Last week J.B. Holston hosted the Obama for America Engineering Dream Team in Denver, and it was one of the more inspiring experiences I have had in some time. Who ARE these guys? Well, the Atlantic did a piece back in November, “When the Nerds Go Marching In,” that answers the question. Sort of.
The guys who came to Colorado from Chicago – Harper Reed, Dylan Richard, Jason Kunesh and Chris Ganson – were like troops returning from Afganistan to a hero’s welcome. Which is fitting. After all, these guys are war heroes, albeit in a war of a very different kind. They’re the guys who put in 14 hour days 6-7 days a week in a battle to reelect a President. And they won.
They were smart, focused and determined. But they weren’t cocky. Far far from it. Given several opportunities to glory in their success (vs. the misfortunes of their counterparts working for Romney), they flat out refused to be critical. “Technology is hard.” That’s what they said. They knew they could have had things happen to the Obama effort that they didn’t expect and couldn’t control. As Harper says in the Atlantic article:
“I know we had the best technology team I’ve ever worked with, but we didn’t know if it would work. I was incredibly confident it would work. I was betting a lot on it. We had time. We had resources. We had done what we thought would work, and it still could have broken. Something could have happened.”
That generosity of spirit was evident throughout the conversations I witnessed – during their lunchtime panel hosted at Newsgator, during the dinner at Cholon Bistro and afterward when we were just hanging out together at The Kitchen.
And here’s the real thing: they cared about making a difference, about making the world a better place. And because they really really do want to make they world a better place, they were clear that they weren’t willing to sacrifice what is most important – integrity and honor – to ensure a victory that could only have been hollow if it had to be achieved by compromising their values. Call me crazy, but I like that. No, I love that. Maybe I feel that way because I identify with a certain midwestern purity of heart that I thought I saw in them. Or maybe I just like connecting with folks that I think are the real deal, folks who really are making a difference in the world and who choose to use the talent, experience and drive they have to “be the difference.”
Any way, you can learn a bit more about the team’s visit here: http://www.disruptcolorado.com/2-uncategorised/27-ofaco
And you should check out J.B.’s blog post, “Stuff – an extensive and heartfelt “thank you” to all the people who helped make the visit so compelling – and there were many people involved to be sure. I’m just grateful I got the chance to connect for a few moments. A huge thank you to the dream team, J.B Holston and everyone else who made this happen.
I’m hoping we can get them back again soon. Maybe in the fall for Denver Startup Week or 10.10.10.