This is a very special post because it’s the first feature in our new series, The 8 Spot. The format of the series is simple; we interview professionals in their field and ask them 8 simple questions. That’s it!
For the last 8 years David has worked in various roles such as Sr. Application Architect and Software Engineer primarily working on systems that power the Nordstrom’s e-commerce site. In a talk last year, he shared his experience on building out the recommendation engine called Recommendo API and introducing Node.js and AWS (Amazon Web Services) to Nordstrom’s Data Lab.
Let’s get started…
What made you decide on a career in tech?
Sort of stumbled into it really. I was enrolled in a masters of structural engineering program at UW and not particularly enjoying it. This was way back at the height of the first dot-com bubble and development jobs abounded, much like today. I ended up joining a two person startup in Pioneer Square called eProject where I taught myself ASP (the original VBScript one, this was still pre Microsoft .NET). I’ve been building predominantly web-based systems ever since. Turns out it was a stroke of luck for me to fall into a career I really love and excel at.
What or who inspires you?
I’m going to go with Danny MacAskill, the free-style bicyclist extraordinaire. If you haven’t seen his videos, Google him now. They are nothing short of spellbinding. I’m in awe of those incredibly rare individuals with the talent, persistence, and mental fortitude to practice and refine a skill, advancing the state of the art to ridiculously, seemingly impossible, high levels. I figure if he can pull of those sorts of gravity defying feats, surely I can build some software that people are willing to pay money for.
What is your go-to app?
iTerm2, Sublime Text, and of course Aerobatic
Finish the sentence: “If I’m not working, I’m…”
being a dad and husband. I have two sons, 7 and 4, who I love dearly, but present a bottomless source of work. Activities, cleaning up, making dinner, drop-offs, pick-ups, crafts, birthdays, rough-housing, family outings, and on and on.
What was a challenge you faced in your career and how did you overcome it?
Honestly I may be facing it right now. Juggling a startup, family, job, it’s simultaneously exciting and exhausting. How I overcome it.. well that story is still being written.
What do you find interesting about what you do?
I think programming is the greatest profession in the world. I feel so fortunate to exist in a time and place where it’s possible to make a living doing something I would do anyway. For me it’s the perfect blend of creativity, artistic expression, engineering, and experimentation. I also enjoy building things in the physical world, but unlike wood, code is infinitely malleable. There’s no real cost incurred for tearing parts down, rearranging parts, and so on. The natural flow of coding actually encourages it.
What’s the best advice anyone has given you?
I’ve never met Wayne Gretzky, but I love his famous quote: “you miss 100% of the shots you don’t take”. Sure it’s overused, but it’s still the best nugget sized piece of advice that’s stuck in my brain.
What’s your life motto?
Seek balance. Have fun. Follow the golden rule. Get plenty of sleep and exercise. Enjoy the moment, but have a plan. Challenge yourself, but don’t take yourself too seriously. Not really a cohesive motto, but some of my personal guidelines for life and what I try to instill in my kids.
Follow David Von Lehman on Twitter: @davidvlsea.
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