It is the day we celebrate that in 2012, Brad Feld tweeted about a portfolio site I’d built as we were trying to move our family from Dallas, Texas to Boulder, Colorado and our life hasn’t been the same since.
In 2012, I was working for myself doing freelance web development in the Dallas area. We had a great community of friends and both sets of parents lived just a few hours away, but my wife and I often dreamed about living closer to the mountains in Colorado.
We’d gone through a number of fruitless cycles applying for positions with companies in Boulder and Denver over the previous few years. Personalized cover letters, hours upon hours invested in proposed redesigns … anything to try to make my application stand apart from the crowd.
Nothing ever panned out. None of that work seemed to be getting us anywhere nearer to our dream.
And then, in a moment of inspiration I thought, “You know what? Forget this resume nonsense. I should build a portfolio site about how hot it is in Texas, how much we love Colorado, and oh yeah, here are some websites I’ve built. Let’s talk.”
I had tons of client work to keep on schedule, so I spent some nights and Memorial Day weekend bringing the idea to life. It took some time to build, but what I remember is how easy it was to pull together. I knew exactly what it should say. I knew exactly who I was talking to.
I’ve retired the site now, but it was eye-catching and on-trend for the time. It made use of some interesting parallax effects, there was a clever little thermometer that got cooler as you scrolled down (in the direction of us living in Colorado) and get warmer as you scrolled up (our status quo of baking in Texas).
After a week or two of tweaks, it wasn’t perfect, but I knew it was ready to launch.
I want to say that again: It wasn’t perfect. But it was ready to launch.
I emailed it around to a number of companies that I would have been thrilled to work for, and, in a colossal moonshot, I sent an email to Brad Feld and went on with my life.
And a few days later, something happened.
The Tweet That Changed Everything
We had a newborn at the time and for the first time since his birth, I was taking the middle of the night feedings to let Laura sleep through the night.
At around 4am, I opened up my iPad and saw that my notification pill on my mail app was at a hundred and something. This could only mean that something, somewhere, was wrong. I must have been hacked. Or a client was furious. Something.
Instead, at the very beginning of those emails was a reply from Brad, “Tweeted – I’ll also send out to the CEO list I manage.”
The other emails were outright job offers from startups not only in Boulder and Denver, but Boston, San Francisco, Toronto, and other hubs. Clearly, it had worked. One way or another we would be moving to Colorado.
“Something has happened.”
My heart was racing, and as much as I wanted to sprint up the stairs and tell Laura, the whole point was to let her sleep through the night!
And so, I went through the emails and started looking into the companies who’d already reached out. I made some additional tweaks to the site now that I knew people would actually be seeing it. Finally, at 7 in the morning, I went upstairs and lightly stirred Laura awake.
“Sweetheart. Something has happened.”
In the weeks that followed, we found ourselves in the ridiculous position of interviewing companies who wanted me to join them rather than the other way around.
Celebrating Something Has Happened Day
And so, every June 8th, our family of five sits around a table and we tell our kids the story of everything that led up to, “Something has happened.”
Not just the fun, exciting, “OMG this is crazy!” element. That part only lasted for a couple of weeks.
The important part of the story that we’re sure to highlight for the kids are the years of sacrifice, failure, and running into brick walls time and time again that came first.
And I have to admit that this year, I was talking to myself a little bit as I was trying to share that lesson from the story with my kids! 😂
Progress on my own SaaS product is absolutely glacial. I’m working on a few ideas for an online course for you all, but that’s been slow to develop as well. I want to see the demand pouring in! I want to see the results now!
I’m sure that sounds familiar. But we know that good things take time.
The sacrifices, the long hours, the hard work, and suffering through your failures is worth it as long as that work continues to align with your long-term goals. If it’s aligned, then you’re on the right path. You will look back one day and see that it was all necessary to get you where you want to go and to be where you want to be.
Stay focused. Work hard. And one day, something will happen.