I'm Dave, one of the founders of the Recurse Center.
I was recently asked to tell someone about myself via email. Here’s what I came up with.
In fourth grade we had a mock 20-year reunion. Everyone came dressed as who they thought they would be when they grew up and we each got to present to the class about our future selves. I said I was a computer programmer. I had the book “Computer Programming for Dummies,” but I had crossed out “Dummies” and written “Experts.” I said I went to the Michigan Institute of Technology. I knew it was MIT, I just guessed the wrong state.
In hindsight, I wasn’t that far off. I didn’t go to MIT (I didn’t even apply). I wanted to be at a school where I would interact with liberal arts students too, so I went to Columbia. My proudest academic moment was the year I spent TAing an intro electrical engineering class. I would love to be a teacher later in life.
I’ve been programming since fourth grade, but the real thing that I’ve learned is how little I actually know about it. I only really understood this after I graduated from college and got a job. I like to think about the four stages of knowing:
You don’t know what you don’t know.
You know what you don’t know.
You know what you know.
You don’t know what you know.
I am currently at stage two and I’m learning things as fast as I can.
In high school I saw the film Startup.com with my mom. I think that first seeded the idea to start a company in my head, but looking back, I don’t think GovWorks was a particularly good idea. I also enjoyed Pirates of Silicon Valley and have read Insanely Great by Steven Levy at least two times.
At 16 I started riding on ambulances and at 18 I became an Emergency Medical Technician. All told, I’ve spent seven years working on ambulances, four of which were in New York City. I’ve never had anyone die on me, but that’s more luck than skill. Emergency medicine is a rough business.
I’ve been playing guitar since fourth grade and trumpet and a few other brass instruments since high school. I’ve played in a few bands and still harbor dreams of being a rock star. There are lots of similarities between starting a band and starting a company.
I also love the outdoors. My friend Steve and I are going to stand on the highest point in every state. We’re currently 3/50. It’s more of a long-term goal.
I am a life-long New Yorker. I have dressed up as a washing machine for Halloween on multiple occasions.