A couple of days ago marked ten years since I met Jess at SXSWEdu.

She wrote this reflection on LinkedIn. My own reflections are below that.

10 years ago today I tapped Jason Becker on the shoulder at a conference between taco breaks and the rest, as they say, is history.

Casual observers think Jason and I agree on everything. This has become a running inside joke because the truth is that we have frequent, vehement disagreements in the same direction. We argue intensely with-and-not-against each other about problems and solutions. If we’re accused of sharing a brain, we must each have complementary halves because we often approach problems from polar opposite perspectives– but we know two heads (and at least one whole brain, on a good day) are better than one. And because we trust that the other has thought deeply about their perspective, we work hard to understand each other’s position. Together, we end up with a more complete understanding of a problem and get aligned on a path forward.

For two people who love numbers, we never keep score; we’re playing an infinite game.

If you love your work, I hope you’re lucky enough to find someone (not Jason, sorry, find your own co-conspirator) who puts up a good fight; this kind of creative tension is how good ideas become great and bad ideas end up in their rightful place in the discard pile.

Jason, thank you for being my best sparring partner and the one who showed me the value of a great editor and co-creator. You’re the five to my three. I’m glad I tricked you into working for Allovue all those years ago.

🥂 Cheers to making things together, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow.

(These are the only two occasions Jason has worn a tie in the past 10 years– April 2014 and December 2023. Yes, Jason’s first official day of work ended up in a cannabis grow facility. We might make a guest appearance in a documentary about it. It’s been a JOURNEY, ok?)

My thoughts:

Spending ten years pursuing the same vision at the same company takes passion, determination, and belief. I have only been able to have all three because something more precious came along with it– partnership and friendship that always challenges me and that refuses to accept the bar I set for myself.

The first time Jess Gartner and I met, we spoke for about five minutes. I remember telling Elsa I just met someone with a great idea. And this may be apocryphal, but I remember also telling Elsa it was a great example of why I was never an entrepreneur myself. For all my love of strategy and problem solving, I never seemed to think of an idea that was worth doing. I know for sure I thought, “She found something worth doing.”

The second time Jess and I met, she flew to Providence to have coffee with me. In a classic Jess Gartner move, she claimed she had to “be there anyway” (bullshit). She told me that day that she saw “C-level potential in me” before I knew what that meant.

So much of my own success of the last ten years comes from Jess seeing things in me I didn’t know were options. And then she makes them happen before I even catch on to her plans. I like to think I do a bit of the same when it comes to ensuring our company and product deliver on her, and now our, vision.

Thank you.