12 Jun Pandemic edition post: Three Things I learned from my amazing friend AWK.
Preamble: I met Awk (known as Alan Wagner-Krankel) at USAA when we worked on a project together. He was the IT lead and knew everything, and I was a project manager and knew nothing. Somehow, AWK decided that I am going to be his friend. More than a decade later, we are still friends and co-workers. This is what I learned from him:
Friendship (as all of our relationships) need to be nurtured and cultivated. You have to show up and do the work. Our friendship and collaboration would not be here today if Awk had not been putting a deliberate effort into it. (I was too busy managing projects at that time …) He would stop by to chat, to share a piece of interesting information, help
me with a technical problem. He did what friends do: he showed up and cultivated the friendship. He shared and gave and helped. It took me a long time to return the favor. Luckily, he is not a fussy person: I can just make a strong cup of coffee and he is perfectly happy with that.
“It’s all figureoutable”. Awk is a computer scientist. Meaning he thinks like one and he writes code. So I would call him for technical issues and he would come and say: “I have no idea how to fix that, but we can figure it out.” What??? So he would teach me how to think about an issue and how to tackle it: what are the possible causes? Let’s test them out and eliminate them one by one. What does Google suggest? Lather, rinse, repeat. As a result, today I can totally handle my computer and networking issues now: 90% of all issues are “figureoutable.” I still call Awk, though. I will never be able to write code.
Treat people nicely. Let smart people do their best work. Or another way to say it, don’t be an asshole and try to move the spotlight to yourself. I still have no idea why Awk decided that I would make a good friend. My hypothesis is because I treated him well, trusted him, gave full credit for his expertise and talents. When I started my business, he was the person who made all the technical magic happen. Just for a cup of coffee. Do you have friends like that? (No, you can’t hire him. He does not want to work, he wants to be around “cool people”.)
That’s it, folks. I am signing off. See you tomorrow.