David Smooke

@DavidSmooke

3 Questions With Software Engineer Jimmy Lee

Jimmy is software engineer at Bold.co, an early stage tech startup aspiring to be your company’s town square. From what I’ve seen, it’s a pretty f*ckin’ slick internal communications tool. Previously, Jimmy helped build Patreon, NeonMob and MeetingsIO. His preferred languages are Javascript and CSS. Jimmy describes himself as “Not a Thought Leader.”

1. We actually met through basketball. You were always faster than me and I was — and believe I always will be — a better shooter :) The last time we played it was at Alice Marble court and no one else showed up so we played full court 1:1. So tiring. So my first question is, what other types of needlessly execrating activities have you done to become better at whatever it is you’re doing?

I will always respect your shot David, no question about it! While I wouldn’t call basketball a needlessly excruciating activity (maybe it is), the more I reflect on it, the more I realized the sport probably exposed how much I love being the underdog. I found time to play every single day for many years no matter how many times I was swatted, teased, and disregarded on the court. If basketball taught me anything, it’s to make sure your motivations are intrinsic, versus extrinsic. When you set your goals and push yourself with confidence that comes from within, then no one else can bring you down. That mindset along with staying kind probably helped me get through the most stressful moments of introducing new products to the nicest place in the world: the internet. I guess the beautiful thing about the web is that no one has to know or care that I’m short.
Between the people I work with, I have this stupid joke that’s probably only funny to me. Whenever someone asks me “What are you doing for fun?” or “What do you do in your spare time?”, I always reply with “Playing my favorite computer game, building a website.” It is a stupid joke I know — but I guess if you love something you’re just going to march to your beat and keep going (everyday).

2. The internet — and it’s ability to connect us to likeminded people from afar — has had a profound impact on both our lives. Could you speak a bit about how the internet has shaped your personal development, and what direction you hope the internet goes over the next decade?

Well, the internet is my life, it gave me my career, good friends when my family was moving a lot, and my first glimpse into the rest of the world. I would even say the Internet saved my life because it provided me access to knowledge that you would otherwise have to be very privileged to access. Half of my skills are self-taught thanks to the internet.
In retrospect, I think for young people the value of the experience of being on the internet can go both ways — there are obviously very malicious things on the web, and we need to address those problems seriously. But let’s imagine you are a teenager, and your world sucks and everyone around you says negative and hurtful things. Finding a community outside of your physical world can have really positive effects on your existence. Having access to learning materials can give you a competitive edge in a school with poor funding and limited resources. Having access to a forum of discussion can connect you with someone who could employ you one day or network you with the right people. When you look at the internet under this lens you really start to see the doors this technology opens.
I still get emotional whenever I see a Windows 95 screenshot or someone sends me a pic of an old PC with hardware that once cost a fortune. This communications technology is everything to me and I’m proud of it. I’m not ashamed to admit that over the internet I’ve met good people and made real connections.
Looking ahead towards the future, I hope developers and artists focus on how the world and the internet can be more of a positive, welcoming, and diverse place. It should be place where anyone can go learn something they don’t know, and share experiences that inspire others to express themselves and do good.

3. Dude, your company has the twitter handle, @BOLD. That’s cool. Why is what you’re building cool enough to be simply referred to as @BOLD?

I know we are addressing a problem that every company has. You got to imagine yourself joining a new team and all of the thoughts that cross your mind. How am I going to fit in with people? What should I be working on to contribute value? How will I leave a good first impression? Is my current role going to grow my career?
Bold is a product that shatters the first barriers to understanding a company, as well as provides a stage for you so that coworkers and leadership will notice you. For some people, you could say it emboldens them to be an active participant in the culture of their company. I think if people write more in their companies they’ll feel more understood. And we need more of that understanding.

Check out the free trial at Bold.co. This BETA product aims to be your company’s town square.

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