While searching for an old Gist on GitHub today, I came across this previously unpublished story that I had written in 2019, figured it was time to share it
So one day, in walks a kid with a mohawk for a job interview (or the story of how I met, my friend, Victor)
This is the story of how I met Victor, and how we became a team. And just as with any story: this is the way I remember bits and pieces, Victor might remember more details or that things happened differently (his feedback is highlighted below).
In 2011, I was searching for a new team member to focus on photos and inventory listings at ██████ ██████████. I had tried a few guys, and while some had good skillsets - they simple lacked drive. One day Mike, our ███████ ███████, mentioned that his brother-in-law did “that kind of stuff” and was looking for a more stable job than freelance work, and offered to connect us for an interview.
Honestly, I don’t even remember communicating with Victor prior to him showing up… but when he showed up: he showed up with a mohawk.
Twenty-three year old Cuban kid, enthusiastic drummer, and had a Computer Science degree from some place obsessed with Hurricanes. Uh-huh. What resonated with me, though, was his drive (courtesy of the challenges that had come before him in life). We hired him, and within a few days he moved up to West Palm Beach (that really impressed me).
Things didn’t start out great though, and that was 100% on me. I’m not an easy guy to be around, and even less easy to work with. I have expectations (others refer to them as high or impossible), and am a pretty emotionless kinda-guy (Victor, on the other hand, was built on emotion). In hindsight, it’s easy to say that a lot of tension came from the fact that while I stressed details, I failed to communicate why the details were important… I failed to teach. I had sucess in leading products, but that didn’t mean I was good at leading a team.
Note: I’ve had the pleasure of working on projects with some outstanding people over the years. Unfortunately, from time to time, individuals have come on board who simply don’t work out. These individuals share one thing in common: they lack drive. I believe that skills can be easily taught, however drive cannot.
With Victor, two events stand out around this time in my memory, and both were discussions with our co-worker, Jess. In the first one, at a Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Jess had asked me how Victor was working out and I expressed some concerns. Jess turned some magical old-timer wisdom into words that allowed me to reflect on how I could do a better job at working with Victor instead of asking Victor to do a better job of working with me (and this was another of those things I didn’t realize until I reflected back on it). A few months later at the Miami Boat Show, Jess asked me again how Victor was doing…
me: “he’s doing great, I think he’s really changed”
Jess: “I don’t think he’s changed, I think you have”
And overnight, it seemed that we really became a team. We’d joke about knocking down a load-bearing wall in between our offices just to work more efficiently. We started collaborating on projects, and weren’t afraid to give honest feedback.
And things were great for a bit.
One morning, though, Victor walked into my office and asked if I had a minute. He had gotten an offer as a software developer. When he expounded the details of the offer, my response was that I’d take it too if I were in his shoes. And like that, Victor was gone. I was happy for him on his new journey.
Note: before I even send this over to Victor, I know he’s going to comment on the pathetic response he got when he gave his notice. I’ll let him put these in his own words.
We kept in touch constantly though, and Victor would text me pictures of him and the new team playing foosball during the breaks they’d have. But back at the office, especially with how Victor’s departure had gone down, I was beginning to lose motivation.
In a few months time, the company was opening a new location which needed a manager. I put in my recommendation for Victor, which the team thought was a solid idea - but not certain if they could convince him to rejoin. Ultimately, though, they did - and Victor rejoined… right in time for me to give my own notice.
And then things started to get exciting…
In the years that passed and while I was focusing on enhancing skills (3D Printing and CNC Machining, Product Design, Software Development, …) required to elevate the products my new business was creating, Victor was investing every free moment into his own skillset with advancing his knowledge on Software, Photos and Video.
When I was doing product photo shoots half a state away, Victor was on the other end of a FaceTime call teaching me how-to use a camera.
And with revenue growing, Victor contributed more to projects - we weren’t far off from getting him onboard full-time (and I believe we both saw the potential of where it could have gone).
And then one Monday morning, I received a call from a South Carolina phone number. Turns out that a boat company wanted to hear my thoughts on Victor, and to also know if I’d be interested in their new marketing manager role. My response? “Victor is one of the greatest people I’ve ever worked with. But yes, I am also interested”. Wanting the best for the both of us, I pitched that the company could hire both of us and have the best team in the industry… and for a moment it looked like a possibility.
Ultimately though, Victor secured the position and relocated to SC with his family.
My goal, for the past couple of years had been to bring Victor onboard full-time. With that no longer being a reality, I couldn’t see a way to break out of the increased-revenue-but-decreased-profitability-and-growing-workload monster I had created. Each piece of hardware I sold was only compounding the problem.
Too many customers were simply electing not to pay their monthly dues for services I had provided. And each new customer meant more services needed to be shelled out. An industry struggling to understand the SaaS model was not ready for a Content-as-a-Service model (even though everyone had been doing so with cable-television providers for decades).
I was burnt out, and I ultimately ended up winding down the company . I took on a position in the automotive industry which, funny enough, Victor had stumbled upon and shared with me.
Even though we are in separate states, with separate companies - we seem to be more connected than ever.
I’ve learned so much from working with that mohawk-haired guy who walked through those doors years ago - but nothing greater than teamwork.
It’s a rare professional relationship, the kind that takes a lifetime to forge. When you can complete each other’s sentences, you can move planets working together.
During the day Victor is elevating the boat manufacturer’s marketing efforts to new levels, and after work he’s burning the midnight oil on Coder’s Tape - a project I hope to contribute to soon.
We joke about having an office together one day, who knows what the future brings. But I do hope that is the case.