After four years at iThemes, today is the last day here for my friend and our creative director, Brad Ulrich.
He’ll be taking a job to pioneer a digital division at Sonic Corporate, which runs “the nation’s largest chain of drive-in restaurants with more than 3,500 drive-ins serving approximately 3 million customers every day.” (Those cherry limeades will never taste the same now!)
Yesterday, and unsolicited by him, I wrote a glowing letter of recommendation for him. And this morning I walked in to an incredible heartfelt thank you note and a very nice bottle of whiskey on my desk.
Later today, we’re throwing him a going away party because of who he is and what he means to us.
It’s going to be one of the hardest days I’ve had here in 6 years. For many of us. He’s been here through it all. And through the highs and lows of my life and work for the past 8 years I’ve known him, he was (and is) a steadfast partner and friend through it all.
But as sad as we are for ourselves, we’re very happy for Brad. And as such, I wanted to share some reasons for why he’s an amazing example of a true professional and for how to leave a job.
1. He’s leaving happy.
He’s not mad or angry or frustrated. He’s leaving because an opportunity and a challenge opened up for him that was right for him and his family. The day he gave his notice I told him I’d never stand in the way of his dreams or doing what’s right for his family. And after hearing about the job, it’s a challenge he’s fully up to that fits him well.
But I fully expect to see him again. He is a friend first, then a team member and coworker. He’ll be an iThemes emeritus team member forever.
But he’s leaving happy and we’re very, very happy for him and his new adventure.
(For this and the reasons next, he will always be family and always welcome here.)
2. He’s leaving it better than he found it.
I told him his fingerprints are on almost everything we’ve done here and will be there influencing us for a long, long time.
He made everyone around him better. He made me better. And he made the work, the products, the process better.
He made a difference and he leaves a lasting legacy here.
3. He cared and was committed to the work.
We saw it in his work quality and his attitude.
And I don’t mean just regular, normal, vanilla caring and commitment.
He owned it.
He fought and pushed for the best and for the people here and the ones we serve.
You can tell caring and commitment the moment during a debate or discussion that you could easily just surrender and say, “OK,” yet he didn’t shrink, he only pushed harder for what he believed in.
Caring and commitment come out in your work. The fact that this is a tremendously hard day for all of us is a shining example of it.
4. He got better and better every day.
He came here right out of college with talent but mostly immense potential. And for four years, I watched him hone and refine and grow that talent and realize that potential every dang day.
He didn’t take a day off in four years from sharpening his sword.
And that’s why I say to him and have for a long time, he’s the best designer I’ve ever known.
He didn’t coast. He didn’t wade in the shallow end. He didn’t phone it in. He simply got better and better and better until he was the best.
And here’s the real deal … he hasn’t stopped. And he won’t ever.
5. He finished strong.
The past couple of weeks he hasn’t been daydreaming. He hasn’t been coasting. He’s been busting his butt to check off remaining projects, help us organize and get all the details of what he did together AND give us a list of people to talk to about replacing him.
This is yet another example of no. 3.
He simply finished what he started, with the same passion and commitment he employed, every day, for the last four years.
For these reasons (and many more), that’s why he’s an excellent example of how to be an invaluable career professional and for how to leave a job when the next big opportunity knocks on your door.
He’s the type of person you yearn to work with again. And a supreme model for those just getting started.
Good luck, Brad. Go lead and innovate and change the world. Your family back at iThemes, we’ll be cheering you on from afar!