This is a short story of my first “client” in the very early days when I started designing websites. I say “client” because I didn’t really receive money from that person (and I didn’t even ask for it).
However, I received something much more valuable. It’s an inspirational story I can share with you right now that has probably influenced my entire life.
Interested? Let’s see how it all started…
I was very interested in software programming (especially C++) as a teenager. That was the time when the Internet wasn’t so easily accessible (at least it wasn’t in Poland where I lived back then). So, I had to buy some books in order to broaden my computer knowledge.
One of them was a 3-part book called “Symphony in C++“. I found this book recommended by many computer science students on the programming forums.
The book was written in such clear and easy to understand language that even a 14 year old boy could learn from it. I helped me a lot to develop my programming skills and write my first simple computer programs.
I offered service for knowledge
Pretty soon after that I needed additional sources to learn even more. I found another 2-part book by the same author called “Passion in C++” which was about more advanced techniques and object-oriented programming using C++.
These kinds of books were quite expensive in Poland, so I needed to figure out a different way to get them.
In the meantime, I started exploring some web design basics and learned HTML. At first, I built some very simple websites and did a little graphics work in Photoshop.
So, the idea was simple: I could contact the author and offer to design a website in exchange for the new books.
I didn’t think about asking for money. All I needed were these books, and besides, I felt like I was asking for too much as it was.
Then, I wrote an email to the author of the books…
Who was the author?
Here you might be surprised but it was quite difficult to find anything about the author. In fact, it still is. His name is Jerzy Grębosz (George in English – before you try to pronounce his Polish name).
Jerzy appeared to be a nuclear physicist who happened to know a lot about C/C++ — enough to write a few incredibly successful books. He is also an author of a number of publications in physics.
He’s an amazingly humble man. You won’t find any “About the Author” sections in his books. He holds a Ph.D. in nuclear physics but he never titles himself like this. All you can see in the book or website is just his name.
Also, he travels around the world looking for places that are not touched by western civilization. As a result, you can find many beautiful photo galleries from different places where he lived.
After my first email, he responded and asked me to call him “Jurek” which is a less formal form of his first name. He, of course, accepted my offer and in a short time we were ready to launch his new website.
That was my first experience in doing a job for someone other than myself. It was a great feeling to work with someone like him. I’m sure such a great experience with my first client had a big impact on my entire career.
Additionally, my first client was a man who inspired me not only by what he had achieved but also by what kind of person he is.
I didn’t have to wait too long to get my books after I finished my work on Jurek’s website. I received the 2-part “Passion in C++” book with a special dedication on the first page:
To my new friend Rafal Tomal — author of my wonderful website.
Best regards, Jurek Grębosz
I had to admit that working with Jurek was already like a big reward for me. However, I was also very happy I finally had the books!
This website design may not look like any of my current designs, so don’t be surprised. I was 15 years old at that time and it was one of my first websites.
You can still find the live website under this address (it has an English version): http://www.ifj.edu.pl/~grebosz