TITLE: Celebrating a Friend's Success AUTHOR: Eugene Wallingford DATE: November 20, 2016 10:17 AM DESC: ----- BODY:
Wade Arnold accepting the Young Alumni Award from UNI President Jim Wohlpart
Last week, I read a blog entry by Ben Thompson that said Influence lives at intersections. Thompson was echoing a comment about Daniel Kahneman's career: "Intellectual influence is the ability to dissolve disciplinary boundaries." These were timely references for my week. On Friday night, I had the pleasure of attending the Heritage Honours Awards, an annual awards dinner hosted by my university's alumni association. One of our alumni, Wade Arnold, received the Young Alumni Award for demonstrated success early in a career. I mentioned Wade in a blog entry several years ago, when he and I spoke together at a seminar on interactive digital technologies. That day, Wade talked about intersections:
It is difficult to be the best at any one thing, but if you are very good at two or three or five, then you can be the best in a particular market niche. The power of the intersection.
Wade built his company, Banno, by becoming very good at several things, including functional programming, computing infrastructure, web development, mobile development, and financial technology. He was foresightful and lucky enough to develop this combination of strengths before most other people did. Most important, though, he worked really hard to build his company: a company that people wanted to work with, and a company that people wanted to work for. As a result, he was able to grow a successful start-up in a small university town in the middle of the country. It's been a delight for me to know Wade all these years and watch him do his thing. I'll bet he has some interesting ideas in store for the future. The dinner also provided me with some unexpected feelings. Several times over the course of the evening, someone said, "Dr. Wallingford -- I feel like I know you." I had the pleasure of meeting Wade's parents, who said kind things about my influence on their son. Even his nine-year-old son said, "My dad was talking about you in the car on the drive over." No one was confused about whom we were there to honor Friday night, about who had done the considerable work to build himself into an admirable man and founder. That was all Wade. But my experience that night is a small reminder to all you teachers out there: you do have an effect on people. It was certainly a welcome reminder for me at the end of a trying semester. -----