It was a cold rainy afternoon in Don Torcuato, the town I spent my teenage years.
My parents thought it was a good idea for me to play soccer.
So there I was that afternoon running around the field during practice.
Coach was an old Polish man, I was 13, he must be 120.
Riding his bike alongside us shouting….
-“Run! Run! Run!”, With a deep accent.
While running, my head was in every other thing it could be except soccer.
First I thought, how come this old man rides that bike so slow. He was almost stopped but he didn’t fall.
Then, every time we passed along the side of the tennis courts, I watch the people play a few balls.
Boy I was distracted.
I remember stories my parents tell about my games.
-” You were standing on the side of the field and never touched the ball.”
I still remember why.
My teammates didn’t want to pass the ball because I would certainly screw up and lose it.
Sports were not my thing, I give it to my parents.
They got me into everything that was around.
Soccer, Rugby, Judo, Basketball, Horseback riding but I wasn’t a sports buddy.
I remember though, my dad’s business partner Pedro had a Radio Shack TRS-80, one of the first successful portable laptops. He was a very charismatic salesman that bought the computer because it was one of the latest toys, but he never knew how to use it.
While sitting waiting for my dad, he said:
-“Do you want to play with the computer?”
-“Of course”, I said and started touching all buttons. The computer didn’t have games but you could program in Basic language.
When Pedro saw I was able to get the computer running and making programs on it he asked me if I would do a cash flow program for him.
-“Of course”, I said again.
We sat down at his desk, and he showed me a paper with rows and columns he would fill every week to project the cash getting in and out of the company. He was very meticulous explaining me all the additions, subtractions and calculations he did by hand.
That day I left home with my dad around 5pm, got home and started working on my assignment right away. I spent days after school and 2 entire weekends programming that little machine.
When ready, I ask my Dad if I could go with him after school to show my creation to Pedro.
We got there, and I started.
-“You first turn it on her, then you press F4 and move around the columns with the arrows, once you fill all the data just press F5 and all calculations are done for you.”
Imagine his face, a 13-year-old boy created a program he would use and save around 3-4 hours a week in tedious calculations.
It didn’t take long after he asked if I would do a payroll system, accounts receivable and other useful programs. He even paid me for that.
It was a win/win/win. My parents won because I was engaged with something of my interest, Pedro won because he would have extra time to do more sales, and I was ecstatic with the leading technology.
I learned a few lessons with this. First, not all off us are exercise fans. Second, I learned the value of a mentor. Even when Pedro benefited from my programs he was patient to explain and eager to teach me more about the business.
Today I still have passion for programming. It is not computer code. It is business code. I analyze business processes, code them and then automate them to make experiences consistent to my company’s clients.