12 years ago, I walked into a hockey arena to work, and my life changed.
The Pittsburgh Penguins had given us a chance to try out a new research idea at their arena, and YinzCam was born. I believe that we are as scrappy as we were when we started, as hungry, as enthusiastic, and as passionate about what we do. We didn’t believe in impossible then. We don’t believe in it now.
Three words define the spirit of YinzCam — who we are, what we value.
People, problems, personal.
YinzCam. The early days of working Penguins games, 2008.
- People. The thing that sets my soul on fire are our people. Our people are those who work at YinzCam, who believe in YinzCam enough to choose to work there. I am grateful for their belief in our mission. Our people give it their all every day, care deeply about our reputation, and are proud of our successes. Our people includes the clients who believe in us, who stick with us through mistakes we make, and who push us to dream big. Many of them have been with us for over a decade. Their unwavering loyalty and steadfast championing of us moves me to this day. Our clients are not simply our clients. They are my friends. They are my mentors. I’ve gone to them for advice on what to build, how to sell, what decisions to make. Our clients have mentored me, taught me, counseled me, listened when I needed it, provided me with the feedback I needed to hear, and have been there during our darkest times. Our clients built YinzCam. This is their company. The credit is theirs. Without them, we just wouldn’t exist. Our people includes the users of our products — sports fans — who are vocal about what they like and what they don’t, but who are the reason we keep pushing to add new features. Keeping them happy is a shared goal, and one that is always at the forefront of our designs and decisions.
- Problems. The thing that sets my brain on fire are problems. Problems frustrate, problems annoy, problems infuriate, problems get under your skin, problems make you lose sleep over them, problems make you think, problems make you dig deep. We love problems. The hairier, the better. Our company was founded on solving a problem. We started YinzCam because of the problem of my being too short to see the goal, the fight, the save at a Pittsburgh Penguins hockey game. Problems are really splendid opportunities in disguise. An opportunity to make a difference, an opportunity to exercise our brains, to act, to help, to advance the field, to do something different, to evolve our thinking, to learn, to apply what we’ve learned, to invent, and to re-invent ourselves. Problems keep us from being bored. If we did the same thing over and over again, we would be bored. We are not because …. problems.
- Personal. The thing that sets my heart on fire are that it’s all personal to me. I am a professor at Carnegie Mellon Univeristy, and our motto is “My heart is in the work.” That motto is important in everything we do. It’s more important for us to care about people, and to do the right thing by our clients and users than to worry about revenue or the bottom line. It’s always been that way. It’s not business, it’s personal. It’s not clinical or objective to us. That’s not who we are. It’s intensely personal to me. I wear my heart on my sleeve when it comes to our people and what we do. Our people are personal to me. Their careers are personal to me. Their families are personal to me. Our clients are personal to me. Our clients’ careers are personal to me. Our products are personal to me. Our bugs are personl to me. Our failures are personal to me. Our successes are personal to me. It’s all personal to me — our milestones, our joys, our celebrations, our break-throughs, our screw-ups. If it isn’t personal, what’s the point?
These three words — people, problems, personal — are core to our spirit, our attitude, our actions, our words, and our approach to the world.
We will always put people first.
We will always look for problems to solve.
We will always treat everything and everyone as personal.
Even 12 years in.