It was 1996 and I was just starting work at my first job outside college. The company: Microsoft. The product: Windows 2000. The team was Base Test, and my boss was a guy named Terry Lahman, a lean mustachioed Dad-type who really cared about the product and his employees. I was nervous and green and didn’t have a clue what I was doing. Eager to please, I did everything Terry ever asked of me, as best as a new college grad could.

One day he came into my office, and this is what he said:

Eric, every now and then I’m going to come into your office and ask you, “What are you working on that I don’t know about?” You should always have something to tell me.

I remember being surprised, which is probably why it stuck. I thought he’d be upset if he found out I was “wasting” time on outside projects. But here he was, telling me to do just that.