Evan Smith co-founded a non-profit organization in 2011 and served as president, treasurer, and historian before leaving to pursue his software development career in 2013. He currently serves as a senior developer and leads a team of dedicated developers. Evan holds a business degree and is pursuing an information systems master’s degree. In his spare time, Evan enjoys serving others as a life and business coach, tinkering with technology at home, and spending time with his wife and daughter. The best way to contact Evan is by entering a user story in Azure DevOps.
A note from Evan:
My professional biography above is an executive summary of my successes and my interests. Let’s get real about me.
I’ve held sales positions in the past, but they all required me to lie about the value or usefulness of products in which I largely saw no value. The classic “sell me this pen” interview question will likely end an interview early for me. My response is, “You don’t need that pen. That pen sucks. Get a smoother pen that doesn’t bleed through your journal pages for half the price. And don’t buy a whole pack of them because you won’t value any of them if you have ten of them. Choose a single or two-pack, keep up with your quality pen, and don’t let anyone else use it because you know they will ‘accidentally’ keep it.” I would likely then lead into ways to make sure you keep up with your pen, such as, “always carry your pen in your backpack (or satchel, or front pocket) and always place your pen in the same place when you aren’t using or carrying it (like in your desk drawer or on your bedside table).”
I’ve enjoyed technology since I was a child. The match is one of the greatest pieces of technology we have, and what kid doesn’t love fire? More specifically, I’ve loved computers since I can remember. Imagine a back story about how I played on ancient computers, assisted in maintaining computers for my high school, worked at an ISP, and so on and so forth. I won’t waste the bytes of storage and your precious time going into detail because many of us have a similar story about getting into the “tech” field.
Fast forward to deciding on a college major. I went to college for two reasons. a) I was expected to go to college. b) I wanted to be “successful” and make a lot of money. (I’m being real here, so don’t judge!) The logical major for me was computer engineering. Computer because I liked computers, and Engineering because I wanted to make a lot of money. This is when I learned my first lesson in cost-benefit analysis without knowing that cost-benefit analysis was an actual thing. The cost of my having to attend class, learn all the difficult math and physics, and spend countless hours on projects did not seem worth the perceived benefit to someone who ultimately wanted to write end-user applications, not design circuit boards. I was learning more about things that didn’t interest me than I was about things that did interest me. This will be true to some extent for any degree, certification, or training in which you enroll. I finally changed my major to business, excelled, and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in business with a concentration in management information systems (now called business and information technology).
During my time as an undergraduate student, I stumbled across opportunities to serve on campus and in the community. I took a job as a resident assistant and later a hall director for the residential life department. I co-founded a 501(c)7 organization that still thrives to this day, and I served on a half-marathon board as the volunteer coordinator, successfully managing over 250 volunteers for the event.
All of that involvement was amazingly fulfilling. I met great people, I accomplished lofty goals, and I made a positive difference to people, organizations, and communities. But I did not do any of it alone. Along the way, I had help on specific projects, advice from people who I now realize were mentors, and encouragement from people who supported me or my goals. I’ll come back to all the help I had in a few paragraphs …
I left my small college town in 2013 to pursue my dream of writing software professionally. I moved to Nashville, TN where the market for software developers was (and still is) hot. Remind me to write a post on my first three months as a professional software developer, and I’ll link to it here. I’ve been writing code for the same company since I graduated college. I once spoke to a recruiter who informed me that it’s incredibly rare for a developer to stick with a company as long as I have. Kudos to me, maybe? Or am I missing out on opportunities because I’m not job hopping? We may never know.
Through all my experiences, I have changed personally and professionally. The “success” I set out to achieve when I enrolled in college … have i achieved it? It’s an impossible question to answer because I never defined what “success” meant to me. Since I had no definition, I had no goal, and I had no way to achieve it. I think my teenage self would look at a snapshot of my life today and think that I’m successful, but there is no real way to know for sure.
This is where years 2018 and 2019 become important. I seriously considered quitting my job no fewer than three times in 2018. I had nothing else lined up, but I vowed that I would work for minimum wage and downsize to support my family if that’s what needed to happen. Of course, I can find a well-paying software development job almost instantly because I still live in Nashville. In the first couple of weeks in 2019, a colleague and friend said “new year, new you!” to me in a conversation. I couldn’t have imagined at the time the impact that simple whimsical phrase would have on my life.
Shortly after that conversation, I became a life and business coach. I still have my day job developing software for the same company I have worked for since graduating college, but I also coach people in their personal lives and on business topics on the side. It’s immensely rewarding for me because I get to help people figure out their definition of success and achieve it! It’s a sales job (you thought I wouldn’t tie back into that, didn’t you). The difference is that I now sell people something that is invaluable, rather than something that is not-valuable. I sell people the ability identify what success means to them as an individual, what they want their life to look like, and I sell people a relatively clear path to achieving that success. It helps me out professionally, too. Evaluating different situations allows me to better put my own work situations into perspective.
People often see no need for help. That’s a problem, and I’ve been there. While co-founding organizations and coordinating volunteers and making big differences, I didn’t realize that I had help every step of the way. I didn’t seek help, and no one said, “I’m going to help you by …,” but people were helping all along. The “help” aspect of success stories is rarely mentioned, so people think they can achieve lofty goals and “success” with no help. Few people can and will do it truly alone. Most people, however, need help getting to the next level – for many different reasons. That’s why I’ve chosen to devote my personal time to helping people see a clear picture of where they are, where they want to be, and the best path to achieving their personalized definition of success, which is the only definition of success that matters.
Recruiters can find me on LinkedIn, and people seeking personal or business coaching can contact me directly.