I love discovering new things. As a kid, I taught myself to program text-based adventure games on a TI-99/4A in BASIC. They were simple clones of games I enjoyed, such as “Colossal Cave Adventure” or “Zork.” Those countless hours of writing, debugging, and (don’t forget!) playing, taught me the foundations of programming.
The lessons I learned back then still inform the software development I do today. But it was the addictive and infinite loop of discovery that kept me coming back for more.
Around the same time I started programming, I started piano lessons. My oldest sister changed everything when she brought home a Guns N’ Roses tape — I listened to it non-stop. The sounds were not ones I could reproduce on a piano, but I was determined to figure out how.
I quickly found that the joy of creating my own music only widened when recording others. It was like being in 20 bands at once. I interned at one of Nashville’s most notable studios — Masterfonics — and slowly built out my career as an audio engineer. I worked with many musicians including Robert Plant, Emmy Lou Harris, Loretta Lynn, and Alison Krauss.
In the process, I discovered a link between coding and music: improvisation. Trying, failing, but letting that failure lead you to the next notes.
All the while I kept programming. Mostly little apps, the occasional website for a local company. Once my wife and I had a baby on the way, I decided that studio life was not for me anymore. I was approached by Nashville-based NC2 Media to join a small team tasked with evaluating the BBC’s acquisition of Lonely Planet. I became lead developer and things settled down.
Now a father of two, I couldn’t remember why we were still in Nashville. My wife and I talked about moving back to our hometown in Western New York. The only problem? The area isn’t exactly a technology hotbed.
I found that many companies were hiring remote developers. So we moved and I joined the distributed team at AlphaSights as lead software engineer. The microservices movement was new, but I applied what I knew and learned what I didn’t to create a fault-tolerant, performant, and easily-maintained network of applications.
However, I knew we could achieve more with a new approach to planning. I began searching for a product management solution that mirrored how I thought about product and engineering.
I wanted to find a tool that would allow product managers and engineers to work harmoniously and to develop products from a holistic point of view — tying everyday work to strategy and back again to build features that matter.
I read an article about Aha! and signed up for a free trial. The Aha! approach resonated with me on every level. The ability to enter in a little bit of data, quickly generate beautiful visualizations, and share those with the team felt like a newly-discovered superpower.
My first conversation with Aha! co-founder Dr. Chris Waters reinforced that feeling. The autonomous yet collaborative working environment he described matched what I love best about high-performing engineering teams — a collective of talented players harmonizing in an expression of elegant code.
I was hooked. The opportunity to actually work on what had become my new favorite piece of software was one that I could not let slip by — I jumped at the opportunity to join Aha!
Since joining the engineering team I’ve built features that matter since day one. (The new Hierarchy report being my favorite so far.) The team is tight-knit and incredibly skilled — everybody makes massive contributions every week.
That is why I joined Aha! — and why you should too.