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Monday’s “Live Your Story”- Chris Schomaker

February 7, 2011

Stories take unexpected twists and turns.  We don’t have the privilege of reading ahead so we move forward with only what we know.  That sense of unknown is what creates tension in our stories.  It’s tension that makes our stories desired reading.  Chris Schomaker is moving through that tension in the crazy competitive and chaotic world of New York City.  Chris picked up and moved from Columbia, Missouri (shout out to Alma mater- Mizzou!) to Brooklyn, NY to work as a web developer with Charity:Water.  That particular organization has been gaining popularity by the day for its life-giving work in bringing clean water to villages across the world.  While Chris has been able to travel the world and watch lives change through his work with Charity:Water, he recently started seeking change in his own life too.  Chris has decided to move on from C:W and will now test the waters with a close friend in starting up a new company.  Decisions and change are difficult but the journey is lighter when their is a deep knowledge of self-awareness (who he truly is) and support (who is around him).

Chris Schomaker                         Brooklyn, NY                             Web Developer

 

1.Name a person, book, and moment that served as a catalyst the pursuit of your passion?

Person: My wife. Yeah, I know most married men will say this but it’s true. If it wasn’t true then we probably wouldn’t be married
She’s not only tolerant but she outright encourages me to do silly things like:
– keep long hours on occasion (this month for instance)
– spend sunny days inside working on projects
– stare at a computer until all hours in the same room where she’s trying to sleep

Book: Everything from The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering by Fred Brooks (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Mythical_Man-Month)  to American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House by John Meacham (http://www.amazon.com/American-Lion-Andrew-Jackson-White/dp/product-description/0739334581).  Recently, Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work by Matthew B. Crawford (http://www.amazon.com/Shop-Class-Soulcraft-Inquiry-Value/dp/1594202230)  had a big impact on my work life. I took two things from it:
1. True work, the kind that resonates in your soul, has nothing to do with pay.
2. I am not, and never will be, merely a resource.

Moment: Moving to New York changed my life. After seven years in Columbia, Mo, my life needed a jolt.  Don’t get me wrong, I miss Missouri and countless people there. New York City can be a very frustrating place to live as well. But thanks to the budding tech scene here, there are people and resources here that I wouldn’t have access to had I not made the move. Back in Missouri, I might still have a business casual job at an insurance company.

2. What risks did you have to take along the way and how did they interact with your fears?

Leaving charity: water feels risky. I was the only technical person there for a long time so I had a small amount of authority. At my new company, there’s several people more experienced than I am. I imagine it’s a similar feeling for a pitcher that just got called up from the minors. “Are you ready for this? Should you be here?” My confidence fluctuates from knowing the answers to the those questions to hoping I know the answers to those questions.

3. What was the biggest and most unexpected pain (a blind side moment) in your journey? How has it changed you and your process?

I was surprised when I realized that I wanted to leave charity: water. Not only did I want to leave, but I thought it was the best thing for me. I’d spent two years there working along side my wife for a cause that we both believe in.  Part of realizing that leaving was the best thing for me was acknowledging that I’m not a young professional. I am simply young. I needed to make decisions that would help me learn the chops of my trade so I could feel ok about tacking on the professional part. There’s nothing I can do about the young.

4. What is a question that you don’t get asked but wish you would?

Want to ride bikes?      (I do get asked this occasionally, just not nearly enough.)

5. Answer your desired question.

Yes.

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