Brady Gaster is a Christian dad who lives near Seattle, Washington. At work, he and his amazing colleagues work together to make it fun for .NET developers to party in the cloud. At home, he tinkers with MIDI hardware and makes loud music amidst a hurricane of wires.

Dear Charlotte,

Tomorrow's the day my family leaves Charlotte for Seattle. So, the timing is perfect for the "buh-bye" post, and this is it. If you've been a part of my network you might want to read this. Then again, maybe not. There's going to be some good stuff and some bad stuff, and I hope everyone gets what I'm trying to say and that this post fails to burn any bridges. That's not my intent. My intent, as it always has been, is to empower Charlotte. 

Good News First. You're probably in this first list if you're reading this blog post, and you're probably going to blush at some point because I'm going to name names in this section. You have done good, groundbreaking work, made my professional life in Charlotte livable and memorable, and you deserve to have a light shined on you. This is in no particular order aside from the order in which you popped into my head tonight, so don't take your list placement personally, for your list placement has no relevance on your list placement in terms of your effect on my career and ways of thinking. Sorry if this sounds like an Academy Awards acceptance speech or suicide note, as that's not the intent. The intent is to thank you for the awesomely positive impact you've made in my life here in Charlotte and for seriously reducing the suck factors, which will be discussed later in the post. These folks have been the gold stars in my lives for the past 8 years, and they all deserve to be reminded. 

  • My wife. She is the most patient and amazing person I've ever met, and has initiated a sacrifice of astronomic proportions to move across the country in support of her husband. If you see her, applaud her. I do not make it easy for her and she keeps on smiling and supporting me no matter what, and willfully agreed to move 3000 miles from everything she's known for 20 years. That's amazing. It's also her birthday, so happy birthday, love. 
  • Jim Christopher. Thank you. Thank you for finally convincing me that I really could do good stuff, for being my friend and teacher, and for challenging every single thing about the way I code. Seeing your code at that place and realizing I was actually learning syntax for the first time in a decade in a language I consider my second language was a humbling experience and a motivational experience. Knowing there was that much more to learn re-invigorated me and I owe that to you, as I owe the countless hours of psychological debate most find quite boring. 
  • Rick Sammons. Thanks for the countless hours of tough love and reminding me that yes, there is bullshit in the technical world but we can change it. Thank you especially for keeping on me to remember we needed to change it in small buckets, not with a hurricane of resistance. 
  • Mike Linnen. The robot master. He laughed at me when I set speakers on fire, then showed me how not to do so the next time. He helped me save Eddie and demonstrates time and again that a geek can still be a cool dad. Mike's an inspiration.
  • Roger Johnson for being the best sport and best support network a guy could ever need. He took the pill right after I did, and I am happy to be working with Roger again, even if we're not really working together again. You're the most humble guy I know, the most honest an genuine dude in my network, and your fooz skillz can make grown men weep. 
  • Dennis Kuntz. Because he put up with me and taught me that sending professional emails does not mean sending boring emails. He also believed in me, and that's just rad. Also, I thank Dennis for all the political discussions and inspiration to learn more about how awesome America can be if we just try to make America grow a pair and look after itself again. 
  • Mark Wilson. You brought me back to the Guild and made me feel welcome there. Thanks, that meant a lot to me. 
  • Brian Hitney. Because you referred me, reminded me I could speak in public, and gave me the opportunity to do so, then referred me and made one of my career dreams a reality, even if you kind of regret doing so sometimes. I'm sorry on behalf of myself and Jim for being those guys in the back of the room that night at your MVC talk at the Guild. 
  • Dan Thyer and everyone else at Logical Advantage for letting me speak on your behalf and for being the most promising consulting company in Charlotte. 
  • My family at MobileHwy, for sticking together through thick and thin and for supporting one another for goodness-knows how many years and situations.
  • Chris Halligan, for getting me out of a bad situation, then giving me an opportunity, and for knowing what Charlotte needs and for making it happen. 
  • Jim Van Fleet, for being the guy who made me think about things differently and who reminded me that, even in Charlotte, small business can thrive and flourish. You and your wife are bringing Charlotte into the future, listening to it kick and scream in resistance, and not taking no for an answer. Charlotte listens to you, so keep screaming, talking, teaching, and pushing. Please don't ever stop starting-up. 

Bad News Last. If you don't want to read this, stop here and just be happy.

Not everything in the Charlotte technical industry is as it should be. I won't name names, but trust me, there are some folks here, some companies here, who need to remember that they got into technology because they liked to solve problems and make things easier, not because it was an easy industry in which you could find a niche' and become complacent. If you think I'm talking to you, then maybe you should stop doing it the way you're doing it because you've broken it already. That's not to say it can't be fixed. Some rules of the road first, based on things I've seen happening in the Charlotte technical world that I don't think I've seen anywhere else or at least not in the velocity and repetitive nature I've seen here. I want to be a lesson-teacher, so hopefully you'll take these points as positive criticism and guidance and not just bitching. I know it isn't just me bitching, because I know Charlotte technical folks want to and have the capacity to fix Charlotte the technology industry and some are already proving it to me. 

  • Don't be complacent. I said this before. Consider this a reminder. Complacency is the opposite of motivated, and you have to be motivated to solve problems that arise in computer land. If you think I'm talking to you, just stop reading this post now, stop using the approach or toolset you're using, and try something new. 
  • Don't hide behind your process, because your process will eat you like the Rancor, sans malice. Process is good, but only when you've already thought long and hard about how to do things and analyzed what works and what doesn't work. If your people suck, don't process them into oblivion, because your process will be built to make people suck less, and people who suck that bad continue to suck. 
  • Reactionary thought is bad. Don't do it. If you're worried about how decision X or decision Y will impact your business, you're doing it right. If you're reacting to how decision X or decision Y blew you up, you should probably just do your best to fix it, sunset it, and in the process of fixing it, find the next best thing and double the amount of time you spend planning before sinking another ship.
  • Be transparent and be honest, and don't worry so much about what did or didn't work 4 technologies ago. Chances are, technology X from 1998 was a good idea given a context that is now irrelevant. Deciding not to do something in a certain way because doing it that way blew you out of the water in 1998 might feel like "trying not to repeat history," but it's actually kind of insane, because 1998 called and wanted to let you know "things are completely different now and you should forget about the way technology functioned in 1998 and do what you do in 2012." Context is everything, and 1998 usually fails to reflect context upon 2012 because 1998 had no idea what 2012 would need. 
  • Go to user group meetings and pretend you can be heard. Complain. Ask questions. Don't stare. Staring convinces the speaker and the 4 guys asking questions at every meeting that you don't really care about technology. 
  • And the most important thing of all. When you do go to a user group or a technical meeting or an interview, don't stand there with your arms crossed the way the guys at the edge of the mosh pit stand around at a Minor Threat concert and make people feel like you know more than they do. You know what? All that posturing makes you look like a jerk, and people who don't know as much as you do won't ask you what you know because they're scared of you. If no one ever asks you any questions, you're posturing without proving anything, without serving any purpose. You're just an ineffective statue who should have stayed at home and told yourself how smart you were in the mirror all night long. 

Take this harsh aspect of the email with a grain of salt, Charlotte, and remember. I love you as a town and wanted to live here since the first time I walked into the 1313 club to see Soundgarden in concert, and I knew it the first time I saw a Panther run a touchdown across the goal line. I know Charlotte can do some amazing things. Just forgive your own mistakes, forget your bad memories, remember your passion, and use it to make things improve. It really is up to you, not the guys on the 100th floors of those buildings uptown. Those guys wouldn't be on those 100th floors if they didn't need 99 floors of good people like yourself, who have passion, motivation, and love for what you do. So flex your muscles, ask the ones with bigger muscles and thicker glasses how they do what they do, and when they start answering your question, don't ignore them in anticipation of what you plan on saying next. Actually. Hear. Them. And try to comprehend how their wisdom can aid in your progression. 

And above all. Code with happiness and remember how you felt the first time you solved a problem. Guess what - it could happen as often as it used to if you let it.