In 1999, when I started my journey through the interwebs, I had no real idea where it would take me. I barely knew what was possible. I only knew that my brain loved puzzle-type thinking, detective work, research and figuring things out. And I suspected code would access the parts of my mind that love a work out—and so I pursued it. Vehemently. For the first 12 months, I did tutorials for 15 hours a day and got any friend that might possibly need a website to let me create theirs. (And for the very first customers, may I apologize for the frame and table-based layouts.)
And as I learned, I had questions—lots of them—and I inflicted every one of them on the unsuspecting, and gracious souls on a couple of web design lists. (The only stupid question is the one you don’t ask!) As my skills grew, I began answering the questions of people who knew less than I and continued to pick the brains of those who knew more. Within a couple of years, I had accidentally created a business via business owners who had planned to build their own web site only to find it wasn’t as easy as they expected. Due to the number of questions I answered on the list, they wrote me offlist for a quote to, “Please, just do it for me”.
It didn’t take me long to figure out that there’s a whole lot to this web design business. And some portions I enjoyed more than the others. In looking at where I thought the puck was going, I ventured into the world of CSS—that marriage of code and design—and I loved it. I gleaned great enjoyment from changing a designer’s beautiful comp into light-weight, web-ready markup (I’m too much of a tweak-a-holic to design). And so I moved into specialization in the portion of the industry we now call front-end development.
My desire to give back led me to accept requests to write articles and books (even though I really dislike writing). Writing led to speaking at industry events. Speaking led to doing training in corporations. Filing zillions of bugs to make Dreamweaver move into the realm of Web Standards led to my work with the Web Standards Project (WaSP) as well as working as a contractor for Adobe to create the CSS Layouts contained in Dreamweaver. And writing a book teaching both CSS and Dreamweaver while using those layouts as a base for each project led to discovering the other half of my brain—my co-author Greg Rewis. Now my husband, soul mate, and co-captain on Geeks4Sail. Every choice I’ve made to give—even when there wasn’t a guaranteed return—has come back from the universe in amazing ways I hadn’t envisioned. It’s been a great ride.
And even though I’ve loved every minute of sharing, learning and teaching others, and of working with awesome agencies, companies and start-ups—I still leave them with the code and walk away to start the next contract. I rarely get to see a product through to fruition or have any further affect on its development. I can’t continually help the code evolve as the web changes. I just hand it off and move to the “next thing”.
But all that’s gonna change…
I was recently approached by a start-up (oddly enough, right here in the Phoenix area). We initially discussed their need for a top notch front-end developer to build their web app—probably a six month contract. We discussed what they were building for about an hour—and I got this feeling in my gut. You know the one that hits you in the pit of your stomach and says, “I really, really feel like this is a thing“? That one. But having been taught by my parents never to trust my gut—always use your head—I did the obedient thing and went to the web for some Google research. As you do… That research made the feeling in my gut even stronger. And a series of meetings with the CEO, CTO and team over the past couple weeks has evolved into my decision to make a full-time commitment—forsaking all others. This is a big step for me after 12 years of independence. I should feel a twinge of sorrow. But I don’t! I’m as excited as I’ve been about anything in years.
I am now officially the VP of Interface Architecture for Contatta (Italian for “be in contact with”), helping to create a new era in Contact Management. And while a product related to CRM may not sound like a sexy start up to you, Pat Sullivan, the co-creator of ACT!, and founder of SalesLogix is a founder of this company. Along with Sunil Padiyar who was a founding member of SalesLogix as well. When the man that helped create an industry 25 years ago says he thinks it could be in a better place—and in fact has ideas about changing a currently stagnant industry—I listened. And in listening, I was impressed enough to get on board.
Not only am I excited about the product, I’m super excited about the team they’ve already assembled. I’m going to have the opportunity to work with some amazingly top-notch devs and we’ve already been exchanging ideas. I’m literally chomping at the bit to get started!
Lest any clients (or prospective clients) are concerned, I’ve got great back-up with good friends and co-contractors like Emily Lewis (of “Microformats Made Simple” and “HTML5 Cookbook” fame), Leslie Flinger (front-end developer and former Director of Marketing at EllisLab) and others. You’ll be in great hands!
A recommendation on Contatta’s Facebook wall says – “With Pat behind it … here’s hoping for a real game changer for the industry!” I agree with that and I’ll take it a step further and say, “With the team behind Pat, we’re gonna work to make awesomeness—and maybe a ding in the Universe.”
EDIT 3/7: Some have emailed to ask whether I’ll still be speaking. Yes, on a more limited basis—but not once a month as I have been. Feel free to send requests.