The End of an Incredible Adventure with The Iron Yard

I was recently invited to an event about digital marketing. At the beginning of the talk, I mentioned that the material included lessons learned from The Iron Yard, a company I co-founded and helped to run for over five years. (The Iron Yard was at one time the world’s largest in-person code school1.)

After the talk, an older gentleman came up to me and said, “I’d like to have a word with you.” Not sure whether to expect praise or reprimand, I said, “I’d love to talk,” and stepped aside with him. As he pulled out his phone, he told me that during the talk, he’d sent a message to his grandson letting him know that he was at a talk being given by on of the founders of The Iron Yard.

Here’s a copy of the exchange:

[Our] speaker today is Eric Dodds, one of The Iron Yard founders. How would you rate your training? Are you using any of it in your job now?

It was awesome and I use my training every day!

I’d done a fair bit of processing since The Iron Yard made the announcement about closing, but for some reason that moment caught me off guard and the memories began to dance across my mind like a sped-up slideshow. Anyone who has a job knows that you don’t get the kind of direct encouragement that man at the talk shared with me, but as the memory-collage of the last few years spun on the reel, I was reminded again how often it did actually happen at The Iron Yard and what a privilege it was to be a part of so many people’s lives.

Thinking about all of our students naturally led me to thinking about all of the amazing people I had the chance to work with over the years as well. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a group of such talented people pour their heart and soul into work every single day. I’m still young, but I’ve been around long enough to know that working at a place where everyone truly loves coming to work everyday—even in the hard times—is a rarity.

The flashbacks caused a warm welling-up in my heart, overwhelming me with a sense of blessing and thankfulness. Right in the thick of the moment, I abruptly re-entered the atmosphere as the kind man said, “well, thanks again for the talk and everything you did.” I shook off my trance, shook his hand and turned to new faces who had gathered to talk an ask questions.

This week I will officially finish up my role at The Iron Yard. I’ve been thinking about that moment of memories and thankfulness after my talk—and being quickly pulled back into reality, to the conversations in front of me. Many things could be said, but that experience is a perfect summary: I’m extremely thankful and tremendously excited about what lies ahead (which I’ll write about soon).

1. You can read more about code schools on Wikipedia.

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Practicing the art of bringing guns to a knife fight.

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