I went to a fun job interview today. To understand why, you have to understand that unlike Silly Valley or Vain Vancouver, I live in one of the hearts of Eisenhower’s military industrial complex. Some interviewers and interviewees wear clothes that at their most liberal would be conservative-gotta-meet-a-client Monday in Silly Valley. Targeted selection questions modeled, scored and integrated into a politically-correct and technically empty script determine rat fir color to confirm that one is the right kind of rat fit to be on a team of rats who have spent more time obtaining degrees than time spent with their spouses or children.
Today, I was interviewed by a real web company. woooh... It reminds me of the first West Coast conference I went to after years of East Coast conferences. The differences are profound.
This was not a startup. These middle school buddies started in a garage ten years ago a few doors down from where my much older middle school buddies used to hang in their bedrooms hooking Christmas tree lights to a stereo and listening to the Allman Brothers while swapping the wisdom of the Furry Freak Brothers. These guys hooked up MACs, learned to code, and built web pages. They didn't go for venture capital. They budgeted, invested and published. They found a niche, survived the dot.bomb, stuck to their business plan, implemented LAMP not because it was cool but because it was everywhere they needed to be, and hired an accountant who doubles as an office admin.
They offer you a Diet Coke before they get around to brewing coffee, have machines sitting next to the office door and office furniture stacked against the wall because they need the space to spread out and work, and otherwise, remind me of garage bands that play their axes, sharpen their chops, record their originals and make it happen while having a helluva good time together. They build multi-platform web pages and enable their customers to buy office equipment cheaper and faster. In other words, without a deep sales teams, planning committees who write studies, scads of ads, moribund meetings and polyphonic professional e-mails, they provide a service and make a profit.
SWUUUUHHH! Take a deeeeeep breath....
It was humbling. I'm not web-ignorant and I certainly have been on the pioneering end of some stuff, but I've never had the moxie these kids have, and that is why they have a successful company interviewing me instead of the other way around. They are completely the opposite of the dour sour greedy little buggers I'd come to know in other circumstances. The guys who interviewed me today were ALMOST apologetic that they were still building their own tools, didn't have ASP.Net, didn't need it and had no intention of buying Ferraris with their first millions if they could buy more gear for their business. They laughed, carried on, swapped stories and all the while asked questions one needs to hear to know this is a serious business but not a religion, a pipe dream or an ego trip.
It was a breath of fresh air.
I may not get the gig but I hope I get to visit with them again. It's good to smell ambition mixed with sweat equity and hard headed practical programming chops instead of meetings drenched in lattes and sarcasm. I've seen a few bands like this web company. They were the ones who made it and kept it and enjoyed it. They take their angsts to the skateboard park rather than the shrink. They succeed the old fashioned way: turn, burn and return.
Hey DealNews! You rule! Thanks for a great morning and the Diet Coke and the cup of coffee!