guy who covered my application last summer. Since then, he and I have worked together quite a bit. He has driven work my way, and (more importantly) talked tech with me. I’m pretty proud to say I know him. I met him when I was 20.
- Number twelve is Maneesh Arora. I met him a few months after Kevin (so, when I was 20). He actually offered me a tidy sum to write software for him on a regular basis, which I had to turn down for my studies. He’s a product manager at Zynga, the company behind Farmville.
- Number thirteen is Moishe Lettvin. I met him when I was 20. He’s an engineer at Google who Mike Davidson introduced me to. He wrote the Channel API, and allowed me early access as a tester. He has been humouring me for a few months now, as I try to help debug some edge-case issues.
I’m going to leave off there. There are other people I could/should mention, because I feel like I’m slighting them by not, but it would simply make this post way too long. And there’s something to be said about meeting so many awesome people you can’t fit them all in a blog post.
My question is, how can I have seen so many examples of how to be ridiculously awesome, and still be so decidedly not-awesome?
– Mr. Charming