24th November 2013
As I’ve got older, I’ve been thinking of what I have achieved and what I have given back to the companies and individuals I have worked with whether they are clients or colleagues. It has made me think that before I jack it all in and retire to Cornwall, I’d like to think I’ve helped someone along the way, maybe inspired them to do better or helped them with something that made a difference to them.
It’s not an ego thing, I would just hope that I’d done some good along the way because I’ve benefited from people helping me, help that has probably shaped my career and the direction I’m going in.
Recently I’ve been thinking about such people. Who were the people who I can say have had an impact on me and guided me to where I am today. I’ve worked with many interesting individuals, both as a full timer and a freelancer, too many to dedicate a whole blog post to. I’ve worked with good and bad people but I’ve taken many things from all of them. The good to use again, the bad to hopefully never emulate. But some stand out as a real inspiration, people I can honestly say have helped make me the designer/developer/person I am today.
When I first started out, I worked with tables and tables alone. I knew that my skills were limited and that I really needed a role that taught me much more. I was working for a chap who bought web templates so I was made up when I managed to get myself a proper job at a place in Chester. I still remember to this day sitting there on the first day overwhelmed at how much more professional this place was, thinking I’d made it but I better get learning fast.
It was here I met Jim.
He was a senior web designer (sorry Jim, I can’t remember your actual title). Anyway, it was Jim who introduced me to the world of divs and layout.
He taught me like Mr Miyagi with the wax on wax off method. Editing HTML files for hours on end until suddenly it became second nature. I finally understood what the hell a float was which was a great day I can tell you. It was like a lightbulb had come on and the hardest thing I found with web builds became that much easier. The job suddenly got exciting.
I kept learning from Jim. Not just divs and CSS. I explored design, typography and it was a joy to do so. I learnt so much in my time there and I’m truly grateful to him.
Fast forward a couple of years and I was to meet the next person who had a big influence.
I was lucky enough to get to work with him on a few projects. I can honestly say it was the most nerve wrecking thing sitting there having him look over my first bit of code. I needn’t have worried. There may have been numerous errors with what I’d done but there was no critical attack, no coffee mug thrown across the floor, just positive, constructive feedback which reassured me.
It was over the next few months that I would see a real teacher in action. I saw some clever stuff and learnt some great new skills always delivered in a manner that ensured it went in. It gave me courage to learn and not to be intimidated by the unknown.
The thing that stands out though whilst working with Andy and seeing him work was his enthusiasm. It’s easy to get caught up in it. Designing should be fun and working on projects certainly were, even when he put the gorilla mask on.
I now work for an agency just outside Manchester.
It was where I met Colin.
First thing I noticed about Colin was his height. He’s massive. What I next learnt was his manner. He’s so calm. Next I learnt he knows everything there is to know about the web. His knowledge of what we do daily is astounding.
Colin’s teaching style was two way. He would give you the option to do it yourself or not. He would give you time to think about what you needed to do and explain if you didn’t get it.
What Colin taught me and the other devs hopefully won’t get lost. He taught us the right way and it is up to us to enforce that. Cheers Colin.
These are the people I would say have really shaped my career/life. I owe them an awful lot. They don’t really get how much they helped me out. I’ve remained good friends with all three and I know if I need to, I can ask them anything.
As for me now, I know I have plenty of advice to offer but I guess it depends if people want to listen. I’d like to think I can pass on some of the things I learnt from the guys above.
If you happen to be someone who knows someone like the three guys above, listen to them, talk to them, learn from them. There are so many talented people out there, some very experienced people out there and many who just know how to teach. You might think you already know all there is to know but experience is invaluable.
Go inspire / Be inspired.