It’s not how high you jump, but how well you bounce…

Last week, SWUGN leader Richard Doyle posted a blog entry about Rodney Hall. We first learned about Rod and his employment troubles on Twitter, and I had a chance to speak with him before SolidWorks World 2009, and even mentioned him on stage. Well, there’s some great news—as Richard mentioned, Rod recently found a new job, and when he emailed me to spread the good news, I gave him a call to congratulate him.


While talking to Rod on the phone, he told me “It’s not how high you jump, but how well you bounce that matters.” Rod personifies those values. Rod’s employer was bought out by a competitor, and in the interest of “synergies,” tossed most of the employees out the door, including Rod. Like so many others across the country–and around the world–he fell victim to the brutality of this economy.

Rod was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth; he grew up poor and did all the wrong things in school. He was bored, and saw little opportunity for the future. Then, in a high-school drafting class, a light went on. He fell in love with engineering design. He quickly progressed to wireframes and then discovered early 3D CAD during a class field trip to the local IBM plant. It was there that he saw his destiny.

But life wasn’t finished putting up barriers in front of him. He couldn’t afford college, so he got a job as a machinist after graduating from high school. His life story could have been completed then and there, but he saw the future in 3D, and taught himself 3D CAD. As a result of his machining experience, he could design products that could actually be manufactured, an edge he had over his college-educated peers.

Rod applies his practical design skills in his daily life, and recently designed and built a whole-house vacuum that saved him $1500. Rod gives back to the community, too. He teaches at the local community college, because, “…being a classroom leader forces you to know more than the people you teach.”

So, back to our story. When Rod’s employer closed the doors, Rod picked himself up and started to hustle, finding an exciting new job in less than a month. While his job has taken him over four hours away from his home, he’s already looking at a teaching position in the local community college system, and is planning to start a new SolidWorks user group at his new destination.

You know, a word that gets thrown around too often these days is “passion.” That’s a shame. If everyone got to spend five minutes with Rod (and so many of you just like him), we would treat “passion” with the respect it deserves. Of course times are tough, and innocent people are suffering. But there will always be a need for people like Rod on this planet. And that gets me up out of bed every day, because I get to work with them.