The Importance of Buddies

Last time, I wrote about the Importance of Having A Peer. I talked about my first job as a product developer and how having a peer moved me from being a lonely coder to a man with a plan.

Let's continue the story with what happened next.

Later that year the world shifted under our feet. Our little product company was sold and then sold again. All of a sudden we were being swallowed by a big consulting firm and guys were coming up from Texas to draw lines on spreadsheets and lay people off. I got offered a job in New Jersey at a head office with a wink and a handshake. I felt slimy just contemplating the thought. This wasn’t the job that kept me going day in and day out. 

So I quit.

I joined a startup as their first full-time developer, primarily doing consulting. It wasn’t bad work. They had a compensation package that allowed me to take home a percentage of my billable hours, so I worked like a demon. I made a ton of cash, but came really close to burning out. So I quit that and joined Agility (called Edentity at the time) to help them build a Content Management (CMS) product.

Jon Voigt and I started challenging each other and planning out a platform that we could expand on that would continue to grow.  Years went by. We wrote the code, we made mistakes, we tried different things, we got some wins, we got better.  As buddies, we made sure we shared what we knew, and we called each other on our BS.

And so, one of the first rules of what was to become The Agility Experience: everyone has a buddy. In the beginning, as we hired folks to write code, that buddy was primarily me - and I personally mentored every developer we brought on, and from day one the culture of building trust and sharing stuff (knowledge, wins, mistakes) and having each other's back has been key.

As we've grown, leaders have emerged, and those folks in turn have become mentors, while continuing to have me as someone they can come to for support.  I still get phone calls sometimes from a buddy who just wants to vent a little bit, or provide some tough critical feedback on something. I think it's important to have someone you trust who won't judge you for being human.

The net effect? When everyone has a buddy, and folks trust each other, you build the culture where people look after each other. Buddies that look after each other can become a really great team.