Prior to entering software development, I worked in retail sales for fifteen years. My “clients” were customers. My goal was to sell them something, or lots of different things. I answered questions, encouraged upsales, and other standard practices in order to get my products out the door. It was very impersonal at times. After a while, I came to see customers more as a source of revenue than anything else. At the end of the day I felt accomplished for generating more sales today versus yesterday.
At Radial, things are very different. It was interesting to see my perspective change from then to now.
I started working in software at Radial a year and a half ago. It offered a whole host of new challenges and experiences. Even today it still feels a bit like drinking water from a firehose. Initially I tried to keep to myself and learn through observation. I watched as my colleagues interacted with clients and worked through problems with them. It really didn’t feel much different from how I was doing things when I was in sales. After working here for a few months, it was my turn to lead a client project.
I was paired with another developer who had years of experience running projects and was guided through all the processes that it entails. After a few weeks, when I started to feel comfortable with everything, they turned me loose. From that point on I was running projects on my own, with help from the team any time I needed it.
I’m really not sure why I started thinking about it, but at some point I started to look back at the ways in which my perspectives had changed since I started at Radial, and I realized that clients/customers weren’t the same in my mind compared to when I started. I realized something very important – in my mind, they weren’t clients so much as colleagues. When I was given a task to work on for them it was like helping out a friend. When talking with clients it wasn’t about trying to make a sale, but sharing business ideas with a friend, and when they succeeded I celebrated with them!
I remember being so excited to hear about sales increases that our customers made, and feeling such pride that the team was able to deliver a feature in less time than we thought we would need. It was a partnership where our goals were perfectly aligned to make the project successful in every conceivable way.
I guess that is really the thing I like best about Radial: It’s always about the people. The people who work here aren’t “employees,” they are friends. The clients who we work with aren’t “customers,” they are partners. Their success is our success. If I had to put my finger on one thing that I am most proud of in this last year, it’s that how I view clients has changed.