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Insights / June 19, 2014

Find Cool Projects. Run With Them. Run Far.

By Sara Simon

Eric loves soccer. Eric loves soccer a lot. Eric loves soccer maybe as much as he loves technology. So when Eric told Casey that he was spending the weekend building a scraper to get current World Cup group stage and match score results, Casey told him to run with it. Casey told him to run far.

The end product? A free, publicly available JSON API. An API that (humble brag) hung out at the top of Hacker News for quite some time earlier this week.

It happened 1) because Eric is super cool and 2) because Casey founded a company that encourages super cool people to do what they love.

I’ll be the first to admit: it’s very easy to forget this second part. When I’m so focused on work, I get lost in the shuffle. I help to get some really challenging and exciting and do-good work projects out the door and into the world, and it’s great. Actually, it’s more than great. It’s a really awesome way to make a living.

But getting lost in the work shuffle makes it really easy to forget that I have my own interests, too. More importantly, getting lost in the work shuffle makes it really easy to think that by doing anything else, I’m being a bad employee.

Honestly, though?

Working on a side project doesn’t make me a bad employee. It makes me a much better one.

Eric’s API was an excellent reminder that the very best projects stem from passion. He had an idea. He legitimately didn’t know if a solution was possible. He decided to give himself the challenge. He found a way to make it happen, then he worked until it did.

There are a thousand different ways Eric grew from the project, both as a software developer and as a soccer fan. (He wrote about them all here, by the way.)

It’s rare to find people who have Eric’s kind of drivepeople who seek out difficult challenges and take them on willingly, with grace and enthusiasm, without assignment or promised reward.

These are the people who come up with the most interesting answers. The people who focus on finding long-term solutions instead of quick fixes. The people who have the guts to embrace complicated issues with diverse perspectives and toolboxes. The people who mentor. The people you want to be around. The people you want to work with. The people you want to learn from.

Here at Software for Good, we want these people. We want an entire office full of these people. We’d be crazy not to, and we’d be crazy not to support them the very best we could.