One day, my daughter asked me what I did for a living.
In an attempt to explain me to her, she stopped me in mid-sentence to exclaim, “Pops, I’ve talked to all my friend’s Dads, and none of them are like you. You must be some kind of unicorn!”
I said back, “I’m not a unicorn, I’m just a horse.”
“Nope,” she said back. “All those other dads are just horses. You’re a mustang!”
That was the day I discovered what I truly was in this new age of the digital revolution: a wild horse.
It was a sobering revelation that made my attempts at explaining my talents to others suddenly make sense. Nobody understands what I do, or how I do it because to understand means you have to be a wild horse too. You have to have been roaming wild to know what it’s like to roam from forest to field or be out on the range with nobody around you for miles. But most importantly, you had to discover, after running hundreds of races, that there are few of us in the world.
As a wild horse, I have an aptitude for technical knowledge that spans from programming to radio-frequency identification, the capability to create concepts on the fly, and such an endless supply of what-if ideas that most people find a bit intense. Combine all that creativity with my atomic-dust-bin-of-useless-trivia, a love for geek culture (especially G.I.Joe), and a few “large-sized” white chocolate mochas, and I become downright terrifying to the ordinary folk in my village.
Needless to say, high school was not a blast.
However, this mega-combination of non-standard skills has formed in me what some might call “the missing link” or “the disrupter”. I thought everyone could dream up solutions to complex asymmetrical problems. Turns out, they cannot. When I use to be the only one who could explain to clients what the developer just said to them in a language they could understand, I thought everyone could do that. Nope. Not to mention going back and explaining to the developers what the client meant as well. Surprise, surprise, not many people can do that either.
I can see the big picture, then build a narrative around a project that tells the whole story to all involved. Some call it being a “horse whisperer” on a good day and a “druid” on a chaotic one.
Even my career has resembled wild horse thinking. I have roamed through the worlds of in-house, out-house, military, contractor, civil servant, and freelance fields and forests. Started three companies (a freelance studio, a web development shop, and a podcast design studio) that all provided lessons in what not to do and whom not to do it with.
During all those experiences I have led teams, won business, written tens of thousands of lines of code, themed websites, designed logos, crafted positioning statements, written proposals, developed content, sketched user interfaces, sold clients, and blogged about everything from mountain biking to event management. It may all seem a bit scatterbrained or unfocused, but every engagement, every experience, and every wide-eyed, enthusiastic dive into curiosity has helped me become the mustang I am today.
There is a lot of freedom in being an intellectual wild horse. Having your daughter call you a mustang feels pretty good too!