Red Squirrel's Nuts

I constantly forget where I bury my nuts, but at least they sometimes grow trees.

Aug 15 2012

Making a move

After a lot of thinking and conversations over the last few months, I’ve decided to leave Groupon in order to pursue my goals to help decentralize our country’s systems of education. It’s a big decision to walk away from a network of people that I admire, have learned so much from, and have loved working with for the past 6 years (including my 5 years at Obtiva). It’s not a decision I take lightly, but I can’t not make this move right now. If you know me, you know that I relish in the realization of human potential, particularly through self-directed and decentralized learning. I’m now ready to make that my full-time focus.

My goal for the next year is to put myself in a position to start or join an audacious venture that is working toward a decentralized future for our education systems. In the meantime, I will be working on several different Chicago ventures in and around the intersection of technology and education.

  • Mobile Makers Academy: A joint venture with Vokal Interactive to create an academy to help developers learn iOS development. Apply here. Let me know if you’re interested in getting involved.
  • Code Academy Ruby Dojo: I will be leading a group of junior Ruby developers through a course that provides the practice and mentoring necessary to help them become employable as software developers. More details soon. Follow @rubydojo to stay tuned.
  • Red Squirrel Technologies: A little entity that I will use to do freelance work. I will focus on software development, and more importantly, apprenticeship program facilitation.

I believe that apprenticeship is a viable and immediate solution to some of our economy’s most pressing problems. First, our huge number of un/under-employed young people. Second, 50% of our businesses can’t hire enough skilled workers. There are probably many solutions to bridging this gap, and the one that I can help with is apprenticeship. I want to see 1000 apprenticeship programs started inside of businesses across the country. I wrote some of my ideas and an overview of my approach in this paper. 1000 apprenticeship programs is a tall order, but thankfully there are many people working on this, and some of our leaders in Washington are about to hear about it!

Here’s a cool story:

I was invited to speak at an UnCollege event a couple weeks ago in San Francisco. On a whim, I asked a friend for a meeting with Mitch Kapor. Unbelievably, I was able to get 40 minutes with him just a few hours before I flew home. I simply wanted to share some stories with him, with no real agenda. The outcome of our brief meeting was an invitation for me to give a TED-ish talk about apprenticeship to Obama’s CTO, Todd Park, and about 40 other tech leaders at the White House on August 21st. My goal for the day is to push apprenticeship as far as it can go. My friend Dale and I have been talking about an apprenticeship institute for the past few months, and I want to explore that idea at the White House. I am eager to see what transpires there.

Stay tuned!

I need to thank a bunch of people for the last 6 years at Obtiva/Groupon, and all they have done to set me up for whatever is ahead of me. Kevin Taylor, for hiring me, giving me part of your company, and being such a solid leader at Obtiva. Tyler Jennings, for your dedication to making great software. Andy Maleh, for your dedication to quality, to learning, and doing things the best way possible. I need to thank our many succesful apprentices over the years starting with Brian Tatnall and Colin Harris, and more recently, Carl Thuringer and Jacob Richardson, and everyone in between. For the many amazing craftsmen like Ryan Briones and Corey Haines who are just 2 of the dozens of kindred spirits who have inspired and challenged me over the years. Gary Levitt, the CEO of Mad Mimi, who taught me about how to love customer service and product development, and then handed me part of his company. Finally, a huge thanks to Neal Sales-Griffin, Dale J. Stephens, and Shereef Bishay, who all unknowingly conspired together to inspire me to FILDI.

Speaking of FILDI…


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