I am Daniel James. I have a fierce passion for problem solving, especially through software development. I am good at designing and implementing simple and complex software solutions. I have weaknesses and failures too. I co-founded a company in 2004 that had to close its doors in 2009. For me, saying “no” is harder than saying “yes.” But because of going through a startup failure and taking a “fearless inventory” of myself, I am becoming the best me I can be.

In 1994, when alt. rock was awesome and my friends were more interested in just playing video games, I discovered something that intrigued me more than anything else my 10-year-old self had ever experienced: SmartBASIC on the Coleco ADAM. A paperback reference book and my cassette deck-powered ADAM were the portal into which I entered the world of programming. Shortly thereafter, and thankfully so, my family upgraded to a Windows-based PC and I discovered the Internet.

At 12, I learned HTML from the UK-published .NET magazine and I published my first Geocities site. From there, I continued to dig into “The Web” and discovered JavaScript, and eventually CSS. By the time I was 14, an older network admin friend noticed was a little different from my peers and asked if I would like to make a little money working part time as his assistant. The thought of earning disposable income working on computers was like mana from heaven to my teenaged self, so I jumped on board. My first duties were to sit in a closet with a DEC Unix server and copy files from the server on to floppies, which I then threw in a Windows PC and copied to a network share. Even the monotony could not sour my spirits, because I was working in IT! As time went on, I was enlisted to modify and build mail-merge forms in WordPerfect and I even built a prototype Outlook 2000 “Digital Dashboard.” (It was all the rage in the TechNet circles…)

As time went on, so did I, by the time I was 16, I found myself working part-time as a web developer for another company, doing ASP and SQL Server development. A year later, they asked me if I was interested in a full-time position. I might have blacked out for a bit, but once it hit me, I accepted. I was so excited to have turned my passion into my “official” profession. A little more time passed, and I considered college. I ended up applying at my local ITT Tech, paid the application fee, and got into the orientation meeting. That orientation meeting showed me much more than it intended because I saw that the focus of the classes was elementary computing, and that many of my would-be-classmates were experiencing the computer for the first time. I almost literally ran out of the orientation, stopped by the lady in admissions who kindly informed me that I wouldn’t get my application fee back, and drove away. From that point forward, I was determined to learn everything I could about information technology. I dug deeper, and I expanded more broadly than I had ever before. Around this time, I also began working with a man who has become a mentor to me, Kraig. With his mentoring and my personal resolve, I soaked up all the IT knowledge and experience I could.

In 2004, Kraig, myself, and another mutual friend and colleague started a web hosting and consulting company called Ràideil. While the company was young, I was only able to work part-time and after-hours on Raideil as I maintained my day job at Countrywide. But in 2008, two things happened: Countrywide infamously began its descent into the mortgage crisis and Ràideil landed a new contract, enabling me to shift over to full-time work… for my OWN company! In 2008, we were feeling great. We were billing a ton of consulting time on our new contract. We spoke at VMworld 2008 in Las Vegas. By the end of the conference in September, we were on a great path to grow Ràideil even further. Then the bottom fell out. Citing concerns over the economy, our contract was reneged, and our small business hosting customers dropped off little by little until Ràideil was forced to shut its doors in 2009, finally closing in 2010.

In the time since, I’ve done a lot of introspection, and for me to blame “The Economy” is really inaccurate. While lots of people have blamed “The Economy” for their business failures, lots of other businesses kept on going. For me, I think I lived in a bit of ignorance of how the business handled its cash flow. I also realized that on one hand, I understood Ràideil to be “my” company, I had never taken a deep ownership of it, learning and understanding it like I did with my passion for technology. All said, I do not regret the experience of owning a business and failing, because I learned an enormous amount from the 6 years we ran it. In the time since Ràideil, I picked up a couple of short-term contracts, and then my mentor invited me to work for him at an entertainment technology company.

In 2011, after things had “settled” from the business failure, my wife lovingly asked me a pointed question: “What are your plans for the future? Like, for the next 5 years?” I stuttered, admitting, “I don’t know.” I knew her question of me must be answered, and began to construct a 5-year plan covering all major aspects of my life, and “our” lives: the 2011 Advancement Plan. While the career-oriented aspects of the Advancement Plan include becoming an expert “technologist,” the relational aspects of the Plan have offered unexpected benefits to all areas of my life, including my career. For instance, in 2013, I discovered the immense importance of personal boundaries and the power of “no.” Themes of uncommon personal accountability and responsibility are growing out of my boundary work. As I approach the maturity of the Advancement Plan in 2016, I cannot wait to see the personal and career growth that I will reach.

My journey is far from over, and I cannot wait to take on its challenges.