Last week the time had come for me to say goodbye to Red Hat. I joined the company on the third day of the year 2000. Red Hat was 350 people then. Today the company is over 3500 and is the largest and most recognized open source company in the world. I may have left the company, but in many ways I will always be a Red Hatter.
But today I’m chasing a new kind of dream. Today is my first day at New Kind.
The company was started two years ago by people I’ve worked with nearly my entire career at Red Hat. You can read more about them here.
You might describe New Kind as a branding, design, and communications agency–but the role of New Kind is best described as that of a community catalyst. They help organizations build communities of passionate people, whether inside or outside company walls.
New Kind applies principles of the open source way to help organizations innovate, position their brands, and help their customers and employees engage as communities. I’ve always believed that the open source way is universal and its benefits extend far beyond the world of technology. New Kind is helping organizations discover this every day.
My role at New Kind will be to help companies position their brands, craft their messages, tell compelling stories, and help them communicate with and work within their communities. My title is Director of Poetics. I’ll be helping not only to define content strategy, but helping organizations refine their communications and ideas to their simplest, most powerful expression. All to make those ideas more effective. Memorable. Repeatable.
And on a personal level, it’s a day in my career where I’ve come full circle.
One of my favorite projects over my 11 years at Red Hat was the creation of our second annual report in 2001. I worked together with Burney Design, an agency founded by David Burney, who is now New Kind’s CEO. At the time, Burney Design was located in a beautiful mid-century modern building. I spent many days working alongside their designers–and I imagined one day working at a creative firm just like that one, and in a creative environment that inspires like theirs did.
Today I’m rejoining my long-time mentor David Burney, branding genius and my closest creative collaborator Chris Grams, and brilliant designer Matthew Muñoz, who I’ve worked with many years and who is the President of AIGA Raleigh, where I serve on the board as the VP of Brand. And we’re back in the same building that inspired me so many years ago.
Today this is a dream come true.
A few years ago I read a book called Flow by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, which introduced me to the term “autotelic.” Derived from two Greek words–auto, or self, and telos, meaning goal–the word is used to describe work that is gratifying for the love of the work itself. Work that fulfills us not just because of extrinsic rewards, but because it gives us a mission and purpose.
New Kind is that kind of place. And I can’t think of anyone I’d rather do it with.
While I’m sad to leave many good friends at Red Hat and a company I love, I believe Mark Twain had it right when he said:
“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
It’s time to chase a new kind of dream.