A friend of mine from Austin, Texas is starting a really amazing company and has been traveling a ton to San Francisco. When he’s here, he always wants me to come out so he can buy drinks for the night. He thinks he still owes me for something I helped him with a few years ago.
He doesn’t owe me anything. But here’s what I was able to help him with.
He is a founder. So, a company or two ago in his life, we were hanging out one day and I gave him a piece of advice about which incubator space he should work in to get access to the best investors and advisors in Austin. He ended up taking the advice, and it made a massive difference in his business and opened up a lot of opportunities that he might not have had anywhere else in the city, or that he would have perhaps had to work much harder for.
Those opportunities have been huge for the company he is starting, which is going to change a lot of people’s lives. He’s been getting incredible mentions in the press, and President Obama recognized his efforts and innovation last year.
He’s crushing it, and he wants to thank me for the small bit of advice that I offered years ago.
But I wouldn’t have been in a place to offer even the slightest advice had someone else not helped me in my career a few years earlier.
Recently, he hired one of the top sales and biz dev people in Austin to lead sales at his company. This sales guy is incredibly talented and hard-working, and has made his way through a number of really amazing companies in Austin. He is also one of the most generous people I’ve ever met in my life.
When I was starting my career out in tech, this sales guy barely knew me, but he went out of his way to spend hours with me on the phone, editing my resume and helping me interview for jobs. We had a few regularly scheduled calls on Sundays where he would give me advice and guidance as I was finding my place in the professional tech world.
Just his advice was a huge help, but it didn’t end there. He ended up taking a job at Google in Austin to help build a sales team out. A few days later, I got a call from him to see how I felt about joining Google. Obviously I was interested.
He helped me interview, and ultimately helped me get an offer from Google.
Now, I ended up turning the Google offer down to join another company that I ended up getting laid off from about 90 days later (lesson learned: never turn down Google). But that was ok, because a few months after that I joined WP Engine, which cemented my path in tech startups, and ultimately put me in the incubator that I told my other friend he needed to check out.
The point of the story is that when we help each other out, everyone benefits. The sales guy just joined an amazing company that might not have existed in its present form had he not set aside hours and hours of his time to help someone like me build up a little bit of career momentum.
Now, I don’t think my sales guy friend expected that helping me out would benefit him in the way that it did. He was investing in me because he believes paying it forward pays off. His help paid off massively for my career, and now its paying off for him. And he’s just one of a number of folks that have made investments in my career and my life over the past several years and helped me get to where I am. But I can say definitively that without his help, I wouldn’t have been in a place to offer any advice about which incubator my entrepreneur buddy should work out of.
This is a big reason I believe in spending time helping people with their resumes. Because I’ve gotten so much help along the way. From personal experience, I can say there is a massive amount of good that comes from helping people get to the next stage of their careers.
When people move up in their careers, they learn new things that help them make a bigger contribution to the world.
When people move up in their careers, they make more money, which opens up new possibilities for them.
When people move up in their careers, they gain a bit of confidence and momentum.
I believe helping folks with their careers makes the pie a little bit bigger. And I think I have some evidence to prove it.
Hope this helps.
Austin W. Gunter