Building a perpetual learning machine

In the midst of a particularly enjoyable college semester ten years ago, my good friend Eric Cadwell and I joked that a great job would be just going to school full-time for life.

I decided to figure out how to make a career out of it, in one way or another.

On the list of enjoyable things about the years that followed working as a pastor was the constant learning; I enjoy wrestling deeply with theology and its practicality, plus there’s no shortage of learning opportunities dealing with the human dynamics that come with ministry—painful, yes, but certainly plenty.

When I started &yet, I had the idea of building a business around the things that I had spent the bulk of my free-time learning (namely, web development and design). I figured if doing that could make me at least $30k a year, that was good enough. I mean, heck, there’s no school that’ll pay you a net gain of $30k to learn whatever you want!

It's worked out better than I thought -- I've improved my design skill and learned a ton about what it takes to make great software. Plus, you can't beat the opportunity to learn from people you've helped teach.

Amy hadn't designed for web when we added her to our team and now she's at the top of her class. Her design aesthetic has always been second-to-none, however, and I've learned a huge amount from her intentional simplicity. Working with me has made me a much better designer and made me realize how far I have to go.

We spent the first few months of James's time with us helping get him up to speed with our process and writing high quality HTML and CSS -- but more recently instead of teaching him, he's doing the educating on advanced CSS3 techniques.

But we're just getting started.

I feel like I've only started with what our folks are capable of teaching -- and as we've crossed the point of being a fun ad hoc group and into being a real company for some time now, our intent is to take advantage of some that stability to formalize our commitment to education.

Thinking about all of this made us realize that if (1)you can build a business of diversely talented people who enjoy teaching and learning and (2) you intentionally make learning a formal part of your work, then essentially what you have is a miniature, ad-hoc university (in its most ideal form).

And if that's what you have, why stop internally? Why not share it?

So, today, we’re announcing Tumbleweed Tech, our effort to provide a solid alternative to the less-than-modern approach to web development taken at local colleges and universities.

Don’t get me wrong. I love academics and degrees have their place, but sometimes, you just want to know what you need to know to dive in and get things done. Add to that access to some talented, experienced people, and we think it’s a great approach—one that many students will gain from.

Tumbleweed Tech will begin this Fall.

We have a list of potential classes outlined and we’ll be basing our initial offering based on what people want to learn. So drop your name in if you’re interested! We’d love to have you.

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