Alex King has a Thanksgiving post up at his site, in which he thanks some people who have helped him develop professionally. I think it’s a great idea, and would like to do the same.
I’ll start, of course, with Alex King himself. Alex has been a friend and mentor for years, and has never, ever been afraid to tell me when he thinks I’m wrong. As a business owner, he’s generous with his experience. As a web developer, he sees the world much differently than I do, offering a perspective I don’t often find elsewhere. I once started a rumor that he killed a bear with his teeth, which is why I occasionally refer to him as “The Kodiak Killer”. He also introduced me to…
Brent Simmons — I was in San Jose for business one evening when I get an email from Alex. It was to both Brent and I, suggesting that since we both happened to be in town, we should meet up. We did, and as it happens Brent was there for an iPhone developer conference. He introduced me to a ton of great people and made me feel included. That sense of fun and community is a large part of why I got into this business. There are many people in this line of work who owe Brent a great deal of thanks, and I’m happy to count myself as one of them. He’s the Godfather, and just about the coolest guy I know.
Joe Hildebrand — Joe was the CTO at Jabber, my first real software company. My job was as a sales engineer, which meant that we traveled a lot together and spent a good deal of time dealing with the same customers. In addition to being the first Cocoa developer I’ve ever met, he’s also an outstanding cook and way better at racquetball than I’ll ever be. Joe gave me the mental framework to be a manager and to think of the world beyond my cubicle.
Jay Graves — Jay is my next-door neighbor and one of my favorite people ever. When I had the stupid joke of an idea to start a social network for fashion, Jay was just amused enough to join me and create Coathangr. After we fumbled our way through making an iPhone app, we wound up doing a couple of other unrelated apps. I remember suggesting on multiple occasions that we should leave our jobs and make iPhone apps full-time. The Spock to my Kirk, Jay would always offer logical reasons why it wasn’t a good time, or challenge me to prove that the idea would succeed. Then one day I brought it up again and he just looked at me and said “I agree”. A few weeks later our company was acquired by Double Encore.
Brad Ellis — When I had no idea what the hell I was doing but started doing it anyway, Brad stepped in and taught me how to design. A few years ago at WWDC, Brad and his team at Rogue Sheep won the Apple Design Award for their app Postage. That night, Brent Simmons introduced me to the team at a bar, and this crazy kid with glasses sits down next to me, sticks his hand out, and excitedly announces, “hi! I’m Brad!” We were instant friends. Aside from being generally lovable and possibly the most energetic person I know, he’s a stellar designer who still takes the time to teach me new things whenever I get to see him.
Paul Kent — I first met Paul in Hong Kong when I went out to speak at a Macworld satellite event, a trip and an experience I never would have thought possible a few years ago. After the post-conference dinner, our group took a ferry from the restaurant across the water to our hotel. Along the way, Paul offered me meaningful, constructive criticism about my talk without sounding condescending or anything less than encouraging. His advice has shaped how I approach public speaking, which has become one of my favorite things to do.
Dan Burcaw — That first night I was out with Brent and his friends from the developer conference, I met Dan Burcaw, founder of an app development shop called Double Encore. I talked to him about a social network I was working on, and mentioned that we were looking to do an iPhone app. “Do it yourselves,” he told me. “Buy a book and figure it out.” I reminded him of that advice almost exactly one year later when he acquired my company. Still one of the best decisions I’ve ever made.
I owe a lot of people my gratitude, and this list could never hope to be exhaustive. To everyone who has supported or encouraged me, thank you.