Who are my heroes?

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I’m spending my week in Atlanta at DriveWorks World 2017.  DriveWorks is an amazing, infinite customization configuration that sits on top of SolidWorks 3D software.  Before you get turned off by this blog because it’s about the computer, database and engineering technological insights that might be boring to you, please give it a try. The DriveWorks notation is just to frame the subject.  This is a story about vision and growth.

This is my third DWW event.  Two years ago it was in Chicago and last year it was in Manchester UK.  I continue to be amazed by what the founders, Maria Sarkar and Glen Smith, have accomplished.  Paul Gimbel is a development partner who has shepherded me through the development of the software that builds and manages 2Fold®.   In preparation for this meeting, they asked everyone to send a profile of what we were up to.  These profiles and personal photos are shared on lobby kiosks and flash on screens between sessions.

My profile included the proclamation that Glen Smith (co-founder) and Paul Gimbel (my DriveWorks guru) were heroes of mine.  When I arrived at the training center I met up with Maria, the co-founder who greeted me with, “so Glen and Paul are your heroes, what about ME?”  I was devastated that in honoring the technical guys I had unintentionally segregated Maria.

I am in awe of the technical prowess of generating code and those extraordinary individuals who can focus like laser beams for hour after hour until everything works.  I wish I was one of them, but I’m not anymore, assuming I ever was.  I have gone from being an engineer to being a generalist who is trying to build a business.  Product engineering, IT systems, manufacturing systems, subcontractors, accounting, sales, and marketing fill my day with not enough time to work on any one of them.  I’m the guy who spins the plates.

Similarly, Maria is the partner who takes the brilliant code and the product that envelops it and turns it into a company with a network to make it useful to customers like me. I overlooked her role and the importance it represents.  We all get excited about the play of the quarterback and running backs who do the flashy things and forget the offensive linemen who get their fingers stepped on every day, endlessly getting physically punished with no glory.

Maria is much like I am most days and a better version of myself didn’t excite me so much.  I set up my heroes to be those with attributes I didn’t have.  We spend so much time pursuing what we aren’t and forget to be the best version of what we are, and the role we best serve.

Great products without great networks of sales and service representatives to take it to the market don’t get very far.  I already knew about the features of the product and had confidence that this week was going to teach me how to use them better.  Excitement was created by knowing that on Thursday new features were going to be introduced that were going to wow me.  But this afternoon, Maria took me aside and showed me the new plan to roll out an educational program to bring DriveWorks training to colleges and universities.  Training is an idea I had championed last year, and she was eager to give me a peek into the future.  Maria, today YOU are my hero.

2Fold® is a manufacturer that makes custom folding doors at lightning speed by using sophisticated software.  Our future growth depends on finding qualified, trained technicians.  They are not born . . . they are developed.

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