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Old Friends, New Friends

Posted in Insights — August 26, 2014

As “that guy” folks always call to fix their computer or solve generally any digital problem that lies beyond the “customer service” competency firewall, I am quite comfortable filling the role as a “trusted friend” in the digital age. . I’m pretty comfortable in my digital skin.

So for me, the FINE slogan, “The digital world can be scary, bring friends” couldn’t ring more true. Thirty years ago, as a teenager tip-toeing in the direction of human-centric software and programming, I split off and pursued a career flying jets in the Air Force. Over the years that followed, I watched from the industry sidelines (or from the sky) as the binary-enabled world I pictured became reality. But, like any good bench-warmer, I kept up with the state of the game and stayed as limber as I could in anticipation that one day I’d be called in.

I left the service three years ago, hung up my g-suit for a pin-stripe suit, and started calling myself a Software Engineer and a Business Systems Analyst.  I demonstrated that I possessed the ability to work on a team and translate big ideas into real, working systems for the Air Force and Navy.  But when process trumps product, like it tends to in DoD contracting, my mind and eyes wander.

Then a friend called. Turns out that all my previous experience was actually training to positively contribute in a place where all things digital are viewed as storytelling mechanisms, and respected as the feats of engineering that they represent. It may be cliche to speak this way in the post-Jobs era, but my friend has always been a storyteller guided by a deep understanding of Eastern philosophy.

In contrast to the Jobs cliche, however, he is nice.  Everyone here is nice.  Stress here only exists in the form of pushing yourself over the high bar of production quality 20 years in the making.  I didn’t even know my company mentors until a couple months ago and now they, too, feel like long-time friends and spirit guides.

My friend told me when I started to “Be human, be honest, be awesome.” You may recognize it from our new site. Now,  I’m in a full sprint – teeth gnashing and sword-raised ready to crush all sucky technology and vanquish its draconian hold on old-school society.  But, like a seasoned martial artist learning a new form, I’ll practice my kata and go through the ranks at a controlled, but accelerated pace. Nobody gets a free pass.

I’ve learned so far that FINE is not only your friend, but the whole company actually knows what that word means, and will be enough of a friend to always let you know when your fly is open in church.

I’m looking forward to hanging out with my old friends, and to the new friendships I’ll build in the next 20 years. The digital world can be scary…but a nightlight in the form of a glowing screen displaying a beautiful FINE site will keep you from stubbing your toe when it’s dark.

- written and contributed by Mike Bibeau

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