The Audacity of a Ninth Grader


As you all likely know by now, the Fox is a huge fan of ignoring the status quo, or in some cases, being completely ignorant of it entirely. 

Nathan Kontny is a founder of two companies, creator of the writing app Draft, and blogger on Svbtle. Shortly after releasing Draft, he was propositioned for an interview…by a ninth grade student.

It was a simple proposition: Can he interview me over Skype or email for his blog. It would just be 5 questions. And he seemed to already have used my product: “Just used Draft. It is the coolest thing in the whole world. No more Google Docs for school projects. :)”

I’m not sure what you were like in ninth grade, but this fox was barely able to hunt critters to remain fed, and it certainly never occured to me that I was allowed to reach out to highly talented or skilled people to interview them and pick their brains. That was a job that reporters and journalists did. But the truth is there was nothing stopping me from doing it too, except the false assumption that I didn’t think I could.

Kontny explains…

When I got my first job after college, I felt stuck. I used to be a Chemical Engineer who had fallen in love with making things on computers. And I was lucky enough to get a chance to work for a technology consulting company, Accenture. But I didn’t get put into a position to make things on computers. I got put into a role where I was constantly taking meeting minutes and documenting requirements and test cases.

It sucked.

So I started sending emails to random people in the company. Not random people exactly. Random important people. I emailed partners. I’d email them new ideas I had that I thought Accenture could make money from. As I look back, they were crazy, half-baked ideas, poorly thought out, and articulated even worse. But I got emails and phones calls back from these partners.

No one ever told me to stop.

Instead, I got a promotion to a team at Accenture that would let me make software. I didn’t have to document requirements anymore. The door was unlocked.

What is the last crazy idea you put out in the world? When was the last time you sent an email to an upper level executive with your ideas to make something better? What would happen if you did?

I was at a crowded concert this last weekend (Frightened Rabbit). Walking out of the concert hall after the show, we were in your typical cattle formation. Tons and tons of people trying to get outside. Being civil. Barely. And everyone is trying to squeeze past these 4 open doors to get outside.

What struck me as odd is the exit of the concert hall actually has something like 10 doors. Why is everyone crowding through these 4? So I avoided the crowded line, walked with my 2 friends to one of the other doors, and pushed. It wasn’t locked. We were out.

Going with the crowd is easy. In many cases it works just fine. But it often causes us to forget that we don’t have to. There are other exits. There are bigger things you could be working on right now. Not because someone asked you to, but simply because you’re the one who starts working on it.

That ninth grader got his interview.

What are you going to do today?

Fox Tip: Stop thinking you can’t do something. Today, be different.

Bonus Tip: This post was written using Draft. And enterprising ninth-graders are using it instead of Google Docs. If you like to write, give it a try.

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