This week, American businessman, philanthropist, and investor, Paul Allen, passed away. Allen is best known for the role he had in helping to create Microsoft, but he was also the owner of two football teams, and the founder of the Allen Institute for Brain Science, among others. In remembering him, I want to look more closely at the founding years of Microsoft.
Allen went to the same school as Bill Gates, but was two years ahead of him. The two of them would experiment coding in various settings, including their own Lakeside School, and the Computer Science Department of the University of Washington. He scored a perfect 1600 on the SAT and went to Washington State University – but dropped out after two years to work as a programmer for Honeywell. It was there that he reconnected with Gates and convinced Gates to drop out of Harvard and create Microsoft. Allen and Gates started working on a programming language that eventually led to the creation of Microsoft – taken from “micro-computer” and “software” mashed together. And while Gates was the bigger businessman – creating deals and making big promises, it was often Allen who did the quiet work of creating the software and delivering on promises.
It’s that quiet work that often goes unnoticed and unappreciated, both in life and with Impact Network. It’s the teacher waking up to do her lesson planning for the day, the Operations Manager troubleshooting the solar system, the Teacher Supervisors painstakingly observing and coaching their teachers. It’s our data coordinator who reviews the CommCare reports for the week and analyzes it for management staff. It’s our leadership meeting, brainstorming, and finding solutions to any number of problems that have arisen over the week.
This week, I have been thinking a lot about the quiet work. While at our Chefs event, I will take the stage – but it’s the quiet work of Katie, Sofia, Eliana and Margaret that have gotten us to this incredible point. To them, and to Paul Allen, I say thank you. :)