Craftsman in the Modern Era

I have been reading a survey book on American History (vol 1 and 2) (along with a tomb on the Civil War and John Adams) and one of the things that struck me from early pre-US history is how we used to have craftsman. In those days we worked our way up from apprentice to journeyman to craftsman. We don’t call ourselves craftsman anymore and it is a real shame.

The beauty of this set up was the process. Moving from apprentice to journeyman to craftsman took years, maybe decades. Today we rush that process and think we can accomplish it overnight. When I graduated from college I started a company. I didn’t think twice about the process and the things I needed to learn in order to do it successfully. And as I look back now I see that I was really an apprentice for all those years.

Now that whole statement is a bit misleading. My craft is not running companies; my craft is creating great software products. But even there I would say I have been, at best, a journeyman. Yes, we have had some products that had tremendous success. powerOne Graph for Palm OS devices was so popular that our customers still buy PalmPilots off eBay to run it. Our powerOne Finance for iPhone, iPad and iPod touch has a 5-star rating and our line-up of iOS calculator products is approaching a million downloads. But I wouldn’t say I crafted these products. I wouldn’t say that I had internalized the customer experience. I wouldn’t say I understood the magic.

When I started Infinity Softworks I did it because I had no idea what I wanted to do. I started college in the engineering program, majored in business where I came close to getting degrees in four subjects, should have majored in computer science and considered majoring in journalism. While running Infinity I have done ten other jobs, too: accounting, marketing, sales, business development, writing code, writing copy, designing. It has taken me a long time to figure out my specialty and now that I have, I desperately want to hone that skill, to go from a journeyman to a craftsman.

I think we all are or are aspiring to be a craftsman in something. I worked with a woman who was an amazing salesperson. She was definitely a craftswoman at her trade. I have also been lucky to work with a number of amazing developers who were craftsman at their trades. I hope as Infinity Softworks moves forward I once again get to work with amazing craftspersons and hope that I get to focus more and more on my own.

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